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Are You Developing Your Service or Product in Vacuum?

It’s said that General Mills does not just manufacture cereal and then put it in a box. Their product teams first design the box and then bring in their manufacturing department to figure out what goes inside the box.

Please note: For the purpose of this article, I have used the terms “products” and “services” interchangeably with the assumption that all services could be defined as products and all products need to be seen as a service to the customer. 

One of the mistakes many businesses make is that they develop their services in a “vacuum” that is disconnected from the people who will benefit from them: their customers. As a result, they end up building the proverbial “mousetrap” with the possibility that the prospective clients may never come (or worse, it attracts lookie-loos and tire-kickers who are the wrong prospects for their product).

Perhaps a better way to view product development is as “concept” development. With concept development, a service or a product is built from the ground-up with the customer in mind. It integrates what the service exactly does for the customers, how it stands out as a unique solution to their problems and includes motivators that make them want to buy it. 
Think about your product or service, even if it’s something that’s not a prepackaged product like a box of cereal. How can you design your service as a concept? If it’s an existing service, how can you redesign it so that it’s not just a matter of pride in your business but also something that your potential clients will feel compelled to engage with?

A good way to look at a product concept is as a marketing message, which is often expressed as a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). What do you tell your potential clients about your products or services? Believe it or not, there is a formula for that. The best marketing messages have a few things in common.

First and foremost, a good marketing message clearly defines who your potential client is and how your product or service helps that person. This is true even if your business sells to other businesses. After all, businesses are made of people and your product or service will ultimately get used by people. A good message starts with WIIFM - “What’s In It For Me” - from your client’s standpoint.

Second, the message brings out and communicates - explicitly or implicitly - at least one thing about your service that sets it apart from other similar services being offered in your marketplace. This will eliminate those people who are not your prospects. But it will also attract and engage those prospects who truly are your prospects and will pay a little extra and try a little harder to do business with you.  

And third, it lays out the reasons why your prospects should believe your claim enough that they will take an action to engage with you in a meaningful way (click a button, request information or make a phone call, for example).

I have written a series of articles that goes in-depth into the mechanics of writing such a message. You can read them starting here. (They also include links to other related articles.)

I have also developed a template to help you develop just such a concept. You can download it here.

Copyright 2013 Bhavesh Naik. All rights reserved.

Bhavesh Naik is the Founder and Creative Director of Awayre, LLC, a management consulting and human resource development firm specializing in activating the hidden power of a business process by engaging its people’s awareness. Awayre, LLC is a pioneer in bringing human awareness to the field of management and human resource development as its structural and fundamental component.