You have to become badass at finding and validating market problems to have a successful product business. This post will help you assess where you are now, and where you need to focus to get (even more) badass.
And by now you know which of these I think is the most important. (Hint: #1.) Because if your product isn’t a solution to an urgent and pervasive market problem, no one will buy it.
There are many techniques for finding and validating market problems. They involve extensive interaction with customers and prospects to elicit problems, pains, needs, and desires using open-ended questions. (That is, you can’t just ask “What are your big problems?”) This is followed by analysis of what you’ve heard to surface and identify problems. Then those must be validated to determine which are valuable to solve, and which align with your organization’s abilities and business goals. I’ll get deeper into those techniques in a future post.
In this post we’ll focus on framing the process and assessing how you’re doing. (Inspired by Kathy Sierra’s Badass ideas, if you’re keeping score.) Here are some questions you can ask yourself – answer honestly – to gauge your process for finding and validating market problems.
Like any worthwhile activity, the process of finding and validating market problems is difficult. And it’s time consuming. You need to spend time “outside the building” talking to and interacting with the market. There are a number of other challenges you may face:
Every other step in the product lifecycle depends on having important and valuable market problems to solve. Most everything else you might do as a product manager is meaningless if you’re building a solution without a problem:
“People pay you for a solution to a problem.”
Therefore, to have a successful product, you need a process for continually finding new problems – both big and small – to solve for your customers and prospects.
Your host and author, Nils Davis, is a long-time product manager, consultant, trainer, and coach. He is the author of The Secret Product Manager Handbook, many blog posts, a series of video trainings on product management, and the occasional grilled pizza.
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