How to Find Needs & Desires That Scale – or – What Gift Giving Has to Do With Your Goals

So you’re ready to create a new product or design a new collection. Further, you’re ready to take this baby to scale.

It’s go big or go home.

When your business creates a product that scales, you’re aiming to serve as many people as possible with a solution designed with them in mind. The danger is watering down what you offer. Solutions that scale are based on specific needs and desires, not on sweeping generalizations.

The key to discovering the specific needs & desires that scale is to examine particular customers you’d like to reproduce. You know the ones: you’re thrilled to see them on the calendar, you’re happy to package up their orders and send them a little something special, you’re glad to answer their questions and guide them towards the best purchase. They’re the customers who challenge you, thrill you, and inspire you.

Scale doesn’t start with a big idea. Scale starts with a single customer, a single problem, and single solution.

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Too often, business owners try to diagnose the problems of the market instead of an individual customer. You try to spot the trends, the big opportunities, instead of getting clear on what the person right in front of you needs most.

The go to tool for this? The survey. Don’t get me wrong, surveying your audience can be extremely useful. However, it’s not useful when you’re looking for your next idea. Use a survey when you want to know more about your customers’ experience with [blank] or their frustrations with [blank]. But don’t use a survey when you want to know what’s on their collective mind. It will (almost) always be a shadow of what is really true.

The people who are right in front of you–those customers who thrill, excite, and inspire you–are constantly giving you information. They are writing you emails, responding to your tweets, and giving you feedback on their purchases. The best tool for discovering the needs & desires of those right-in-front-of-you customers is your own mental archive. Trust yourself, trust your observations, trust the information.

The same way you know how to give the perfect gift to someone you love is the way you discover how to create a product that scales.

The thing about the person right in front of you is that her needs are felt by someone else. In fact, those needs are felt by countless others. Obvious? Perhaps. And perhaps what you’re doing when you go trendspotting is trying to identify those very needs. But when you survey the group, you inevitably water down your observations.

You turn your observations into “big ideas.” Those big ideas are great for getting buy in. They can motivate, entice, and enthuse. But, they rarely turn into a sale.

Scale is about precision: precise language, precise desires, precise solutions, precise connections.

Scale is about the perfect gift.

That kind of precision isn’t about demographics or profiles. It’s about meaning, belief, internal scripts, personal priorities, and core desires. You won’t discover those by going broad; you’ll find them by diving deep. Focus your energy, your intuition, and your magnifying lens on the people right in front of you.

That’s where you’ll find the needs that will scale.


Are you ready to unlock those needs?

That’s why I created The Customer Perspective Process. It will allow you to tune into your customers’ inner needs & desires and creating lasting systems for growth based on them.

Click here to find out about the next Customer Perspective Process boot camp.

We’re all in the idea business now.

The fax machine is suffering a long, slow death. The proliferation of home scanners, digital signatures, and cloud computing make it obsolete for any office workers living in the 21st century.

Businesses that were based on making fax machines & their supplies have been forced to pivot, incorporate new products, and evolve with technology.

They’re not running ads, breathlessly trying to convince people that their fax machines are still worth buying.

Not everything that is made is worth being bought.

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We all make stuff. We write books, we produce videos, we cast silver, work wood, code apps.

What differentiates the stuff that people want to buy from the stuff that they don’t?

Need. Need and ideas.

What do people need from you?

What are you constantly being asked about?
What are you constantly offering to help with?
What needs, problem, discomforts do you see all around you?
What change – large or small – would you make in the world if you could?
What do you complain about regularly?
What do you think should be easier, faster, more connected, less unpredictable?

For as “advanced” a society as we have, there is still a mind numbing amount of need all around us. If you choose to make something just because you can, not because someone has need of it, you are closing the door on a big opportunity.

Sure, make you want to make. Just don’t expect it to sell if there is no need for it.

Remember that need comes in all colors. I need jewelry. I need espresso. I need an app that syncs my brainwaves from one device to another. Sure, they’re 1st world problems. But people in the 1st world want to buy plenty.

Don’t over think it when it comes to needs. Respond to (even mild) frustration.

The need fax machines once filled is being filled – better – by other devices & services. Now, the need isn’t just for the transfer of information. There’s an idea that collaboration & personal connection need to be a part of the way we exchange information.

What idea do you want to spread?

Jewelry should help you make a statement. We can redefine commerce for the 21st century. Our digital networks are connected to our human networks. Knitting & crochet can save the world. You can create your own bliss in digital business.

The most memorable and successful businesses today are making products out of ideas. Apple turns unconventional thinking, design, and ease of us into cult computing products. Toms turns the desire to put shoes on 3rd world feet into cult footwear in the 1st world. Lululemon turns active lifestyle into cult workout clothing.

Their ideas are a big part of what makes their products worth buying, at the prices they charge.

Their ideas turn their products into symbols of community, advocacy, and shared-purpose.

I believe that we all have ideas that we want to spread. I believe that we all have frustrations we wish to ease. I believe that we all see problems in our communities and among our friends & family that could use our impact.

Channel those ideas into products that fill needs.

PS Not ready to take your ideas to the world? No problem. There are hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs out there who need you. They need to you make what they design, write what they think, market what they sell, sell what they offer. Align yourself to a company or visionary with a shared purpose and you can use the skills you have without putting your ideas to the test quite yet.

PPS If your business is built on ideas & real needs, you’re in the right place. Make sure you’re subscribed (below) to receive insight & updates on thriving in 21st century business. You are the New Economy.