How many times have you heard this story?

Savvy, intelligent person with a big heart and who wants to make an impact (and money) has a great idea that will solve a big problem. She researches the market, figures out what to develop and how to price it, and creates a detailed plan of action covering operations, marketing, and finance. She builds out her offering and then starts trying to sell it only to find….

Crickets. No one is interested. No one buys.

What did our savvy, intelligent, big-hearted impact maker do wrong?

She didn’t talk to any of her customers. Her perception of the problem and the belief that people will pay to solve it might have been misguided. Even when we experience a problem ourselves—and we would be willing to pay to solve it—we don’t often stop and think about whether or not anyone else would pay for it. Or how much they would pay. We assume that the specific problem we experience is what everyone else is experiencing.

Without talking to other potential buyers of our solution, we will never know if they feel the same way about the problem. More often than not, the visible issue that people struggle with is a symptom, not a cause. So we have to dig deeper into the underlying issue.

Our customers are the only ones who can tell us if we are on the right path and if we have something they would be willing to buy.

(Let me add one caveat here: If you are going for big, game-changing, industry-disrupting products this might not work. Henry Ford is rumored to have said: “If I asked my customer what they wanted, they would’ve said a faster horse.” People didn’t know they needed or wanted iPods or iPhones before they came out. In reality, however, most of us are not in this situation)

You also learn so much more about your target customer by talking to them. Not just the real problem they are struggling with and what kind of solution they want. You learn about their barriers to purchasing. You learn their true motivations and desires. You learn about things that really matter to them when it comes to your offering or industry.

If you listen well and develop a solution that truly meets your customer’s needs, the rest is easy. Marketing becomes easier because you can use your customer’s language to speak directly to them. You know exactly what to say. Client referrals go through the roof because they are happy to tell others about how your offering made a difference.

Ready to start learning about your customer and their needs today? Download my FREE guide on the four ways to get client insights today.