HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT PRODUCTS FOR YOUR CUSTOMERS.
Who are your customers? What are their problems? What are their wants and desire? Go on and answer right now, you only got three seconds 3. 2. 1. go!
Um… I can not hear you, Hello, are you still with me?
You look so embarrassed! Please don’t tell me you don’t know the answer.
Throughout my work experience, I have met so many people share the same situation as yours, fear not, you are not the only one, so let’s take it easy and fix the situation one step at a time.
In this reading, I will take you through the process of finding your group of customers and then tell you how to find products that fit their needs, cool? Let’s go.
First, let’s start with the basics, shall we? A customer, as you may know, is a human being; a human is a set of physical, psychological, cultural, and environmental characteristics, combined together to form a person.
When this person lives in a community and he or she shares the same characteristics with the surrounding people, a group of people with specific patterns, behaviors, and needs is formed, your job is to search for your group of people and find what they want.
What is the belief system, and what problem does this group share in common?
Let’s first break this complicated picture into separate pieces then bring it back into a whole.
Location: different people around the globe live in different environments, the method of how they sell and buy is limited by the limitation of their environment, it’s tough to sell online for someone who lives in a third-world country where no online banking service is established.
Age: people at a different stage of their lives will behave differently, the things that people want to acquire while they were young are different than when they are in their sixties, their style changes, their maturity and attitude change, and their goals change, selling to a teenager with the same approach of talking to an adult won’t take you too far.
Gender: ladies and gentlemen have different preferences when it comes to buying, while most men like to do things quickly and easily. Ladies would want to invest more into the details of things/ When you speak to a lady, your message needs to be a more clear and in-depth while when you are speaking to a man your message should speak to his ego, simple, quick, and directly get to the point.
Ethnic groups: without any doubt that the human diversity and cultural influence are different from one ethnic group to another, while Asians might value family, minimalism, and hard work, westerns might appreciate beauty, freedom, and self-expression, each ethnic group and minorities express its need in a different language than the other.
Marital status: marriage changes how we behave and take a decision in our daily life, when we were single, we tend to be risky and selfish, however when we get a partner our decisions and considerations might take a more stable, steady long-term approach, we think about the whole and we try to make compromises for the other person rather than only looking after our own interest.
The number of children: the number of children of a family will affect the overall consideration of how the parents take a decision in the long-run, especially if money is tight, how much should they spend, how much should they save, where to spend the money, how to spend it, the pressure of making a decision becomes much higher, and all buying decisions must meet a specific budget.
Occupation: the position of occupation plays an essential role in the income and social status of the individual, people who work will always try to look for other people, solutions, relations, and methods that improve their productivity and position, this will reflect in an increase of their income and the overall quality of their lives.
Annual income: the amount of the yearly income of an individual will define where he/she sits in the social hierarchy, people with high income are normally not interested in cheap services or products no matter how good they are, it’s just not under their radar, and it will devalue their social image, on the other hand, people with a mid-to low-income level are always on the seek for special deals and offers.
Education level: the degree of education level will define the level of the sophistication and research of the individual, highly educated people would be detail-oriented and descriptive, they tend to know what is it that they want, on the other hand, people with low to mid-level education tend to go with gut feeling, whatever that feels right as long as it meets the requirement and their budget.
Keep in mind that these aspects might differ from one culture to another, my job is to open your eyes for possibilities, your job is to use these guidelines and compare them to your surroundings.
Remember, this is not about what we both think; we are both influenced by our culture and past experiences, therefore for your project, always research and check for the truth.
Find Your Audience Demographics
Finding the demographics of your customers works the best if you provide products or services that serve a specific group of people with particular demographics needs.
“25~36 years old single woman with an annual income of $35,000 looking for an affordable health insurance agent.”
“30~45 years old Chinese couple with a graduate college degree looking for an accounting job.”
“55~65 years old unemployed sales manager with an MBA college degree and $250K in debt looking for a low-budget startup project.”
When you become clear on your audience demographics, it becomes much easier to find products that fit their demographic needs.
It also becomes much so much easier to find your customers on online platforms and advertise to them.
