What you offer as a business is something that can be tangible or intangible. If you are a seller of “goods” (retail or web) then you offer something tangible but there is also an intangible selling of your product. That is the “value” of your product/service. To be sure you give out value to your customers one thing is needed. Find their problem. Oh, and you do not need to be a psychic to do that.
There are three areas you can search to find the sweet spot of really giving out value to customers. Let me just list them and then I will try to explain each.
- Feedback from customers, if you allow a conversation between you and them
- Look at market trends because trends are driven by peoples’ problems and not only hype
- Look around you. Yes, around you. As you pass by retail stores or digital stores you see products. Watch how customers behave in such stores, what do they look and how do they perceive your product on the shelf.
From my perspective, the above three points are really tough to find out when you are building a startup as I am right now. However, being a startup or already having a business running, there is always time/room to get feedback from customers. Focusing on businesses that already exist I suppose you have to be open to receive feedback at all times and not just spam your customer with deals and discounts. Why should I care if you drop the price 50% if I simply do not like your product? As a retailer, you can reach out and ask for customers’ email addresses and if they buy from you, simply ask them about their experience, if they find it interesting to shop from you and what should you change according to them, not you. Sometimes what you believe as an owner does not really matter.
Market trends are crucial since they give you time to prepare for a change in consumer behavior. When iphone’s started to flood the market, people, geeks, businesspeople started to download apps from the app store. By hiring an iOS developer early, you could affordably build an online version of your retail store, since everything is going mobile. Back then (2 years ago) you would have had a big advantage since you would be one of the few that would have an app for your store. Now, it is common to go mobile as soon as you have your website or even start a business only through a mobile app. That is just an example. Key insights for the upcoming mobile era can be found here
Right now, mobile users tend to spend less than the average user of desktop PC’s. However, statistics tell us that users start to use more and more mobile phones to surf the internet, shop, login to social networks etc. Therefore, that is a trend and it is only a matter of time that most of us will be online from our phones and do everything from there. Big companies such as facebook really find out difficult to monetize their visitors’ usage of their platform and it seems that they have a long way to go.
Now back to Greece whereI am based, as we are trying to build a startup – rentareto.com – our first concern was : What pain do we cure for our customers/society? (Value proposition) and the second is what differentiates us from the rest? Let me give you an example: A common practice after the boom of the Groupon/deal sites happening in Greece is to make quick bucks by building fast a deal site that is going to make a buzz for a year or two but unfortunately has an unstustainable value proposition/business model since there is no differentiation whatsoever. Even Groupon has financial and legal problems, imagine what happens to the rest. As we witness here in Greece, the first of these sites got the lion’s share but as more of these sites keep popping, ultimately the result is that most of them, due to lack of “value giving” they will close down harming also the first movers. As a friend told me, people that chase these coupons/deals visit restaurants and don’t spend a cent above the deal, meaning they don’t spend even to buy an extra coke. In the long run, these deals harm the businesses that offer their discounted services through these sites which in turn harms also the website since it has no “supply” of deals.
Bottom line : It is not about your solution – it is about their problem.
Besides this gloomy side of business in Greece, there are promising young startups that innovate and/or follow closely top practices from the US and other tech hubs of the world and try to make a difference. We should be proud of these people by not leaving the country for a “better” future and support them.
Stay tuned for some Greek startup analysis coming soon