To paraphrase President Kennedy: Ich bin ein Marketer. It’s not that I don’t care greatly about the product and features and it’s not that I’m not heavily investing my time in developing product. It’s that, in the past few months, I have come to understand my customers better than I ever have before. For the first time I understand WHY they use our powerOne and FastFigures products, not just WHAT they use them for. And this, my friends, makes me a marketer.
Figuring this out is really hard. I know. I spent years struggling with it.
If you follow Infinity Softworks then you know we have distributed some 15 million units, through bundling and sales, in our 12 year history. We gave away a low functioning product to sell a high functioning product. powerOne Finance, RRE and CRE, our three for-sale products focused on financial and real estate markets, were used to run calculation in the field. This is WHAT it did. But it took me a decade to figure out WHY these finance, real estate, investing and business customers used the products. The WHY is because it gave them credibility with their clients and co-workers. They are paid to have answers, to lend their expertise to a situation, and powerOne gave that to them, very quickly, everywhere and at their fingertips.
If I would have understood this, I could have developed the capabilities around the product to do even a better job of solving this product. Understanding WHY would drive every decision we would have made. And seeing opportunities in that light would have been a litmus test to decide whether we should pursue them or not. We could have also utilized this to develop other products that solved the same core problem.
I obviously didn’t understand this as our next move was to develop powerOne Graph. powerOne Graph was primarily focused on the scientific community, whose main constituents are in education. powerOne Graph answers the WHAT question perfectly: run calculations in the field. But the WHY for education is completely different then the WHY for business and finance. Education WHY was to develop a deeper knowledge and understanding of the subject matter. Completely different then the WHY for our financial products.
It’s that un-ending focus on solving the customers WHY that builds world-class products and companies. I hope to stay true to the WHY this time around.
Absolutely spot on insight here, Elia! I missed this post when you first put it up, but it was great to see this. Interestingly, in many of those discussions we had, I actually thought you knew the ‘why’– but this goes to show that making the implicit understanding EXPLICIT makes all the difference in how it affects your decision making and priorities. It also underscores a principle I remind myself and clients of constantly– every purchase decision is emotionally driven at it’s core. It is not a ‘logical’ decision driven by a ‘need’ (in this case for a calculator–there are claculators given away everywhere, and your customers likely own multiple solutions for doing these calculations with clients!). Products are bought to fulfill emotional needs– for respect, for fun, for control, etc. (See http://www.hotbuttonmarketing.net for a great resource on this)