Facebook Audience Demographics
Different groups of people do different types of activities throughout their lives, when people follow specific influencers, read particular magazines, watch specific tv shows, and listen to a specific genre of music, they will form a unique perspective about the world, it’s their reality, and they will adapt to it if it fits their self-interest.
Each one of us has a different understanding of the world, there is no one truth of how the world behaves, our interest and environment will shape our perception, your job is to tap into the “truth of your audience“, learn their language, and understand their world.
Some interest categories are:
Magazines and newspaper
Influencers and celebrities
Web portals, blogs, and different forums topics
Movies and Tv shows
“Sam is interested in basketball, watch NBA, follow Kobe Bryant, and read slam magazine searching for hot and trendy basketball sneakers.”
“Alice is interested in Playing Piano, follows Louis Lortie, like modern art, and looking for a next-level piano course.”
Why this is important?
When you understand your customers’ interest and circle of influence, you can design your marketing message to speak in their language and self-interest, instead of only being focused on your voice, add to that this process will make your job so much easier when it comes to targeting your customers on the internet.
Facebook Audience Interests
Here is a quick video which makes it simpler to digest, enjoy!
How to find your customers
Different people behave differently, and it’s all come to the mindset of the customer, it’s how they think will shape how they behave, your job is to understand what goes inside the thinking patterns of yours customer, where is it all coming from, this will take time, but with more research, trial and error, you will get it right!
Some of those behaviors are:
Optimistic | Pessimistic
Introvert | Extrovert
Spenders | Savers
Emotional | Logical
Trusting | Skeptical
Presenting your products to customers who are into engineering and science “Skeptical and looking for logic” is quite the opposite of presenting the same product to a group of artists and musicians “Emotional and looking for values and meanings.“
Desires are what makes living things alive, without desires we have nothing to fulfill and strive for; we might differ in the way of how we communicate and express them, some might shy away, and some might be more aggressive, but deep down, the root of survival comes out of those desires. Your job is uncovering them.
Some human desires are:
Acceptance, the need for approval.
Curiosity, the need to learn.
Eating, the need for food.
Family, the need to belong, and children.
Independence, the need for individuality.
Health, the need for a healthy mind and body.
Power, the need for influence and prestige.
Romance, the need for love and sex.
Social contact, the need for friendship.
Tranquility, the need to be safe.
Happiness, the need to be fulfilled.
Different People will strive to achieve different desires at whatever cost it takes. “don’t sell products and services, promote desires, dreams, hopes, and opportunities.”
Parents work hard to spend a significant portion of their income on Disney land and bring the family together “Happiness.“
An Employed lady works hard to spend her last 3 months’ salary on a luxury bag “Achievement and Social Power.”
People pay extra money to buy premium insurance that might never use “Security.“
Understanding those basic desires and injecting them into your product and marketing is critical.
Fears are the opposite of desires, and people will do whatever it takes to push away from fears and achieve their desire.
Some human fears are:
Fear of loneliness
Fear of death
Fear of being a coward
Fear of getting old
Fear of losing
Injecting some kind of “ethical” fear is critical if you want your audience to take action.
“Old and wealthy people fear not being loved.”
“Young and fit men fear sudden death.”
“Ex-army soldier fear to be a coward.”
“Beautiful model fear of getting old.”
“Father/Mother fear of losing a child.”
You can see by now that those concepts and little secrets play an important role in how you create, market, and communicate your products to your audience.
As you might notice by now that without understanding your customers, wants need and desires, throwing a 50% discount or a massive sales campaign, won’t do that much in the long run, the message does not resonate with your customer, people want more than just a discount if they want that they can get it on Amazon.
6. Wants and Dislikes
Understand that most people will be able to afford your product at a full price IF it makes them look and feel (Want):
“People bought an iPod because it made them look cool, and not because it’s an Mp3 player.”
“People spend a $100K/year on Harvard Business MBA program not because it’s the best business school “hardly speaking”, but because it made them look and feel “trustworthy, accountable, and powerful.”
