I’m no marketer, but as a marketer, I know that customers are ready to buy your products and services, but maybe not in the way you originally intended. How can you tap into customers to sell your products in a new and different way? You do it by creating online communities around your products, services, and their specific challenges.
In the classic logic of selling goods and services to people, you want to serve the need and solve the need. Maybe the market is crying out for a product that lets you look like a natural living creature that has power and freedom to do what you want.
Let me suggest a different approach, and let’s begin by creating a market for innovation by focusing on innovation in a different way.
Let’s start with a thought experiment that applies to your current business: What if you could easily connect to your customers to develop ideas that are tailored to the challenges and needs of your community?
An Idea Board for Innovation
A great idea board has a common structure of different columns to define areas of innovation, each of which can be developed and represented as a free form graphic. Each of the columns is supported by a particular question or concept that you want to explore to better understand your customers. Each of the columns can be used by your team as a common discussion point to generate ideas.
In the example below, I’ve used the columns as a simple concept mapping tool to show the potential innovation ideas I can develop in response to the community board concept I’ve created:
First, the initial concept of innovation for my community board represents an opportunity for the product team to establish a central place where customers can share ideas. I may not know the specific challenges my customers face, but I’m going to do my best to define and answer them. I’ll start with the question, “Are there challenges related to innovation and product development that you are facing and would you like to share some of them with me?”
The second question is a simple way to assess the initial opportunity and how I can expand the concept. When I want to develop a new product, I don’t start with a picture of a house. I start with what a customer is looking for and where my product can fit into that need. That’s where I develop ideas for the product that will satisfy the customer’s needs. The process of creating that product starts by identifying the challenges and challenges that your customer faces. The idea of innovation is how I can develop the product that fits into my customer’s need. The first concept in the innovation column is, “What opportunities do my customers have in terms of the product that I have to design, build, and sell in a way that allows me to solve their needs and challenges?”
If I’m selling a specific piece of technology, the idea of innovation may be to develop a way to help me improve my existing products or better connect my customers to solve the challenges of my customers.