5 Overlooked Observations that’ll Improve Your Product

5 Overlooked Observations that’ll Improve Your Product

Don’t overlook these 5 observations that’ll improve your product. Cars were being rented – 230,000 users! Many companies would celebrate the success. Orix, a Japanese car-sharing service, however, discovered some oddities in the mileage reports. They found that a high-percentage of vehicles were being returned as having traveled zero distance.

Costing less than $4 to borrow a car for 30 minutes, Orix discovered customers weren’t actually using the cars for driving. Renters were using them as a quiet place to watch TV, eat lunch, get dressed up for Halloween, or even practice their rap verses.

The way we think people use our products compared to how they are actually used in the real world can be shocking. It’s important for everyone in your company from sales to marketing to engineering to get out from behind their desk and get in the trenches to understand how customers use your product. It’s these valuable insights that develop, evolve and improve your product offering.

Things you might discover in the trenches:

In 2005, Apple launched the MacMini. While it started as an easy way to port PC data for new Mac users, people started connecting a MacMini to their televisions to watch movies or listen to music in the living room, or to have the real estate of a larger monitor.

Apple observed these trends, and in 2006, they added an HDMI port to the MacMini to make it easier to connect televisions. These early adopters created their own rudimentary device that would later become known as Apple TV.

While there are lots of Analytics and digital tools you can use to monitor customer behavior, it’s important to pop out from the cubicle or data stream. Talk to customers and get a hands-on feel for how your product truly performs in the real world. As this article points out, “changing the checkout button in an e-commerce website to appear white on a white background will not be caught by any automated test. But it still will drive revenue to zero.”

5 Ways to Discover How Your Product is Really Used

Aggregate customer service calls.

Don’t answer the phone, briskly answer questions and forget about them. Even with limited resources, you should keep an Excel spreadsheet of common customer problems or FAQs. 96% of customers don’t complain, so simply going by memory, that 2-4% could be an easily forgettable radar blip. Implement a way to observe trends, because there could be a flood of disappointed customers that simply decided to no longer do business with you.

Get outside.

Where are the people that are using your product? Have an idea for a stroller accessory? Keep an eye on how people rig up strollers when walking the park. If your product benefits runners, go spectate your city’s marathon or 10K. Seeing how people subconsciously interact with your product can yield powerful intel.

Polls or Surveys.

Unless you have a very specific question in mind, improperly administered polls can yield skewed results. In the example of the Japanese rental cars, asking “on a scale of 1-10,  did you enjoy using this service?” might not provide actionable information. If I had a nice nap in the car, I’d give the experience a “10” and move on without giving any hint that I never actually drove it. Without knowing more about what you are looking for, surveys can mislead actions.

Pay attention to social media.

With so many photos and videos curated to perfection, the experience portrayed on social media might not be a truly realistic representation. With so many examples of people not even doing what they were pictured doing, it’s easy to get an unrealistic portrayal. Another mistake made when mining customer-use data from social media, is that companies are prone to paying closer attention to accounts with big followings or videos with the most views. While these can be helpful, find videos with 50, 5…even 1 view, to get a full picture.

Keep using your product!

I’ve met with many top executives that haven’t ever used any of the company’s key offerings. Constantly try it for yourself, under different conditions, over-time, etc. If feasible, make sure your entire team does the same.

As a small business, it’s not necessary to hire a pricey firm or commission an expensive focus group, but getting as close to you can to physically observing your product in-use can be the key to long-term success. The best way to lose sight of success is to think you know everything – so position yourself as a lifelong learner of your product experience.

To keep learning, visit SMEI’s online learning center.

Photo credit: MarekPhotoDesign.com for Adobe Stock

Larissa Lewis is the founder of Jargon Gist, working with engineers and other tech-laden businesses to shorten and sharpen their marketing messaging to better attract and connect with customers. Her ability to marry technical content with customer-attracting strategy combats the oft-held belief that marketing is “the stuff of fluff,” and propels a refreshed interest in jargon-laden products and services by explaining them in powerful ways that people understand and love.

Personal Branding: How to Craft and Harness your Personal Brand to Attract the Right Opportunities

Personal Branding: How to Craft and Harness your Personal Brand to Attract the Right Opportunities

A personal brand is a powerful tool to attract business opportunities to you and position yourself or your organization as a leader in the industry. All too often, business professionals start thinking about their personal brand when they need something – new clients, a new job or a favor. Smart business professionals are proactively building and growing their personal brand to attract the opportunities that they want in their career.