And people will pay whatever it takes to avoid things that make them be perceived and feel (Don’t want):
“I spent $200 to buy a watch, it looked cool, but after a month it stopped working, and then I found out it was made in china for $2, I was misled and I would never buy a Chinese watch in my entire life, damn I was so stupid!” Regret, guilt, failure, stupid, cheap, all at once!
It’s not about Chinese watches are bad, China does have a lot of great watches as well, I lived there for 14 years; I know what’s I’m talking about.
It’s the fear of that experience which would make it close to impossible to sell that guy “or to his family and friends” another Chinese watch again.
Understand that we live in a society where people are betrayed by other “bad marketers and businesses” over and over, so right now, customers hate to waste, time, money, and energy.
People are sick of being grouped into numbers and statistics treated similarly no matter what their situation is; that was a long time ago when as a society, we did not have the money, and we were forced to live like that, but not now.
Right now, more and more people have better living conditions and are willing to spend more for a premium experience. The more personalized and customized you get, the better you can serve.
When I do market research, I focus on digging deep into people’s pains, wants, and desires; unless I’m selling a specific product that requires me to look into demographics, I would just ignore it.
The secret of understanding your customers’ fears and desires is to tap into online forums and groups and listen to people gasping, complaining, and telling stories:
Keywords to research:
I’m frustrated with + Your Topic
I’m Sick of + Your Topic
I’m Afraid of + Your Topic
I’m Tired with + Your Topic
I Hate to + Your Topic
How to + Your Topic
Look for communities, blogs, and forums around your niche with articles that have high readership and comments.
People online tend to hide behind virtual identities and are willing to share and express their pains, desires, and frustration more honestly compared to a face to face or a group conversation.
Here are a few examples to start with:
Start with your customers: If you already have a customers base, then you should start from here, asking your current customers and fans some of the following questions:
What are the main obstacles and challenges your customers face at the moment?
How do these challenges affect their daily performance and the overall quality of their lives?
Do they have any recommendations and suggestions for your products to be implemented in the future?
Can they share with you different examples of different solutions from different brands that work for them?
Show your customers that you are concerned about their challenges instead of only focusing on promotions, this will drive a conversation around your brand, and highly likely to generate a word of mouth since they are invested in the ideation phase of your product development.
This could be achieved through phone calls, emails, your social media feed, or send an online survey attached with 20% off or a gift card on the next purchase, as a show of appreciation and a small incentive.
Yahoo answers and Quora: are a great place, to begin with, if you got no customer base, they’re packed with great questions, frustrations, and stories with great solutions and feedbacks, I would dig deep and start looking for common patterns around a specific problem of your niche.
Reddit: is a great community as well, searching for subdirectories and looking for a group of people who shares the same interests, listening to their conversations and different point of views.
Yelp Customers Reviews
Elegant Business Lifestyle | Images Pinterest.com
Bohemian Free Lifestyle | images Pinterest.com
People into a business and a strict way of living differ from people into a free spirit lifestyle. Those two groups of people dress and behave differently, they speak in different terms and languages. Therefore, before you try to communicate your marketing message, understand the lifestyle that surrounds your target audience, in other words, get to know them.
Find the right product for your customers
Okay, so now that you understand the basics of customer research, it’s time to dig and understand why people buy in the first place.
Everything that we have talked about is essential to understand how people think, behave, and act, but the way of how people buy things is not necessarily related to demographics or a specific desire, but usually hire a product or a service to do a particular job and solve a problem within a specific budget.
Keep in mind that your solutions could be packaged into a physical product, digital services, educational content, whatever that benefits the most to your customer.
How to find a product for your customers
1. Understand what problem or conflict do they have
There are 4 types of human conflicts that you can develop solutions around.
1.Human Vs. Self
Humans throughout their lives have to deal with solving and improving many aspects of their lives, finding solutions to a pain point is critical if you want to sell, your offer should take someone from personal pain and struggling and transition them into success and prosperity without breaking their budget, if you can do that, then you have got yourself a winning product.
Some products that fall into these categories are personal development, food, self-management, motivation, and transformation, self-defense, weight loss, professional skills, and beauty products.
