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  • Writer's pictureCameron Scott

Build it and they will come... Is wrong.

"Build it and they will come" is a famous motto popularized by the movie Field of Dreams. And while it's a nice phrase, it's completely incorrect in business.

Business owners and entrepreneurs tend to be people with big visions, and are inclined to build products and services that they believe are the ultimate solution to a big problem.

But even the most successful businesses on the planet started off by solving problems that weren't really big problems at all.

Take Netflix for example. They started off by selling mail-order DVD rentals. Where would they be today if they believed "if you build it they will come". How successful would they be if they didn't have a close eye on the market and what customers really wanted - an online streaming service.

Facebook is another classic example, originally intended as a platform for university students to connect with other people at their school. What if they didn't have the adaptability or vision to offer their services to everyday people and advertisers?

Nintendo, the household video games and console maker started off by selling playing cards. How many kids would choose a game of snap over Mario Kart today? If they didn't adapt, they would have stayed very small or not survived as a business at all.

There are thousands of business cases, where the original concept was very different from the final version of their product or service. But none of these companies would have got to where they are today without the invaluable insight that they received through the marketing and sales process.

Primarily by speaking directly with their target market to find out exactly what they wanted. Adapting and tailoring their services to meet the specific and unique needs their customers had. To be customer-centric and give them what they want...

If you're thinking about introducing a new product or service to the market - great! But don't for one second think that your job is done, it's far from it. Get out there and speak to customers, find out if they resonate with your offer, find out what pain points they need to be solved right now and how you can adapt your product or service to meet those needs even more effectively.

As Darwin said - "it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.”

This could not be more true in business. But the best part is, you don't need to have an extensive market research team to find out how to adapt to your market. All it takes is to have quality conversations with people in your target market. All it takes is a salesmanship mentality. Here are three ways to test your business idea via your sales and marketing strategy:

1) Split Test

Positioning matters. Think about all the possible value propositions that your product or service offers. Think about the various challenges you solve. Then strategically and methodically test different marketing messages through your lead generation approach.

Through this exercise, you'll find out which messages resonate best with your target market and you can begin to tailor your marketing, sales and delivery around those challenges and value propositions.

2) Focus on the benefits

Sometimes the product or service is almost perfect, but it's simply presented to the market in the wrong way. You might have the best product in the world to solve a need in the market, but if you don't focus on the tangible benefits that your customers will derive from your product then you will not be successful in getting it off the ground.

Because they are so intertwined in the making of a product or service, many business owners succumb to feature heavy marketing messages - speaking extensively about how the product works and ignoring the end-user benefits is a fatal error.

To quickly distinguish between the two: Features are things about your product, which are technical or descriptive. Benefits are the reasons why those feature matter for your customer.

Let's take a quick example, like an office chair:

FEATURES: Black desk chair. Pressurised seat height adjustment. Highly resilient polyurethane foam. Armrests with Aluminium, Epoxy/polyester powder coating

BENEFITS: Our desk chair has been specifically designed with intense comfort in mind, ergonomically engineered to prevent back pain and ensure you maintain a perfect posture regardless of how many hours you spend in front of the screen.

Same product - presented in very different ways.

3) Sell it!

It's a shame, but often people think that sales is wrong - for whatever reason, maybe it's an unconscious bias that sales is about pressure or forcing people to do things. This couldn't be further from the truth. When you have something great to offer, sales is not something that you do to people, it's something you do with them and for them.

If you have a product that you genuinely think will solve a challenge in their market and you 100% believe in it then it's your duty to sell it to them.

In the process of selling it, you'll inevitably find additional ways to serve your market, adapt your solution and make the necessary tweaks for it to resonate with an even wider market - but it all starts with a commitment to sell.

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