The power to know what the customers want

Avoid building products that nobody wants

There is no crystal ball out there to help makers see exactly what product would sit well with consumers or not. Besides market research and studies, which by the way don’t guarantee product success in the market, entrepreneurs and business people do “bet” on their product offering oftentimes, churning out a handful of products and expecting a few to be successful.

The question now is, what about the enormous waste that accompanies this kind of process?

I have been guilty of this “waste” too, I have had to register numerous domains in the paste, set up WordPress sites and all, only to tear everything down when it became clear the ideas were flawed, not the right market, government policy blocks such, I wouldn’t be able to afford the cost of starting the business fully etc. This is obviously as a result of poor planning, which is common with Startups (who usually work as lone founders). 

A few comments from fellow indie hackers (independent creators), buttressing this “waste” issue are show below:

“I’d say I’ve purchased over 70 domains, most are expired and back on the market though but certainly a waste of time and money.” Jeff (@jch, Indie Hackers*)

“Haha just made a list of my domains and usage… What a shame. I own 8 which I still pay but the projects went to the graveyard, 5 which are still “under construction” (before launch), 6 domains that I just saved because maybe I will start some projects eventually (but don’t know yet). My complete list of online domains (but some without projects behind them) is 35…” Justin (@Harrjm, Indie Hackers*)

“The domain graveyard. Me and my business partner were actually laughing about our number of domains that started with the grandest of ideas…Same story here… I have 5 domains sitting in different states of completion. I wish there was a more structured way of avoiding the waste (that’s if you are serious about building a commercial product).” Marius Fermi (@melomal, Indie Hackers*)

However, the discussion today is focused on building the right product for the consumers. That is, all things being equal, how do you figure out the right product for the right customers?

The solution

  1. Build good product
  2. Identify the right market
  3. Talk to the customers before you build, while building and after you launch. A closed loop feedback system is required.

Addressing the first 2 points, I would say authoritatively that in terms of technical capability, over 90% of Indie Hackers are very sound and build high grade software solutions with great user experience. They don’t do badly in identifying the right market-fit. A skill most have acquired over time especially with information being available on click of a button thanks to the internet. There are also numerous professional consultants in that field to advise and guide at affordable rates. 

Now the elephant in the room remains how to know what the customers want, by asking them of course..

“One of the biggest issues that I have seen people face is that the minute they try reaching out to potential users, they get dismissed as someone advertising their product. Quite a few places now have a “No advertising” rule and ban anyone who tries to advertise their product. I’m curious to see if others have seen this and if so, then how they got around it and getting people to talk with them.” Alex Karezin (@javadiagrams, Indie Hackers*)

It’s all in the manner of approach!

“I think this depends on the industry and how you phrase the reach out. I’ve had about 20% conversion (20 people in my target market hopped on a video chat) from cold non-personalized email because I say I’m researching a problem rather than building a product.” (@maybeimtheproblem, Indie Hackers*)

Customer feedback

Customer feedback is the ultimate solution to building not just great products, but successful ones as well. the kind of products that the customers would be willing to pay for. Product built around the customer value proposition that obviously offers a lot of value and brightens the customers lives.

SuperBI

www.superbi.co

SuperBI was built just for this purpose. A customer feedback analytics platform.

customer data platform: entrepreneurs  and business owners use SuperBI’s platform to collect, process and analyze customer feedback.

Never make a business decision without data insights!

SuperBI empowers consumers: Social Proof is the new currency for customer acquisition. Commend when you are happy, vent when you are not.Your power to drive service excellence is enormous, use it!

Best resources for marketing a new product

I have made a list of some of the best resources for launching your products to acquire users. For free! I cannot claim to have used all, but I have used some and all came well recommended with good user reviews and high ratings.

This will help you quickly get your product fired up at zero cost!

