Working backwards from the customer result- Part 4

Assumptions, Customers, differentiation, Marketing, single target market

Till now we have looked at the Future Reality tree, then we have highlighted the unsaid assumptions so we don’t miss a ‘snake in the grass’ which can mess up our plans. Then we identified the various use cases for a simple regular item like engine oil for cars.

Now let’s move forward with the example of the engine oil for cars. We identified OEMs (brand owners like Ford, Mitsubishi etc.), service stations and gas stations.

Lets take first – Gas stations. There could be gas stions which are right in the heart of the city and there could be those which are on the Inter State highways.  Both sell to retailers who come to fill gas and may ask for a top-up. But the ones on the highway will fill a larger amount of gas because they may be traveling long distance. Can you think of how you can package your engine oil sales with the higher intake of gas….

On the other hand the person who is taking gas in the city may not get his engine oil filled because he can send his car for service during the week end. So the gas stations in the city may see a lower number of people asking for engine oil versus the ones who are traveling long distance and want to have a hassle free ride.

For the product management person,  it is now important to figure out the kind of packaging she will do for these 2 different kinds of gas stations , the kind of pricing options, the kind of promotions…..there are so many ways to get creative to figure out how you can work through different markets within in a niche also.

But if you think of only engine oil as the niche then it becomes difficult to think of differentiated strategies. The moment you think from the end result – a person wanting a hassle free long distance ride you can start getting creative.

One person whom you should listen is Dean Jackson on his podcast morecheeselesswhiskers.com and another podcast that he does with Joe Polish ilovemarketing.com. Just listening to them will get your creative juices flowing.

Till next time then

Carpe Diem!!!

Working backward from the customer result – Part 3

Assumptions, Customer Delight, Customers, Marketing, Product Management

Now from here onwards, things get interesting. We have worked on the Future Reality Tree. We have identified the possible chokes / constraints in the system. We have also exposed the unspoken assumptions in our thought pattern.

So now we realise that the same Product or Service can be used for different use cases. And based on the use case the delivery can be different, the users can be different and therefore the method to reach them to give them your message can be different. This is where the role of product management stands out.usto

Lets take a very mundane example of an everyday product – car engine oil. Every car needs it. There’s not too much differentiation. Now the engine oil can be sold to the OEMs – here its a bulk purchase. It can be sold to the authorised service centres of the car companies – it will still be bulk purchase but the quantity and therefore the negotiations will be different. And you can sell it at gas stations (so you have to talk to multiple gas stations and the quantities are smaller) And you could also sell it via maybe big box retailers.

For each of these different markets your packaging would change, the people you connect to for getting the deal change.

So you identify each segment and how you will reach them, what are the dynamics. A big OEM may not want to add another vendor to their existing suppliers even if you have better product specs, because it can hamper production/roll-out schedules.

On the other hand a gas station may only keep small quantities of small size packages. Since she already has existing suppliers giving the products why should she look at yours.

This is where your true marketing creativity comes out, when you start working backwards from the end result.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Working backward from the customer result – Part 2

constraints, Customer Delight, Marketing

Yesterday we discussed on how you can start with the Future Reality Tree (FRT)from the theory of constraints. For this to work you need to have a very strong understanding of your market, so that you can keep the assumptions down to the minimum.

Once you have created the (FRT) it will also help you identify the chokes or constraints in the marketing process. This is the critical part because with this knowledge you can work on mechanisms to ensure that your process incorporates the constraint and then gives the result.

As an example if you are an author and you want the physical copy of your books to sell say 10000 copies in the first 30 days of its launch. For that to happen two things are critical – one is people know that you have a book coming out on a specific date and two they should go and buy it. For buying they have two options – online retailers and physical bookshops. Lets now only look at the physical book shops.

If a person knows that you are coming out with a book, and he reads your books and he likes to read physical copies of books and he does not like to wait for the book to arrive by courier/mail THEN he is a prospect for you to buy a book from a bookstore.

So how will he know that the book that he wants is available at the book store at the airport / railway station , when he is catching his flight/train. You will need to figure that out because now this is where everything can come to a halt. Whether you need to tie-up for signage with the shopkeeper, whether your books should be kept right at the entrance, then what would the shop charge you. You need to find that out and close all those pieces.

What this whole process of working backwards helps you do is come to what you need to do today – in the now / present – so that you can sell 10000 books from launch date to 30 days.

Today is all that you have. The future will come when it becomes “now” and we can’t forecast it. But we can take steps today.

So work on your customer journeys backwards to create delighted customers.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Launching a new product or service in B2B

B2B, Customers, Product Management

In this post I will only take one part – which is you already have customers for some other products or services and you are launching something new. In case you are getting totally new then you can read a lot of my older posts to help you achieve that objective.

For purposes of simplicity I will use the products, but the same logic would apply even when you’re launching a new set of services.

If you already have customers then whenever you are launching something new, the obvious thing would be to first take the new product to your existing customers. Nothing new here.

However I will put a little caveat. Start with your biggest customers and then go in descending order. The biggest customers are more invested in you and would like to succeed. Since they are big you will also get scale fast.

If you can also involve them at the 80% completion stage to use the product and advise on the glitches, then you will get real life feedback on the challenges that your product has technically as well in terms of customer experience. Large companies like Microsoft actually create Beta sites just with this objective.

Since these customers are invested in building the product with you , they will also own it more and will be more loyal. You may not get major revenue out of this, maybe even nothing. But if you have your large customers using the product then you can use them for reference purposes. That would be of much more value.

In this way you can reach critical mass faster.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!