The Message Matters
When Jon works on a play, he starts with the message he wants to convey and the point he wants to make. He weaves the story around the messaging and develops the characters through dialog and lyrics. Jon knows he needs a strong, clear message to engage the audience.
Jon’s update of “Paint Your Wagon” is similar to a product renovation. Whether you are creating a new product or updating an existing product, it is critical to ask what the customer or consumer needs.
Technology Push Versus Pull
Often, as a product nears the end of its lifecycle – either an under-performing new product or one that’s been available since “Paint Your Wagon” first debuted – the questions asked are ‘what could we make on our current lines’ or ‘what should we make that’s profitable’. While the answers might help get a profitable product out faster, the approach is inwardly focused. The risk becomes creating what we think the customer needs, or emphasizing the technology we have, rather than understanding and responding to actual needs.
Human-centered design can help
How can you get a better understanding of customer needs to create new products or update existing products? You can get closer to customers through human-centered design. You can explore customer needs through ethnography or voice of the customer, or watch customers use and comment on a product in order to identify missing attributes or features. You can define core value propositions and messages, incorporate them into the product and reinforce them in messaging and marketing to engage customers in a new way, even with an existing product.
Good innovation starts with asking what the consumer needs. Then you design the product experience to meet that need starting with your product knowledge, production lines, brand names, and packaging approaches that make sense to fit that need. To meet the consumer or customer need you might have to change some of your approaches – just as Jon added new songs and changed some characters to tell the story in a way the audience needed to stay engaged.
My advice? Stay focused on the consumer need and you’ll be ‘on your way’.