Giving Customers What They Need, Not What They Ask For

A Great App will Address an Essential Job in your Customer’s Life

 “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” – Steve Jobs, Business Week, 1998.

Misconception: If you survey people, they can tell you what it’ll take to create a killer app. After all, they know their needs, right?

People don’t know if they need or even want something if that thing doesn’t exist yet. The average person isn’t a visionary; that’s the province of the entrepreneur. Most people know when they’re frustrated or lacking, but they don’t embark on the creative process to make the thing that fixes their problem. The entrepreneur sees the struggle and the need and creates the solution.

The Problem/Solution Fit: Getting to the Essential Problem

One of the most common mistakes made when creating an app is to create a good solution for the wrong problem. A great app solves an essential problem. Humans are animals with basic, universal needs. Apps addressing those needs are needed in turn.

Take Uber. If Uber went around asking people if they needed Uber, they would’ve said no. How many people would’ve agreed that they needed an app on their phone to hail a random person to pick them up? No. They relied on taxis, as much as they complained about them.

Uber stepped outside the box and found the problem.

The essential problem wasn’t taxis, but getting from point A to point B. Uber created an app to solve this problem, and the solution sidestepped taxis. People had a reason to use this particular app.

Have an app idea? Great. Now go to the app store and find five just like it Focusing on the essential problem, while refining your idea, may get you to an untapped niche.

There were plenty of MP3 players before Apple revolutionized them with the iPod. Steve Jobs didn’t look to make a better MP3 player. He solved the essential job of adding high quality music to a person’s daily activities.

The iPod’s features –great ear buds, clickwheel interface, and speed and ease of transferring music onto the device — was a far cry from the mp3 players that essentially mimicked the Sony Walkman. Jobs also created iTunes, a way to legally get the mp3s. The average person had complete control over the music they heard….

….and the average person never asked for it.  It was Job’s focus on the essential job that made it happen.

Misconception: Don’t build for yourself.

You’re (hopefully) not so strange that you can’t relate to other people. You’re a human out in the world, aware of the needs you and other humans have. Consider how many products you use. Many of them started as an MVP created by an entrepreneur primarily to fulfill their own need.

What do you actually need and use?

What do you put on your phone or desktop? What can’t you do that wish you could do? Start here and consider your new app. You don’t have to consult anyone else for ideas. You’ve probably hit an essential problem in your own life and have thought of ways to solve it, because that’s your talent as an entrepreneur.

Your talent – the thing that drives you to create an app – is your ability to see opportunity. Opportunity exists where there is a deficit that you can fill. People will always have wants and needs, but not everyone has the gift to figure out the essential problem and what could specifically solve that problem. An app development team experienced in helping entrepreneurs refine and narrow their focus on the problem/solution-fit can help you go from creating an app that sinks down the abyss of the app store, or the one that gets downloaded and used.

 

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