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Who are your customers?

This question is a really important one to answer. Sometimes it’s easy, other times it can be a bit perplexing. Consider the case of companies whose products are sold to the general public, but are sold via intermediaries. Generally these intermediaries are incentivized in some form or another. This now brings about an interesting situation. Both the consumer and the intermediary are your customers. When you build a product, you now have to take 2 different perspectives into account. You have to make sure that the consumer’s and the intermediary’s needs are met by the product. This sounds simple. Surely if it’s good for the consumer, it’s good for the intermediary? Well,It’s not always the case. Have a look at how you incentivise your intermediaries and you may find it’s not structured optimally. Your intermediary may end up selling a competitor’s product which is as good for the consumer but also better for them!

In the end, dealing with this situation is no different from dealing with a single type of customer. Always start by going out into the field and meeting with both types of customers. Figure out what the motivations are for each and what problems they have. Try to get into their heads and empathise with them. Once you’ve got this information, use your crack team of engineers and product experts to put a prototype together of what you think a solution or product might look like that satisfies both customer types. The emphasis here is on prototype and not a final product, because you need to go back to both customer types and ask them for feedback. You may find that you will need separate prototypes for each customer type, as their needs may be different. Keep interacting like this until you find a workable solution and then only should you start building.

This inclusion of your customers in the process brings you a lot closer to your customers and because they’ve been consulted during the process, they become invested in the product and tend to extol it’s virtues from up high.

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