Primacy of the Unmet Need

On August 13, 2020, in Business, by John Tree

The unmet need… This is the key foundation of almost any successful product. This thought process should happen BEFORE any Entrepreneur or major Corporation starts to bring a product to the market, or starts offering a service. For the Entrepreneur, you must determine what need is not being met, or if there is a gap in satisfaction in the product, good, or service that is currently being offered in the marketplace. Once you do that, you must then keep this idea in the forefront of all your planning throughout the remainder of your business journey.

The primacy of the unmet need is the polar opposite of the mantra: “If we build it, they will come!” — a mantra that is a relic of the old industrial age. This old mantra suggested that by merely building it, you would be able to sell it. Perhaps Henry Ford himself contributed to this line of thinking by churning out Model-T Fords as fast as his new company could build them. In fact, he famously stated that “You can have any color car you want, as long as it’s black!” That mantra worked back in the industrial age, but it no longer applies today. The sad reality is that anyone who develops and launches a product into the marketplace today using this old mantra is essentially doomed to fail.

And therein lies the problem: so many Entrepreneurs fall in love with their own idea, and they naively believe that if they just get their idea to the market, then it will sell. Well as you might suppose, this just isn’t the case. You must determine what need is not getting met, and what problem exists that is waiting to be solved. And specifically, you need to do this for the target market that you plan to sell your product to. It doesn’t matter what your Mom thinks of your idea if you’re planning on selling your product to teenagers. That may seem obvious when you’re reading this, but many Entrepreneurs ignore this point, and base their decisions on what Mom or someone else thinks of their idea, even when their idea has nothing to do with Mom or that other person.

So again, what problem is your product, good, or service addressing and solving for your target customer? Are you making their life better? Does your product do something for them that no else can do? If you cannot answer these basic questions, then you need to stop what you’re doing, and spend some time getting this right. The whole idea of meeting an unmet need and solving a problem for your target customer is THE best practice from the most successful companies in the world. It is the definitive way to bring new products to the market, and to manage existing products in the marketplace. Ignoring this way of developing and launching products is just foolish.

That’s because if you don’t get this part right, at the very beginning, it won’t really matter what all the other things are that you do well after this point. Your product will most likely end up in the junkyard where all great products go that are not meeting any unmet needs, or solving any problems for the right customers.

There are certainly more steps than these, of course, but failing to address these critical items up front will decrease the odds of your success by a dramatic margin.

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