In this fast-paced and competitive world, we don’t always have the luxury of time. If you are manufacturing a product, you want it to be first to market and at the same time be able to meet customer demand. In any scenario, you will be far more successful if you can anticipate response. Below I’ve included some of the best ways to predict and manage customer interest.
Study where you stand. Is there acceptance of your product in the market? Are you creating a market or disrupting the market? If you are in the enterprise, does Gartner have your product categorized into one of its Magic Quadrants? If the answer is no, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, but it does mean that you are creating a new market and you will have to invest your energies and resources in explaining what you are doing. Fifteen years ago Marc Benioff had to explain his “No Software” vision. Today, everyone understands the cloud and he is selling his services for their unique capabilities.
Engage in trend spotting. Look at macro trends. For example, is it a good shopping year or a bad year? Look at patterns you’ve seen before. Everyone knows that Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days of year, but when I was at eBay we worked hard to extend the shopping season with things like 1-day shipping to expand our impact.
Understand seasonal and time-based demands. Last week, San Francisco Giants t-shirts were a big seller, less so this week and by next week we’ll see that plateau. There are some products that largely build demand over time, but most are affected by some sort of market forces. Know what they are.
Data is your friend. We are in an age where we have more data and analytics than ever. Get all inventory management and supply chain information interconnected so you can be more responsive and dial supply up and down.
Figure out who would buy your product or service. Remember, this doesn’t always mean the person who will use it. Every kid knows what toy he or she wants, but it’s parents who hold the purse strings and are the ones who have to approve. Determine who is funding the purchase of your product and make sure you appeal to them too. Strive to make everyone happy.
Listen to the market. We built Everwise, a company that’s dedicated to reinventing mentoring in the workplace and social sector, for the employee who was looking for help in his or her career. That was our focus. But soon, other customers — ones we never could have predicted — showed interest in our service. Nonprofits wanted to use it and a soccer league found a use for it in matching coaches to mentors in order to better serve their kids. Sometimes the market shows you a demand you never anticipated.