"If I need it, surely everyone needs it"
Or: Why is it crucial to talk to potential users from the start?
Do you know that feeling when you have an idea for a product that would make your life easier if it were exciting? So you look around and discover that it really doesn't exist.
You decide to develop it, assuming that "if I need it, probably everyone similar to me needs it too, and if I'm willing to pay for it, probably others are too."
And you start with an MVP, get a few customers, and it works but not well enough.
You don't understand why you aren't selling enough, what is missing, and why the conversion rate isn't high.
Is it marketing? Our messages? The places we advertise? Or do we need better salespeople? Or is it the high price, or the product not being good enough? Maybe the market has changed?
A million questions, and it's unclear where to start looking for answers.
The best thing to do is stop and analyze the funnel - understand where things are stuck.
Several projects I led recently started from the assumption that the founders knew what the customers needed.
This might be because the founders are from the same field. It might also be because they have already sold the product successfully until now, or because they have a high conversion rate in demo calls.
But something doesn't click until the end.
So after analyzing the process and understanding what we don't know, we turned back to the beginning.
And what is the beginning? Talking to potential customers.
In early-stage startups, or even if the business already running but not as well as you wanted, (assuming there's no marketing or sales skills issue) the best thing you can do is go back to talking to your users.
Conduct product validation calls (many of them). Learn what your customers' pain points are, how they handle them now, and whether existing solutions are adequate (or not).
It's important to know how to help them, what obstacles exist in implementing a new tool, and how to deal with the complexities they face.
Only after a deep understanding of your customers can you:
Define the persona - ICP, and what type of organization you sell to (B2B).
Define your unique value proposition and what the "selling point" that distinguishes you and closes the deal is - UVP & USP.
Understand these, and you can tell the story and turn your product into a must-have. * Only then can you think about a marketing strategy.
In the best case, you understand that your product has value, and you also understand who needs it and will be willing to pay for it.
The worst-case scenario (which isn't really worst, it's frustrating but a crucial turning point) is that your customers don't need your product. For a million reasons. And then you recalculate the route. But hey, at least you saved a lot of money, time, and energy.