2. Human Vs. Human
People daily deal with others to do business or be in a relationship, and throughout this process, there would be some conflicts between each as a result of looking after one’s self-interest.
Some products that fall into this category are marriage, sex life, parenting, consulting and coaching, communication skills, business negotiations, and every product and services that require solving a conflict between two entities.
3. Human Vs. Society
We, as humans, do live inside a community of different people with different beliefs, habits, and social status, Most people of our modern age will strive to advance in society to become wealthier, have more free time, and look more prestigious.
Luxury goods and services at an affordable “not low” price, social services and communities both are a great point to start.
4. Human Vs. Tools and Technology
In everyday life, we use different tools and technologies to accomplish tasks; developing those tools and technologies to make things faster, easier, safer, more elegant, convenient, and affordable is always a good strategy to replace the one product with new ones.
Once you understand your customer’s wants, needs, desires, and the problem that they are facing, it’s time to consider what things they care about the most and comes secondarily.
Let’s assume that you want to develop a workout program, and you are not clear on what type of product you should come up with.
You can divide our target audience into six groups:
People who dislike the gym and can afford home personal training. | e.g. Find your trainer
People who like the gym and can afford personal training. | e.g. Royal personal training
People who like the gym and can afford group training. | e.g. The wall
People who are highly motivated and can only afford an online training program. | e.g. Train with kickoff
People who are highly motivated and can only afford a mobile app. | e.g. Jefit
People who can not manage to stick with a workout training and would prefer to lose weight with a diet program. | e.g. Hello Fresh
Each person of these groups is looking for something specific, therefore if you are coming out with a new product, doing the research for your target audience is essential to harnessing your marketing message and your product offering, make sure that there is a problem to be solved and there is someone in need of your solution.
2. Understand your offer positioning
When you develop your product, you most position in a way that your target audience will perceive it correctly, be it price or lifestyle, don’t send the wrong signal to the wrong customer.
1. Lowest-price customers
This group of customers is more interested in the lowest-price, wide product variations, and cheapest deals possible, and it’s for a simple reason, they live on a minimal budget.
Most of the small businesses subconsciously send their marketing message to attract this group of people because they mostly came out of this group of customers, which makes them come from a place of empathy.
You are not your customer, keep that voice and message repeating in your mind whenever you try to devalue your brand, your job is not to worry about people’s budget, that’s the job of non-profit organizations or mega-large brands.
Your job as a small business owner is to drive your business to high profit while delivering value and to make your business to flourish, however, if you are nice enough and care to help you can always find charitable ways to help but that should not be the primary purpose of your profit-oriented business.
2. Value customers
This group of customers is made of highly sophisticated hunters, and they look for the value of the product, be it function or style, mostly not concerned about the emotional aspect of your brand, they do tons of research, and they know exactly what they want.
They look for the best value to price, you actually can not cheat them with your positioning, hard to sell unless you genuinely know what they have in mind, if they find the value in your product, they will save the money to buy it.
Best Watch Buying Guide For Men | Real Men Real Style
3. Emotional Customer
This group of customers is the easiest to sell if you know how to talk them into your brand, they mostly buy according to emotions and feelings, primarily not interested in researching for all the small details of a specific car, purse, or product, just gimme that damn car or purse.
Prestigious brands or brands who try to look and feel expensive, spend most of their budget to position themselves and create the illusion to serve this kind of customer because they understand that to this group of people It’s not only about being a wealthy person, but a person of values, sophistication, and social status.
Keep in mind that most of these types of customers go into credit card debt or consume their income to afford such a high-lifestyle. Those people care about ego, high self-esteem, and significant life experiences; I would serve them all day long, less needy and demanding, and much higher margins.
Be very careful of the level of attention to detail, the level of customer service, and make sure to always communicate the values and purpose of your brand, you can not behave poorly and expect high margins in returns.
4. Sophisticated on a budget customer
This group of customers is a segment that every small business should fall in love with, a group of “modernized” and “globalized” of people.
They value human rights and values, healthy lifestyle and eco-system, fair pay and labor, racial, ethnic equality, and gender inclusion.