Resource
URL
Type
Comment
Appsumohttps://appsumo.comDeals MarketplaceFantastic place if you get accepted. I submitted my 2 books and I get 70% revenue share.
The 2nd book, i got a bonus of 90% revenue share for the 1st 90 days.
They offer lifetime deals on softwares, 30% net revenue to the creator.
Product Hunthttps://www.producthunt.com/Communityensure you engage your friends and social circle ahead of launch
Quorahttps://www.quora.com/Communityyou need to write lot of useful content before you get noticed.
Facebook Forumshttps://www.facebook.com/CommunityFocused groups. Your posts will receive good attention and comments
Indiehackershttps://www.indiehackers.com/CommunityCommunity of like minds - creators
Makerloghttps://getmakerlog.com/CommunityCommunity of creators.
IndieStackhttps://indiestack.co/CommunityCommunity of creators.
Hacker Newshttps://news.ycombinator.com/newsNews BlogGood active audience on daily basis
Own Blogsyour website's blog pageBlogwrite quality original content, SEO compliant to drive organic traffic
Linkedinhttps://www.linkedin.com/Social Mediaa great resource for marketing a new app, especially if you plan to charge for your product in the future.
Instagramhttps://www.instagram.comSocial MediaInstagram Feeds and Stories are big deals these days. post quality content and constantly - at least 4 times a week
Twitterhttps://twitter.comSocial MediaGreat space for serious work.
Reddithttps://www.reddit.com/Communitybig subreddits like r/Entrepreneur, r/Marketing brings lot of traffic
Betalisthttps://betalist.com/CommunityBetaList is a community of makers and early adopters

Pricing development for Startup businesses and Entrepreneurs

Customer value

Value has many definitions depending on the customer perspective. However, two terms that come out most often are Price (value of a good meal?) and Benefit (how delicious is this meal?). Naturally, customers are willing to pay a good Price for products they consider Beneficial to them. 

Customer Value is the perception of what a product or service is worth to a Customer versus the possible alternatives. “Worth” implies if the customer feels he or she got benefits and services over what s/he paid. In a simplistic equation form, Customer Value is Benefits minus Cost (CV=B-C).

The cost to the customer is not only the cash element but also non-cash elements like time, effort, inconvenience etc. in engaging and using the product or service. This is the reason it is very key to ensure a well-thought through customer journey map for all products and services. All the touch points such as discovery, purchase, billing, usage and support need to be optimized such that the customer drives the best experience from each.

Some recommended pricing models

  • Premium pricing

High price is used as a defining criterion. Such pricing strategies work in segments and industries where a strong competitive advantage exists for the company. Example: luxury cars.

Pros:  Good if you are an established premium brand. Focus on the high value consumer niche.

Cons:  Hard to sustain as a small/unknown brand. 

  • Economy pricing

Low and no-frills pricing.

Margins are wafer-thin; overheads like Marketing and advertising costs are very low. Targets the mass market and high market share. Example: Ryanair, Southwest Airlines. 

    • Pros: Good for non-premium products and services targeting majority of low-income earners and businesses with low cash-flow.
    • Cons: Consumers will associate your low price to low product or service quality. You need to counter this perception by communicating and offering good value.

  • Freemium pricing model

This is very common in mobile apps and Games as well as digital services space. The mobile app is download free of charge and some basic features are free while the core features and in-app gems and power-ups (in terms of Games) are billed. It’s a very good model to lower the barrier to entry to your product. It also gives the customer a taste of your product before making any purchase decision.

  • Subscription model (daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly)

Customers would have to subscribe and pay upfront for your services. Typical subscription cycles include daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly etc. Ideally, the service or content is meant to be provided in an unlimited value to the customer within this subscription period. However, in reality, there are fair usage caps in the volume of content provided to avoid abuse and manage capacity.

 

  • Auto-renewal

This is not a pricing model, rather is a billing management model aimed at ensuring service continuity and quality experience to the customer. Automatic renewal (auto-renewal) means the subscription will be automatically renewed at the end of the validity period, unless it is canceled before the renewal date.

