When someone asks me about their business idea, I ask about the product, the customer, and the connection between the two.
First, is the product or service a ‘wow?’ Is it special enough for people to buy rather than spend their money elsewhere? In the case of our first publication, The Portable Paper, each page communicated practical knowledge and enthusiasm from HP Portable users worldwide.
If you want to start a business, most likely you have a product idea that excites you and that you would like to have.
Reaching others who share that enthusiasm for your unique and well-done product will make your business work.
Second, who are the customers, and why will they buy? We knew HP Portable users were educated, geeky, male, middle-aged, financially comfortable professionals with a thirst for knowledge about their new, state-of-the-art laptop.
Many beginning entrepreneurs imagine a much bigger audience then makes sense at the beginning. “Anyone would benefit from my exercise machine, my healthy dessert, or my clothing shop.”
It has been said, “the riches are in the niches.” Rather than looking at everyone as a potential customer, it makes much more sense to find your best customer. Who would be the easy sale? For whom would it be a no-brainer to buy your product? Many experts suggest marketing specifically to an “avatar,” one ideal customer (e.g. 33, female, single, makes $55K per year, health-conscious, gym-member, extrovert, likes smartphone, texts a lot, on Facebook, Chicagoan, etc).
Connecting Product and Customer
Third, can you reach your best potential customers cost-effectively? The connection between your product and the customer is the magic, the spark that makes business work.
We used HP registration cards, an in-box free issue offer, and later the Internet and newsstand to reach our potential magazine customers.
Where can your customer be found? How can you communicate with them there (e.g. at a gym, at certain websites, texting, Facebook, etc)? Finding the means to get to your customer determines the success or failure of your business.
The more unified and effortless the connection between product, customer, and their connection, the more successful you will be.