If you’re a business owner, there are a handful of things you must be doing. For one, you must be offering some sort of good or service to customers- after all, that’s the basic function of a business. Chances are also good that you know your customer- the target audience to whom you’re selling your service or product. However, there’s something that’s vitally important that you may not have thought about yet: unmet need. This aspect of the marketing strategy is often completely overlooked, yet if you can find the unmet need of your target customer you will have uncovered a huge tool to increase your success. Unmet need is such a crucial part of the sales and marketing strategy that Daniele Lima and I made sure to discuss it in the third part of our niche marketing and sales seminar series, which can be found at DanandMatt.com.
What is an unmet need? Well, as a business owner, you know that the product or service that you sell meets a need; otherwise no one would buy it. Say, for example, that you open a Laundromat in an urban area. You are meeting the needs of those who don’t have washers and dryers in their apartments; obviously, they still must get their clothes washed. So, your customers pay you to use the machines that clean and dry their clothes. However, there’s likely still an unmet need, whether they know it, or not. Sometimes, customers know that their needs aren’t being met and are aware of what might make the situation better. Other times, they may not be able to identify what their other needs are—and it’s your job to figure it out. Finding this unmet need and delivering it to customers is the key to differentiating yourself from the competition and achieving rapid success. Just look at the success Pizza Hut experienced by guaranteeing delivery within a specific time or the pizza would be free, or that was encountered by Domino’s Pizza after providing online ordering. Both of these needs are ones that most customers wouldn’t have even thought of; they just knew they hated waiting for pizza or receiving something other than what they ordered due to miscommunications over the phone.
So what is your customer’s unmet need? As a business owner, you must communicate with customers and/or prospective customers to discover the answer. Asking customers the questions below can help you understand what their unmet need(s) might be:
- Why they buy or don’t buy your product or service.
- What they feel before ordering this product or service.
- The challenges they face getting this product or service.
- Of these challenges which one provides them the greatest inconvenience?
- What might make their lives easier when ordering or using this product or service.
- If they had a magic wand and as a result didn’t have to x. What would x be?
While people may not be able to give you extensive details, they often have a general sense of what it is they want that they’re not yet getting. These questions will help you gain a much better understanding of what their unmet need could be; it will help them understand it, too. Going back to our Laundromat example, perhaps your customers say they never seem to have the change they need to run the machines, or perhaps they say they hate waiting on site to keep their clothes safe; perhaps they even say they get bored. The information your customers give you will allow you to piece together what the unmet need(s) may be and meet them to achieve market advantage. In these cases, perhaps you could offer a TV above each washer and dryer, or perhaps you could find a technology that locks the washers and dryers with a credit card swipe to keep clothes safe, and also bills the customer so they don’t need coins. There are many possible solutions to fill these unmet needs; your job is to decipher which unmet needs, if met, would give you superior market advantage, and which would simply be nice to have; then go about incorporating the ones you believe will be most helpful.
Once you have some ideas of what the unmet needs of your market might be and how you would go about meeting them, it’s time to test possible solutions. Before spending money ask your customers, “if I were to offer something like x, would that be a help to you?” In this way, you can gain great insights and learn how to tailor a product to them.
So, start communicating with your customers about what might improve their experience with your business, or the industry in general. Listen to feedback, and introduce changes or technologies that will address those needs. The secret to success is really this simple, so use the power of meeting unmet needs to get a piece of that success in your market today.