You must think carefully about––and strategize around––your product’s potential impact before building and releasing it.
There are several things entrepreneurs need to consider before building and launching a new product or service. These include, for instance, the value proposition of the new product, its market validation, and how customers will use the product or service.
But perhaps the most important consideration is one entrepreneurs too often neglect: what is the impact your product is going to have on your users?
Most founders don’t forego this concern consciously. They focus myopically on the nuts and bolts of the product itself––its design, functionality, ease of use, time to market, etc.––and as a result, they overlook concerns like:
- What about the product will resonate in the eyes and minds of customers?
- What makes it different and uniquely valuable given the ecosystem into which you’re releasing it?
- And, importantly, what are the different potentially unseen ways it will improve or change lives?
Considering impact like this is a matter of thinking strategically and empathetically about what both existing customers and potential customers want and need from products like yours.
Doing this is what will make your business stand out.
Accordingly, you must think carefully about––and strategize around––your product’s potential impact before building and releasing it.
Neglecting to do so can have serious negative consequences.
For one thing, it can result in missed opportunities and weakened competitiveness; you can be sure that competitors moving the needle in your industry are very much thinking about impact all throughout their ideation and development processes. If they’re creating products they’ve more thoughtfully designed to impact the lives of users and you’re not, it simply makes sense that users will prefer their business over yours.
Similarly, neglecting to consider impact––releasing something your existing customers don’t actually want or need, for example––will alienate those who are loyal to you.
On the flipside, however, when you take the time to think through how, exactly, to best solve your customers’ problems and positively impact their lives, the opposite happens.
You win customer loyalty and become more competitive.
I’ve learned this from experience. My company, Violin Systems, designs and delivers enterprise storage applications. One of our customers, Collier County Public Schools––one of the largest and most technologically advanced K-12 districts in the U.S.––needed help supporting online testing for their nearly 45,000 students. Namely, they were having trouble with latency. It was critically important that their students be able to complete their testing––and their teachers be able to run reports––without interruptions or performance issues.
We met with district leaders to discuss what their needs were and garnered an understanding of the problems they were facing.
Because we were able to deliver on the sustainable and reliable storage solution they needed––enabling them to process even peak loads at maximum performance, making testing and reporting easier and more enjoyable and, in the process, impacting the lives of every student and teacher in the district––we won their business.
Ultimately, actualizing impact like this starts with identifying your customers’ needs.
In the case of our work with Collier County Public Schools, we knew what they needed was a storage solution which, among other things, ensured data was always instantly available (and could therefore deliver results and insights quicker). That we were able to form such a concrete vision of what they needed––and of what kind of impact our solution could make––is what allowed us to give them what they needed.
In winning future business, meanwhile, what we try and do is learn from current users, sales partners, and tech partners––obtaining, heeding, and implementing their feedback. We look at the numbers to quantify the value and impact as best we can.
This sort of insight, we find, is invaluable. You can use it to inform your thinking around what kind of impact you want your products to make––both as you continue to serve current customers and as you innovate applications relevant to new markets.
Thinking about impact like this is critical because it forces you to think about what audiences value.
It compels you, in other words, to approach product ideation and design with a goal to win both hearts and minds.
Companies and entrepreneurs who can do that win the race toward customer loyalty.