“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” ― Henry Ford
Customer-led marketing strategies are great for developing improvements to existing products and services. But when you want to innovate, your current customers may not be the resource you need.
To create new markets, talk to noncustomers to determine why they aren’t buying from you. What is keeping them away? What are their “pain points?” What is their relationship with your industry overall? Are there opportunities to create new products to meet their unique needs?
The Harvard Business Review writes this about it:
Consider Sony’s launch of the Portable Reader System (PRS) in 2006. The company’s aim was to unlock a new market space in books by opening the e-reader market to a wide customer base. To figure out how to realize that goal, it looked to the experience of existing e-reader customers, who were dissatisfied with the size and poor display quality of current products. Sony’s response was a thin, lightweight device with an easy-to-read screen. Despite the media’s praise and happier customers, the PRS lost out to Amazon’s Kindle because it failed to attract the mass of noncustomers whose main reason for rejecting e-readers was the shortage of worthwhile books, not the size and the display of the devices. Without a rich choice of titles and an easy way to download them, the noncustomers stuck to print books.
Amazon understood this when it launched the Kindle in 2007, offering more than four times the number of e-titles available from the PRS and making them easily downloadable over Wi-Fi. Within six hours of their release, Kindles sold out, as print book customers rapidly became e-reader customers as well. Though Sony has since exited e-readers, the Kindle grew the industry from around a mere 2% of total book buyers in 2008 to 28% in 2014. It now offers more than 2.5 million e-titles.
As your company changes, your customers change with you. Anticipate and facilitate that transition by including noncustomers in your marketing communications plans.