They come from different small minorities and groups such as the gay community “pride”, women’s right community, animals right community, creative group communities such as artists and musicians, and well school-educated families.
They appreciate the quality of the product, its purpose, and origin story over its low-price or its brand name.
What’s beautiful about this group of customers is that they care little about big brands, mostly not brand loyal at all, which makes it easier for you as a small business to compete on quality and story rather than being stuck on competing on price.
Think of them as a combination of value-oriented and emotional customers, but buy within a specific and affordable budget, nowadays brands segment them as low to mid-end premium customers.
For a small business that operates on a small scale, this is heaven. Instead of trying to spread yourself way-to-thin and compete on price, you can leverage your resources to serve a frustration, an unmet need, or gap in the market for a specific group of this segment, then charge a more premium price.
Brands such as Levi’s have already realized the power of the “pride” community and slowly evolving their products and marketing messages to specifically serve and target this group of audience.
Remember that to sell to this group of customers you need to focus on lifestyle, quality, human values, authenticity, and be able to justify your price.
3. Understand who makes the purchasing decision
Creating an offer for a family is different from creating an offer to couples, and it’s quite different for singles. Always ask yourself: Who makes the buying decision? Who inspects the details, what do they need to know? How can I make my product look appealing and convincing to them?
Pet owners rarely eat the food of their pets, yet they are the one who makes the decision to purchase, make sure what do they look for, highlight it, then promote it all the way in.
Things to consider
1. Before you develop your product, make sure you find urgent frustration, pain, or unmet want and need in the market, (avoid a nice to have but unnecessary or generic solutions.) A nicely designed T-shirt is nice to have a product, however, a T-shirt that hides armpit sweat or unpleasant areas of the body is a more urgent solution.
2. Always ask yourself, am I healing a physical or a mental frustration and pain? Am I developing a functional tool to get a specific job done? Am I providing a pleasurable experience? Or Am I selling prestigious products and services?
3. When you want to develop a solution, make sure it’s designed to serve a specific group of people with specific wants, needs, and purchasing power. You don’t want to design for everyone and end up serving no one.
4. Avoid complicated to sell concepts that require a massive amount of cash and marketing to educate the customer, such ideas are perilous for small businesses on a small budget.
5. Always take into consideration the objections and concerns of the shopping customers, the person who decides, and pays for the product rather than thinking about a broad and generic consumer.
6. Before you invest in developing a product think of how you would market, sell, and distribute the product, this will force your thinking to look at the product from the customer’s point of view rather than falling in love with your solution.
How to find products for your customers
Now that you have developed a basic understanding of your customers’ wants, needs, and desires, you can do brainstorming and come up with some basic ideas for your next products and solution.
In the following section, I’m going to go through two simple methods of taking your ideas and developing them into products that you can sell.
If you have done your customers research correctly, meaning that you have gone through blogs, forums, and customers’ reviews around specific problems and frustrations in your industry or an industry that you like to serve then you should be able to find some patterns and make a list of problems that you can solve.
Always keep in mind the following:
Which three ideas on your list are the most important ideas in terms of market demand and urgency?
If you want to narrow down your list to a single idea, which idea has the most probability of success? How do you know that? Can you back your decision with data and research? Or is it a pure gut feeling?
Who is going to benefit from your idea? How will they benefit from it? Can you come up with a simple statement (My product will benefit person A and improve his or her current situation X to a better situation Y)
What skills, experience, and resources do you have to bring your idea into a reality? Do you need to look for and partner up with different people that provide financial resources and specific execution skills?)
Once your customers’ research and your list of ideas are clear, you can move to the implementation phase, to develop your product you can rely on two simple approaches:
1. Improve an existing product
1. Improve by serving better: take an existing product in the market and make it faster, cheaper, more efficient, make it of better quality materials, introduce additional features and benefits.
Put it in other words, improve its physical characteristic and perceived quality.
To improve your product, you need to work with in-house team product developers such as programmers or industrial product designers, hire freelancers and outside agencies or perhaps work with a consultant to discover new designs and methods.
At the end of the process, you should be able to come up with a prototype or a framework of your better alternative solution.
Your next step is to move toward the implementation phase where you take your prototype and find a manufacturer that can produce your product by meeting specific costs and quality guidelines.
Keep in mind that at the beginning of your business, you don’t want to get stuck with a large inventory, this will freeze your cash reserve, and make it difficult for you to improve on your product as fast as possible.
A piece of wise and friendly advice would be is not to get too excited, fall in love with your idea way too early, and order a large inventory, this a fatal mistake that I see a lot with starting entrepreneurs, and most of the time it will end with sucking their cash flow and killing the business.
Always slow down and take it one step at a time. Even if you had to pay a little extra more for less quantity, you can always order more later. First, you need to market test your product and make sure you meet your customers’ needs before you go all the way in.
2. Improve by differentiation: in this approach, you come up with a new approach to serve a customer with a unique and unexpected offer, for this approach to work, you need to be opened to different ideas from different cultures, industries, genres, and trends around the world.
In this approach your product doesn’t have to be the fastest, cheapest, or most delicious, however, you aim for it to be the weirdest, most unique, most unexpected, and pleasurable experience.
You need to be looking for generating curiosity and marketability rather than efficiency and cheaper prices, this strategy will position your business as a landmark and a “must-visit rather that it’s nice to visit”, for a simple reason, it’s weirdly different.
Keep in mind that we are not inventing a new product, we are only taking a product that has a consistent demand and then reshaping it.
You can always borrow and introduce ideas from different cultures around the world that look and feel fresh to your market.
To better understand this approach, head to YouTube and search for the following phrases:
– Most Instagrammable | e.g. Most Instagrammable Icecream. – Most unique | e.g. Most unique sandwich. – Product in a specific place | e.g. Coffee in Tokyo. – Product Theme | e.g. Cute Cake.
You will find tons of videos and resources of creative and unique ideas around the world, see how they exaggerate the scale, shapes, colors, and patterns of the product to make it more desirable and marketable.
If you want to learn more about developing your small business niche, visit this article: How to find a profitable niche.
2. Discover new products
If you don’t want to go through all the hustling of developing a new product and want to look for a faster and secure approach, then you can leverage data and analytics of marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay to get market insight using different tools such as Jungle Scout, IO Scout, and Helium10
Such tools are pretty handy if you are looking to extract data about the best-selling products and products in demand on Amazon, if you are into such an approach then I recommend visiting the Jungle Scout YouTube channel, they got tons of in-depth free tutorials and resources.
What matters is that you need to find products people are consistently searching for and buying. A product with a total of 3000 sales a month on Amazon is a good starting point.
Keep in mind that we want to avoid commodity, and low-margin products, such products are difficult to differentiate and sell at a premium price.
If you already have an existing product, then look for complimentary products that could be bundled and offered to your customers as an up-sell or cross-sell.
Once you find and generate ideas you can find local suppliers or outsource your manufacturing to China, India, Vietnam, Turkey, Pakistan, or other countries, you can find tons of resources and tutorials on this topic on YouTube.
Just search for “how to source products” and you will find tons of tutorials, however as a side note, do not buy any expensive courses around such topics, the process of outsourcing is straightforward and you should be able to figure it out through online research for free.
Okay, so let’s go back to the big picture, to find and develop a product for your customers, first, you need to understand their wants, needs, frustrations, desires, limitations, and purchasing power, then you need to find an unmet want, a gap or an opportunity that you can develop or to partner up with professionals to come up with a solution.
Your solution needs to solve an urgent problem or improve a product that has a consistent demand, this means you avoid taking massive risks with coming up with completely new concepts or hard to sell ideas.
Once you develop your prototype or framework you move into the implementation process steadily and slowly, one step at a time, if it’s a physical product you make sure to avoid large inventory.
If it’s a service improvement that requires staff performance improvement and coaching, make sure to work with professionals to assist you with the process and make the transition as fluid as possible.
Remember that each market and environment are different, use everything that we talked about as a starting point, never neglect or dismiss your market research unless you want to risk it all. However, I don’t think you want to do that, or do you?