Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”. History has taught us that Ford was ahead of his time, both in terms entrepreneurship and customer discovery. It was Henry Ford that understood the importance of considering exactly what his customers wanted in terms of their problems, not just within the boundaries of current market demand. For this reason, we at Innovation Portal believe it is vital to complete a healthy amount of customer discovery before you set out to develop a solution and throughout the development process. Here are the basic steps to customer discovery.
1 | Create Your Hypothesis
Before strapping on your boots and talking to potential consumers, you need to figure out exactly what you are trying to solve. The outlined hypothesis is called a value proposition. “A value proposition is a statement that answers the ‘why’ someone should do business with you. It should convince a potential customer why your service or product will be of more value to them than similar offerings from your competitor”.
2 | Test Your Hypothesis
Once your hypothesis is created, you can now test it. You’ll want to do so in a timely manner, because your intended customer or market may change. This is the step where you get out into the market and talk to people. Understand what their problem is through specific questions. This shouldn’t be an infomercial on your product. Rather, this step is to gain the most insight on whether or not your hypothesis is true or if it needs to be changed.
3 | Test Your Product Concept
Now it’s time to talk to potential customers about your product. Yet again, it’s time to gain as much knowledge on how your product matches the market you are trying to gain. If you discover your product isn’t a good fit, you may have to adjust your product or hypothesis.
4 | Evaluate
Now that you have all the information you need. Has your hypothesis been proven or do you have to change it? Does your product solve the problem of your intended consumer? If it was found that the original hypothesis was incorrect, don’t freak out! Start back at step one and get to the product and hypothesis that serves your intended market. Once you do, you will be able to grow faster with a product you know people want. Imagine if Henry Ford invested in a way to make horses faster rather than making an affordable car. You would have trotted to work in stir-ups and chaps!
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