 

  • Grace period

Some service providers will grant you extra days to pay up the bill post expiry of current validity period. The services are terminated at the end of the Grace period and the customer fails to renew the subscription. This model is good for service continuity and customer experience enhancement as some customers would not have the required funds at the point of service expiry. It is good practice to duly notify the customer pre, within and post Grace period. This will remind and encourage them to pay up. It also helps the service provider to retain the customers for extra days before terminating the service to minimize discomfort, attrition and churn to alternative service providers.

 

  • Micro billing

Micro billing is an interesting model that allows the customer to pay for “micro” subscriptions when they do not have the full amount for the full subscription. Example, a service of 30 days validity costing 100$ can give micro billing validities of 15 days at 50$, 10 days at 20$ and 5 days at 7$ etc. This flexibility ensures service continuity, pocket-friendliness and allows the service provider to earn revenues s/he would have lost if the service only allowed for full subscription amounts.

 

  • Free trial

Free trial offers the service for free to new customers for a certain limited number of days. This model allows the customer to understand the product and its benefits before making any purchase decision.

14 great Pricing development tips

1. Create a free plan. It might be a good idea to have a lead magnet or low priced tripwire offer as a starting point. Maybe offer one or more of the evaluations for free.

2.  Trial plan…

3. $4.99 is interpreted by our brain as way cheaper than $5.  And this small feel-good factor at that moment of making a purchase decision can make the difference.

4. Create long term plans to a) Lock customers in (retention) and b) extract more value from them (getting payments upfront and carefully calculated discounts)

5. Clear visual contrast between sale prices. Visual distinction between the sale price and original price is powerful. If the new (lower price) is bold, big, and a different color, that will make the sale price seem more appealing.

6. Create a sense of urgency (even if it’s a false alarm).  

    • Very limited stock! 
    • Limited time offer
    • Prices will never be this low again! 
    • One chance left  on this Bus!
    •  700 people have this in their cart!

7. Overestimate the perceived value of a discount. 20% off $50 price sounds bigger than a $10 discount on the same price (though they are mathematically the same).

8. Communicate lifestyle value rather than price amount for relatively common and affordable (non-premium) products. “Our dishes are delicious and nutritious” would work better than “we offer the most affordable meals in this neighbourhood”.

9. Show consumers that a lot of effort and care was imputed into making the product. This upscales the perceived value of your products in their minds. Doing this without sounding complicated or confusing to consumers (need to adapt the language complexity to your target consumer segment, don’t use technical jargon for non-technical market segment etc) will let the consumers have a feeling that you put a lot of effort in making the product/service and must be a well thought-through product. Examples of sample phrases:

    1. Carefully curated content.
    2. Data analytics sourced from carefully curated data points and analysed by deep learning algorithms…
    3. Our Coffee is 100% organic…

10. Decoy pricing – this pricing model creates a sense that a particular price plan is the best. You can use this model to drive traffic to a particular price plan (may be the most profitable from your business case analysis). Let’s take for example you have a BASIC plan of $5, a PRO plan of $7 and a PRO MAX plan of $7.50, a lot of customers would go for the PRO MAX plan. The PRO plan in this case was just set up to boost sales of the PRO MAX plan.

11. A reversal of the Decoy price above would be to create a very expensive plan to serve as the anchor price. For example, you could have an expensive dish on your menu that most people won’t buy. By having a $50 dish on the menu, diners are more likely to shell out $30 for other menu items because it seems reasonable in comparison. This is called.

12. BoGoF: Buy one get one free. BOGO compels people to buy something at full price and often spend more than intended. Prices are set high enough to cover the “free” item. 

13. You need a refund policy

14. Social proof. People are more willing to do something if other people are doing it. Using reviews and testimonials as part of advertising earns trust.  One way to do this immediately is to include proof though testimonials, case studies, etc. 

The future will take care of itself

So, I was having breakfast today with the kids. Just regular sliced bread and fried egg.

I sat at the table after they had all taken their own slices (I have 3 sons, Michael 9, Kevin 8 and Richard 6). The first thing I noticed was that they skipped the first slice of bread, you know the brownish slice that feels a little hard.

Me (to no one in particular, in a not so serious tone): You don’t eat “back of bread”. You think it’s not part of the bread or not edible?

