Focus on Solving Real Problems: A Dog Food Story

Several decades ago, a dog food company held an internal sales conference. First, the advertising director presented an exciting new media campaign. Then, the director of marketing explained his new go-to-customer strategy that would “change the industry.” Finally, the sales director got up and excitedly talked about how their sales team was the best in the business.

The President listened patiently through all of these presentations. At the end, he got up and said. “Look, I only have one question. If everything we do is so great – our sales, marketing, advertising – then why do we sell less dog food than everyone else in the industry?

The room went silent. No one knew what to say. Finally, someone offered a thought: Maybe it’s because the dogs HATE our product.

The point of the story is that it’s important to focus on the real problems. We often get distracted by stuff that doesn’t really matter. In this case, the company had been focusing on sales, marketing, and advertising. While those are important areas, they should have spent more of their time discovering, defining, and addressing the real problem: a lousy product.

So how do you solve a real problem? How do you create a product that people actually want to buy?

It’s a good question. There’s no secret sauce or magic recipe that guarantees success. But there is one concept that will 100% steer you in the right direction.

It’s simple: make something you’d buy yourself

Sounds obvious? It is! And it makes sense: if you are looking for something to buy, chances are there are others who want to buy it as well.

If you are creating dog food, take a moment to think about whether your dog would actually eat it. If not, you should rework your product. End of story.

This applies to any product. Whenever you create something new, ask yourself one question:

“Would you (or someone who know) actually use this?”

If the answer is no, then think about what you can do differently to turn that “no” into a “yes.”

Be honest with yourself. After all, you don’t want to waste your time and money on something that is doomed to fail.

Over the last few months, I’ve actually been hard at work at developing/expanding some of my own products. I’m not quite ready to share all the details, but needless to say, I’ve been doing a ton of research on what it takes to create a kicka$$ product that will make me lots of money. Here are some of the best writeups I’ve stumbled on:

The No Fail Approach To Product Creation. Pat Flynn over at Smart Passive Income always an amazing job, and this post is no exception. Pat lives by a simple rule – don't create anything you wouldn't use yourself – and it has served him well.

7 Things You Must To Do Make Your Product Launch Easier – Dave Navarro at the Launch Coach has a whole ton of articles on how to conceptualize and market an outstanding product. This is easily one of the best, definitely a must-read.

Don't Just Roll The Dice: This is actually a free e-book about how to set the right price for your product. Very well written, and a good read for anyone who wants to launch something new.

What are some products that you think would solve a real problem?

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