Want More Sales? Simple. Create a Problem, then Solve It.

One impressive attribute to Apple’s incredible success is solving problems. More particularly, “creating” a problem and then offering an attractive solution. Distilled down, this is the art of identifying a common issue or need, and then supplying a fix or a fill for said need. Steve Jobs was a master of this strategy. Prior to the introduction of the iPod, consumers simply didn’t realize they had a need for an entertainment device that could store thousands of songs. The story goes like this. Steve Jobs was out for a run when he experienced problems with his MP3 device. This led to inspiration, which he realized that if consumers were given a far superior — albeit much more expensive alternative — they would leap at the chance to buy it. Of course, history shows that Steve Jobs’ instinct was spot on. Another epiphany struck him again and Jobs responded, ordering his company to get to work on a new state-of-the-art device. This, because he feared that competitors would take his successful iPod and integrate it into a multi-functional phone. Of course, this is the birth of the iPhone.

Perceived Necessity is also a Mother of Invention

The business lesson that people can take from these instances is that there are always consumer needs. Even if they are somewhat obscure, they still exist and are waiting to be filled. Both of these electronic devices prove that there was indeed consumer desire for such things, even if the public didn’t yet know they wanted them.
…when developing new products, processes, or even businesses, most companies aren’t sufficiently rigorous in defining the problems they’re attempting to solve and articulating why those issues are important. Without that rigor, organizations miss opportunities, waste resources, and end up pursuing innovation initiatives that aren’t aligned with their strategies. —Harvard Business Review
Both products became huge sales successes, as everyone now knows. But at the time, they were a gamble. After all, these were largely luxury items and did not completely match a fundamental, utilitarian purpose. However, their form factor and marketing made them irresistible to consumers and that’s why they’ve gone down in history as two of the most remarkable innovations of their era.

How to Identify a Problem to Solve and Sell

Although it might seem like too big a feat to pull off, you can take a page from the same playbook. (This is especially true if you’ve been in business for many years, but even that amount of experience isn’t necessary.) The point is that there’s always a need for some type of improvement, innovation, or invention. The question really comes down to necessity and appeal. Here are a few suggestions for how to identify a common problem to solve and sell its solution:
  • Identify a problem or need. Let’s begin with the super obvious — the need to hone in on a need or an issue that can be filled or fixed. If you’ve been working in your industry for some time now, this might even be a common gripe of yours. Think about some type of flaw or problem and that should get you started.
  • Structure an attractive solution. Once you’ve identified a need or problem, it’s time to come up with a workable solution. Of course, this is a lot easier said than done, but the time and effort could be worthwhile in the end. Keep in mind that there are certain elements that can really help your solution sell. For instance, being appealing, convenient, cost-effective, and applicable to a wide enough consumer base to make it valuable to the public. (Or, even to others inside of your own industry.)
  • Test out your new product or service. After you’ve come up with a methodology or product, it’s time to test it out. You should experiment in at least a few different settings, with various scenarios applied to the test environment. This will help reveal any shortcomings and will also provide inspiration as you see it in action. Testing will also help you determine its overall viability in the marketplace.
What other suggestions do you have for identifying a want, need, or issue and coming up with the right fulfillment or fix? Please take a moment to share your thoughts and experiences so others can benefit from your unique perspective! Interested in learning more about business? Then just visit Waters Business Consulting Group.

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