Then I continued in a slight monologue, they were trying to respond but, mixed with their incessant chuckles, I was bent on finishing my mild rant first before I hear anyone out.

Me: Anyway, when u start making your own money you will find out it’s actually edible.

Me: Do you’ll even know that making money is hard?

Still no one is responding to me, so I decided to engage one by one. I started asking direct questions.

Kevin seems to take charge, he is more vocal of all, so I was unconsciously expecting him to speak up.

Kevin (in a calm, casual manner, in between chewing a piece of bread and sipping of his tea): There are easy ways.

How? I muttered, my eyes lighting up a bit in anticipation of this easy way I hadn’t figured out in 40 years of my existence!

Kevin: Yes, there are easy ways.

Richard (in between chewing and chuckling):  You can steal it like they do on TV (too much police and thief games I think.).

I took a break to explain to him that is a bad thing to do and there are consequences etc. a couple of minutes of lecture to him and I focused back on Kevin, part of my mind (in a non-serious way) eager to hear his easy method of making money.

Me: How do you make money the easy way – I repeated a few times.

He was busy chuckling and eating, perhaps waiting for me to push more for him to divulge his secret plan, or just not ready to let me into his secret plan yet. He kept saying it was his secret and he won’t tell.

 

A couple of days back, I had had a discussion with a friend about what the future holds for our kids given all the stuff happening with respect to digital bridge and the world becoming one small competitive digital village, AI and the loss of jobs, Covid19. You know, how would their life be, what jobs would they do and how would they survive etc. Well, at least we ended the discuss by leaning on the hope that the world would always take care of its future.

So, here I was, eager to hear from the future, on the same issue. Lol. At this point, I was doing a mental scan on what this easy way could be…

Kevin is an extremely “curious cat”, you know the kind of kid who knows about everything in the house, that fixes the TV remote and all other electronic and non-electronic stuff. Almost always busy with his laptop. So, from way back, I have been on the lookout for him, trying to guide his energy to stuff I feel are more positive – learn how to code (yes, they should start early), how to type properly, how to do this and that – all the serious stuff. Then of course I also allow them have fun by playing games and all. The way they figure out those “complex” games is amazing. He spends lots of time on laptop playing Minecraft and all, and less of watching regular TV.

 

Back to the breakfast table –

Me: So, please can you tell me now?

Kevin: I will make money by becoming a YouTuber

I felt he might not have fully understood what he was saying and with some “I dare you” and a bit of sarcastic smile, I blurted out (in a kind tone) a few questions like – do you even know what a YouTuber is? What do they do? Do you know any kid who is a YouTuber?

He responded, now in an excited high tone – telling me about the channels he has seen, the names, how many videos, views, subscribers and how he would be famous and rich doing that – this kid is 9!

Well, let’s just say I was the one who didn’t really know the answers to my own questions, I turned to my laptop after breakfast and quickly made a small research – he was right! I kept muttering to myself as I check out a few kid-YouTube channels…

Bam! Not the answer I was expecting, my mind never went there at all..

I recovered quickly and saw the great positive in what he said. This could be a way of the future taking care of itself, I thought. This could be one way for me to step in and guide him unto something positive.

I scanned my brain and immediately took over the discussion. I told him how it’s a wonderful idea and what kind of topics he could be creating. How he needs to think outside the box and record whatever he is doing as potential content. Means he has to perform quality tasks for people to appreciate and enjoy – whether he is doing house chores, school work, playing games on the laptop, building stuff, all could be potential content for his channel.

We spent the next couple of hours creating the YouTube channel and making the first video. Of course, my wife and I were the first to like the video and subscribe to the channel.

 

Well, the moral of this story for me is, never worry too much about the future, just focus on being an ENABLER of the future. The future will take care of itself. Very well!

He is super excited about the whole stuff; his siblings are in full support and both act as director and hype -man in the videos – or just support/crew. For now, they are glad to play whatever role.

 

Please show him some love and subscribe/like his videos…

Channel name: FIREM DUDES (firem is his Minecraft character name. lol)

Intro Video is below: