Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Heart of the Question

I had a great learning moment yesterday.

I was attending an annual planning meeting for a mid-sized business, and we were going through a strategic exercise to discuss, “What do our customers value?”

It seemed like a good way to review the needs of the company’s clients and prospects, and make sure we were meeting them. But there was also an expectation that it would help us discover some new unfilled needs that would point the way to new products and opportunities.

Trouble was, we were getting bogged down. People in the meeting, quite naturally, kept bringing up things that clients value that the company already does. Since this firm is already pretty client-focused, that meant we were mainly creating a list of things the company is already doing well.

How to make customers’ unmet needs stand out? I suggested we ask another question: "What do our customers take for granted?"

Suddenly, most of the things we already do for customers could be put in the “take for granted” category, and set aside. They're just table stakes. What matters are the things customers value that nobody is supplying now – because that’s where the best “adjacent opportunities” lie in wait for you.

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