I’ve launched a Twitter poll to see what people think is the best approach while developing new products/services. The poll has been featured among people with startup or entrepreneurial interests.
After looking at the results, I was surprised. To be honest, I was expecting a 65–70% for the “people buy progress” approach. So far from the results! Right now, it’s 47% for “people buy progress”.
After reflecting on it, I’ve come to two potential reasons for these results. On the one hand, probably not everybody understands what do I really mean with the question. Maybe I have not explained myself adequately, and I am using theory language like “Jobs To Be Done”.
On the other hand, I’ve thought that this result makes sense. 95% of new products fail, and often it’s because they don’t solve any problem, which is derivated from the “People buy tech” mindset.
Technology is not a problem solver. Humans are
💥 According to HBS professor Clayton Christensen, over 30,000 new products are introduced every year, and 95 percent fail.
🙄 Often the reason is that our products are not solving a real problem. Or what is the same, the product is not helping to progress somebody while performing a job to bo done. We tend to think that the new technology itself is what people need. We are wrong. We need things that make us progress with our Jobs-To-Be-Done (or tasks if you want).
Builder behavior vs problem solver behavior
🏗️ Unsurprisingly, the poll results are aligned with the “builder behavior” mindset I’ve seen during my 12 years in the tech sector and mentoring entrepreneurs. This behavior starts building “things”, and thinks about technology as a purpose, instead of trying to solve a problem with the help of the technology.
💡Alternatively, a “problem-solver” approach, designing products and services that solve real-world problems for an audience with the help of technology, is one of the keys to successful products.
Wants vs Needs. Customers don’t know what they really need.
"People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!"
I love this Theodore Levitt quote, professor at Harvard Business School, to easily illustrate what does mean that people don’t buy technology. As we may notice, most of the time, people don’t ask what we need. We need a quarter-inch hole, but we want a quarter-inch drill.
What do people buy?
- Buying technology: Buying the quarter-inch drill without the need of a quarter-inch hole. Maybe you buy it because you like it for home decoration….in which case you are not buying technology, you are buying progress with your home decoration job.
- Buying progress: Buying the drill because you are going to use it to make a quarter-inch hole…or whatever, but you have a more profound Job To Be Done to solve.
🤔 So, would you buy the drill if it’s not solving any problem for you?
✔️ Don’t build technology as a purpose. Leverage it to solve problems that make the people think they’re progressing.
✔️ Try to be a problem solver instead of a builder.
✔️ Look for needs underlying wants. Talk with your audience as much as you can to understand the underlying needs and problems to solve.
✔️ Use the Jobs-To-Be-Done you are solving (or how are you making your audience progress) in your marketing copy.