Suprising versus Satisfying Your Customers

Surprising Them May Be Better Than Satisfying Them (Courtesy of Anthony Cain)

In many B-schools, the mantra for marketing goes something like this:

Do surveys and profile studies to determine what your target customers prefer.

Look at how your competitors are doing it. Better yet, undertake a benchmarking exercise to see what their best practices are.

Conduct focus groups and align your product or service towards their wishes.

Investigate how customers are using your product at their homes, offices, or 3rd places.

Better yet, invite them to become part of your product development team so that everything will ultimately be matched to what their heart desires.

Now tell me, what would come out of such rigorous market research? An exciting, breathtaking, out-of-the-box product or service? Or one that just about fits everybody's needs and wants, but fails to deliver that "Wow" factor?

Don't get me wrong. I believe that there is a time and place to deepen our understanding of customers. Launching a space-age product when your customers prefer good old traditional methods just won't work. You need to know what makes them tick and what catches their fancy.

However, don't be afraid to innovate and create something extraordinary. Many of the world's greatest products or services aren't born from hours and hours of market research. Instead, they are created from the flashes of brilliance by right-brain thinkers who dare to challenge conventions and norms.

To be an architect of the awesome, one needs to occasionally veer off the tried-and-tested path. Sure, you should look at those charts and tables, but do also listen to that inner voice coming from deep within your gut.

Don't just satisfy your customers. Surprise them!

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