It is said that top companies optimally understand the needs and preferences of their customers. However, 52(!) percent of the companies listed as Fortune 500 in the year 2000 ultimately had difficulties with the relevant offers, because they no longer exist today.
Aristotle already knew more than 2000 years ago: "There are two things on which all human well-being and success are based. One of them is that the purpose and goal of action is set correctly, the other is that the action leading to the goal is found."
Applied to customer-oriented offerings, this means:
Offer what your customers want
Develop strategies to implement ideas in a targeted manner
A process for increasing relevance that works
Three years ago, with the support of Hartmann Ventures, I developed a process that combines traditional value proposition design with design thinking on the one hand, and on the other hand achieves optimal results in a short time with the smallest possible input.
This process has proven itself to date and has become more mature with each experience with our projects at mindnow. In essence, however, it is still about offering exactly what customers (or in the case of digital products, we are mostly talking about users) want on the market and ultimately creating hyper-relevant offerings to match.
That's how it's done:
Step 1: Value proposition
Start with your target audience: define personas together with all relevant stakeholders. This will help you think from the user's perspective in the next steps. Map your target group based on these 3 personas:
Lead users are absolute specialists. The benefit of a product or service is central to them. Lead users know about the industry and offerings on the market, have high expectations, and are the first to try out innovations. Some companies even involve them in the design process before the official launch.
Heavy users are all those who use your offers very strongly and often, your regular customers, so to speak. They are loyal and know your company well. Your heavy users are valuable - you definitely want to keep them, because they are your revenue generators.
Future users are your future customers. They are especially important in the big question of relevance, because after all, you don't just want to be relevant now, you want to be relevant 20 years from now. This user group must not be shortchanged at all when creating the hyper-relevant offer.
Then think about the needs of your personas. Where are they in life, what do they value, what frustrates them? Find the gains and pains.
Once you have defined your user personas and their needs - ideally in collaboration with employees and customers - summarize your results in the value mapping.
List all of your company's services and compare them to the needs, desires and characteristics of your target group. How well do they match your current offering?
Assign a need to each individual service and justify your decision. Why exactly can this service satisfy this need? If you cannot find a plausible argument, this indicates that the existing service is inadequate or that you do not offer it at all. In other words, you need to either optimize the service or bring it to market first to be relevant.
Define a strategy for how you want to position yourself in the market and adjust your optimized or newly introduced services accordingly.
Step 2: Design thinking
Now the task is to fill the gaps identified in step 1. Design thinking is a systematic and at the same time creative process for brainstorming that focuses on - you guessed it - user needs.
Essentially, design thinking is about the cycle of rapid prototyping, testing, tweaking, and then starting over again. You send your offering through this cycle a total of three times, each time with subsequent prototypes:
The foundation: Critical funkyness prototype
No, this isn't about being funky, it's about asking "What critical features does my solution need to perform?" Recall the optimization or novelty defined in Step 1 and, to that end, think of three requirements that your offering absolutely must meet. Ideally, you will work out the answer to this (additionally) with the help of customer research.
At this point, the critical features you have identified do not have to be directly related. You will determine how to connect the features later. The Critical funkyness prototype is first about collecting and validating the most important features.
Out of the box thinking: Dark horse prototype
This prototype is not only incredibly effective, it also really adds fun to the process. It loosens things up, making it perfect for the second round in our design thinking cycle.
The Dark Horse Prototype is all about pushing boundaries and thinking out of the box. In horse racing, the "dark horse" refers to the outsider, the dark horse that nobody bets on and therefore has enormously high odds. It may be unlikely that it will win, but it is worth taking a closer look.
Here's how it works: Together with your relevant stakeholders, you look for the good qualities of the dark horse. These can be the wildest and craziest ideas, as long as they are in some way relevant to user needs. Once you have collected your ideas, you will find that some sub-aspects might actually be useful for your prototype.
Important: Don't leave it at assumptions! Build your findings right into the prototype and look at the reactions.
Final spurt: Final functions prototype
The final prototype is about putting the individual features through their paces once again. To do this, you disassemble the result of the first two prototypes into its individual parts and analyze and test every feature to date down to the last detail.
Then you reassemble the individual parts, but this time (in contrast to the first prototype) in such a way that they are logically connected. In addition, your final prototype should be user-friendly, offer real added value compared to your current offering, and ultimately be practical to implement.
Hooray - the hyper-relevant offering prototype is ready! So there is only one step left to make it market-ready: implementation.
Step 3: Value implementation
In short: Iterative wins!
Adhere to the following basic rules for Value Implementation:
Plan in short cycles
By stringing together short cycles, you not only achieve a short time-to-market and thus get feedback from the market more quickly, but you can also control your processes better.
It is difficult to identify potential on your own
Involve your employees and (lead) users on an ongoing basis. If necessary, make use of external consulting (for example, in the form of an ideation workshop).
Never stop improving
Even if you think you already have the maximum relevance to offer your clients.
Just do it!
This is the only way you will become an innovator. Otherwise, there is a risk that your company will no longer exist in 20 years.
First, find out where you are right now and where you want to go. Then deal with the question of how to get there.