Over 13 years ago I started thinking about my personal brand. Not because I was forward thinking, but because I had a Myspace Page (yes, that long ago) and started getting friend requests from industry professional contacts. While I didn’t mind sharing my personal side, I also felt it was important to have a professional presence. This was before LinkedIn, so I created a blog and started to share what I was doing with social media marketing. I quickly became a recognized thought leader and generated clients, job offers (that I didn’t even think I was qualified for), and other opportunities.

Since then, I’ve become even more proactive about my personal brand and have a deliberate presence online and in-person. My efforts in personal branding have resulted in two book deals (a Dummies book and a textbook), media appearances on CNN, NYT, and the Wall Street Journal, job offers, speaking gigs, and clients. I’ve continuously been amazed by the opportunities that my personal brand attracted. I wanted to help others have the same success, and for the last five years I’ve been working on Launch Yourself! Define, Design, and Deliver a Powerful Personal Brand, my 6th book!

Many people think that online personal branding is about a good LinkedIn profile, or a big network. But in reality a strong personal brand is about crafting and delivering a consistent and memorable impression. There are three vital steps to do this: Define, Design and Deliver.

Step 1: Defining Your Personal Brand

Before you even start building a presence, think about your goals and objectives for your personal brand. What do you want from it? Who do you need to reach? Then think about yourself – what are your strengths and opportunities in the industry that you can feature. How do you benefit the people that you work with? At the end of this you should have a clear idea of your personal brand statement that summarizes your goal, your professional description, your personality, your professional solution, and the benefit that you provide.

Step 2: Designing Your Personal Brand

Designing your brand is where you start to think strategically about the elements of yourself that you want to highlight. The biggest brands in the world like Apple, Starbucks, and Tide use specific elements to design their brands so that people choose them. These same principles can be used to design a personal brand. Your personal brand should be Memorable, Authentic, Distinctive, and Credible. You’ll want to bring your brand to life as consistently as possible, so doing some work upfront to design your brand is vital to your execution.

Step 3: Deliver Your Personal Brand

Finally, deliver a powerful personal brand by bringing your brand to life online and in-person. In-person focus on being consistent and refining your brand over time based on feedback. Online, LinkedIn is a powerful channel to start with by increasing your activity there. In addition, a personal website sets the stage for your online presence, and using less formal channels like Facebook or Instagram strategically can further increase your presence.

To learn more about Personal Branding check out our Personal Branding Webinar taking place on August 22, 2019.

Photo by Jia Ye on Unsplash

Richard Pearce, CME to be installed to SMEI Board of Directors

Richard Pearce, CME to be installed to SMEI Board of Directors

Business News from Sales & Marketing Executives International www.smei.org

(New York, NY) – (08/07/2019; 09:00 EDT) – Along with 14 directors for 2019-2020, Richard Pearce, Director of Marketing, Carter Automotive Group, will be installed as a director on the board of Sales & Marketing Executives International, Inc (SMEI).  The installation of the international board of directors will take place in Las Vegas, NV on September 15, 2019.

Along with fellow directors, Mr. Pearce will participate in the promotion of SMEI’s Five Founding Principles™ and focus on the strategic development of the association’s mission and vision.

“Richard Pearce’s alignment with SMEI’s principles has been evident in his exemplary leadership as a sales and marketing management professional,” stated Willis Turner, CAE, CME, CSE, President & CEO.  He continued “We are truly grateful for his desire to serve in this capacity on the international board.”

Richard Pearce, CME is an accomplished Senior Marketing Professional with over 20 years of international experience, both – agency and client side, and is a UBC – Sauder School of Business graduate.

About Sales & Marketing Executives International, Inc.

Sales & Marketing Executives International (SMEI) is the sales and marketing communities’ worldwide professional association dedicated to Five Founding Principles™: Ethical standards; Continuing professional development; Knowledge sharing; Mentoring students; and Advancing free enterprise.

SMEI’s Mission:
We inspire sales and marketing professionals to attain their highest level of competence by setting a global standard of professional credibility enhanced by relevant knowledge sharing and mutually rewarding peer connections.

SMEI’s Vision:

To be a globally recognized association of sales and marketing professionals whose mandate it is to certify professionals and support them continuously throughout their professional development with educational resources and network access.

For more information, visit www.smei.org.