Customers don’t want to pay for features they don’t find valuable. Nor do you want to have such a lean offering that it doesn’t provide value. If you get this balance wrong, marketing is nearly impossible. How do you design the perfect service for your ideal customers?
We need to have services that deliver the value our customers are looking for at the best price possible while making a profit. But how do we find this elusive mix and ensure that we have it right?
To find a solution, we can borrow from the high tech and start up world and apply a customer development framework. Tech start ups typically try to move fast and test often. If they are slow to market they run the risk of being outdated before they launch or seeing another company release a similar product. If they get the feature set wrong, development can be slow, prices can be wrong and the market may not bite.
We can use a simple flow of build and test. After building your offering, test it. Based upon the results, repeat and refine and when you have it right, you’ll have a proven go-to-market product and marketing strategy set. This works great for new services or to test options with existing offerings.
The first step is to figure out what problem you solve. People make purchases primarily for one of two reasons; to remove a pain point or reach a compelling desire. Which one does your service enable? Don’t guess, ask your past clients or clients of similar services to get customer feedback and craft as specific a definition as possible.
Now determine the minimum feature set that will deliver the result you just defined. Stripped down, minimum, no frills, nothing shiny. Simply list the features and then design a minimum viable service that results in a satisfied customer.
Next craft a marketing flow that will funnel prospects into your business and help convert them into clients. This can be a manual sales process, digital marketing, or any other marketing that reaches your ideal clients. Take the time to create the process flow that results in attracting prospects, converting them into leads and making sales.
Get out of the building and see if your marketing and your service lead to sales. Interview prospects and get their feedback on your service, what do they like, what do they dislike, what is missing, what is extra and of no value? Get all the information you can about your offering and the prospects alike. Test your service to see if it fits the market.
Now is also the time to put your business model together. Your business model defines how you deliver value to your customers. While you’re testing, build your model on the fly. What channels reach your customers best? How do they prefer to receive communication? What partners do you need? How does your price and cost structure work to generate a profit? Rather than build this up front, put it together now when you’re testing your service and you’ll have much less rework and wasted time.
While your testing, you’re also validating and improving your sales and marketing process. You’re learning how your messaging works and what causes your prospects to respond. People you interview will tell you if your marketing resonates or if it doesn’t inspire action or curiosity.
Time to pivot.
Gather all that you’ve learned and have a quick lessons learned session. Once you’ve understood what you learned in the testing phase, go through the process again and make improvements that will help you find a minimum viable service, marketing roadmap and messaging, ideal clients and business model.
Repeat as often as you need to get to the point where you’re confident that you can release your offering into the marketplace. Once you’ve launched, go through this process periodically to evaluate where you can improve and to stay in touch with your customers and their needs and desires.