It’s pretty common to have an idea for a product from the moment that you start your website – but that’s not true for everyone.
In fact, many people have no idea at all.
There are lots of ways to figure this out, but people often miss out on how to identify customer needs and use these to guide product decisions.
Using your customers can be a great way figure out how to move forward with your site and products.
After all, realistically you can’t truly know what your audience wants until you actually ask them.
Why Get Ideas from Customers?
Part of niche research is to find out about your specific area and how to address it. People often assume that niche research is how to identify customer needs.
However, there are some limitations to this approach.
Often you find that the specific audience you get to your website isn’t quite the same as you anticipated. You might also find that their wants and needs are a bit different.
One important thing about people is that their needs aren’t immediately obvious.
This means that the most pressing need for a group of people might be something that takes time and effort to discover.
However, if you can figure this out, you have the potential for a significant amount of profit.
Most website owners don’t take the time to find out what their audience actually wants, so this is often a completely untapped market.
Additionally, it is much easier to sell people something that they really need than to try to sell them something that is barely relevant to them.
Three Ways to Identify Customer Needs
So, how do you actually do it?
The most obvious answer is to ask your customers, but this can actually get tricky.
Have you ever been asked what you want? Like for a birthday or something?
Most of the time, you probably won’t have any idea about what answer to give. Even if you do have an answer, it probably won’t be what you really want.
In fact, people often aren’t consciously aware of what they really need or want. Instead, they figure it out when the opportunity jumps out at them or when they are asked in a very specific way.
This means that creating a survey for people to fill out is often very ineffective.
It also ends up being a waste of your time and theirs
1. Listen to Your Readers
One of the most effective ways to work out what your customers need is simply to pay attention to what they have to say.
This involves taking advantage of commenting on websites and possibly even forums.
The idea is that you actively engage with your audience across your site to encourage commenting and interaction. Then you look at what they have to say to gain ideas on what their main needs are.
For example, if you wrote an article on the Paleo diet, you might get people in the comments who are confused about the diet and what it actually involves. This offers an indication that people need more information on the topic.
In terms of products, this might suggest that there is some interest in a beginners book on the Paleo diet.
Alternatively, you might find that many people in the comments section want to follow the diet, but think that it is too difficult or can’t figure out how to fit it into their lives.
This might suggest the creation of a product that helps people to ease into Paleo, or suggests an alternative type of diet that is similar in many aspects but is easier to follow.
2. Look at Interest
A second approach is to pay attention to what posts people are interested in.
You can do this using traffic information, looking at what pages people visit the most often and what pages people stay on the longest.
This provides you with an idea about what topics people are interested in.
Knowing this can give you a general idea of what direction to consider in relation to products.
While the information might not suggest a specific product, knowing where to focus can be a major advantage, particularly if you are working in a field with a lot of different questions.
3. Ask – cleverly
You can actually ask your audience to find out what they are interested in, but the trick is to be careful about how you ask.
You want to be asking your questions in a way that the audience actually knows the answer.
One good approach to this is to ask your audience where they are experiencing problems or what their most significant issue is.
You could do this through an email list or through the comments section.
Both approaches can be effective although people may tell you things via email that they aren’t willing to share with the rest of your audience in the comments section.
Finding out what people struggle with is important because it gives you the chance to start looking for solutions to the problems.
In many cases, a potential solution to the problem will be the development of a product.
Additionally, if you do develop a product to solve a problem that your readers are having, it is a great way to build trust and audience loyalty.
There is an additional advantage to this approach too.
Not every problem people have needs to be solved through products. Many of the problems can be the topic of blog posts.
This means that asking people about this can give you a lot more ideas for your posts.
Because those posts meet the needs of your audience, they are also likely to be popular.
However, there is also a downside to this approach.
Once you ask your audience what their issues are, it’s really important to follow through on these.
You won’t necessarily have a solution to all of the problems, but it’s still important to engage with your audience on these. This could involve developing content on the topic, or it could simply involve trying to provide the individual with directions through comments or emails.
If you don’t’ follow through on the questions that you asked, you can really make your audience feel let down, and this will damage your reputation overall.
Weighing Up Ideas
Whatever method you choose for how to identify customer needs, you will probably end up with more information than you know what to do with.
This means you have to take the time to prioritize the information and to work out what needs are the most prominent and what ones you can actually meet.
After all, there won’t be that much profit in developing a product if only one or two audience members are actually interested in it.
How you go about this will probably depend on how big your site is and what type of product you are looking at creating.
If you are only going to create a single product, then you might want to look for needs that are the most common or have the largest level of passion associated with them.
You could set up a spreadsheet where you look at the number of comments or emails associated with each of the needs that your users identify.
Once you have a general idea of what you want to do, a good idea is to go back to your audience and talk to them about it.
By pitching your idea to them, you are able to get a sense of what they think of it and whether there is enthusiasm.
If there isn’t enough interest in what you are suggesting, it may be time to go back to the drawing board. After all, the specific aim of this process is to create a product that people are excited about.
However, you might find that the comments that people have on your idea is enough to guide you towards a better overall answer.
The good thing about engaging your audience like this is that it can really make them feel like the product you are making is for them.
It also acts as a way of increasing interest and enthusiasm for your final product, which may help sales once it is released.
An interesting (and effective) way of working out the level of interest in your proposed products is to use voting.
This only really works once you have got to the point where you have a few key ideas, but once you do it can be very useful.
For example, you can use voting to work out which product your audience would be more interested in.
Additionally, you can use voting as a way of gauging interest in a product idea.
Turning Ideas into a Product
Once you have ideas from your audience, the next question is what you do with them.
It does take time to take the needs of customers and figure out how to meet them, and it’s important not to rush this process.
Put yourself in the shoes of your audience.
What solutions would be appealing to you? What ones wouldn’t be?
A key aspect of this is making sure that whatever you produce provides value to your audience.
If you end up creating a product that simply seems like a money grab it probably won’t sell that well and it will annoy your audience.
In short, you want to take your time and carefully consider how to best meet your audience’s needs. While profit is something to consider, it shouldn’t be your first consideration.
After all, you won’t make much profit if no one is interested in your product.
One important approach of turning these ideas into a product is to look at what is already out there.
What do other sites in your niche offer?
What can you do differently?
What can you do better?
If you want a successful product, it has to be different from what other people are offering.
Taking the time to work out what your audience wants is well worth the effort even if it is an overlooked approach.
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