Why Product Managers Need To Learn To Love Their Crazy Customers

by drjim on December 20, 2010

Sometimes Your Crazy Customers Are The Most Valuable Ones

Sometimes Your Crazy Customers Are The Most Valuable Ones

Just who are you hoping that will buy your product? Sane, rational people who you’d be more than willing to invite over to your place for dinner? Or perhapsstark raving mad folkswhom you’d probably cross to the other side of the street were you to encounter them in public? I’m guessing that you’d probably pick the sane folks, but maybe you’d be wrong…

What Makes A Customer A “Crazy Customer”?

With a little luck, your product already has a lot of customers. Not all of these customers can be considered to be”crazy customers”. But some of them most defiantly are.

Just what makes a customer a crazy customer can vary from product to product, but the consumer researcher Dr. Andreas Eisingerich has identifiedthe following characteristics that they all seem to share:

 

  • They personally identify with your product and gain some meaning in their life from it.

 

 

  • They are willing to defend your product against attacks that show up in the media or from competitors.

 

 

  • They describe your product as being “part of the family”.

 

 

  • They display extreme behavior in relation to your product (think about waiting in line for days when new models to become available).

 

 

  • They believe that “… buying cheap is expensive” and will continue to buy your product even if it is not the most inexpensive.

 

Why Crazy Customers Are The Ones That You Want To Have

Dr. Eisingerich’s research shows that only about5% of your customers will turn out to be crazy customers. However, this small group of customer is good to have on your side.

First off,they are very loyal to your product. No matter what changes that you make to your product they will be the ones who stick with it. They are also willing to speak up and defend your product when others attack it.

These are also the customerswho have the resourcesneeded to buy your product. More often than not they turn out to be between 30 and 45 years old and make more money then the national average for where they live.

Finally,they are willing to add value to your product. They will convince others to use your product and they will often come up with novel ways to incorporate your product in other parts of their life.

What Do Product Managers Need To Do For Crazy Customers

Sadly, studies show that 82% of product managers have not spent any time thinking about how they can leverage their crazy customers to make their products more successful. In fact, only 8% of product managersare currently targeting these customers. Looks like it’s time for you to get on board.

Let Crazy Customers Own Your Product: Taking the time to set up opportunities for your customers to create communities around your product is a great way to allow your crazy customers to come together and interact. Allowing them to make suggestions and even customize the look & feel of your product can get them to feel as though they are involved in the product creation process

Ask For Input From Your Crazy Customers: Product managers are always looking for suggestions on where to take their products next. Since crazy customers use your product so extensively, they can be a great source of input on what new features you should be considering.

Capture Crazy Customer’s Stories: What can convince more people to buy your product will be the stories of how others use it and what problems it has solved for them. Asking your crazy customers to share their stories with you can provide a rich set of material for communicating with future potential customers.

What All Of This Means For You

Product managers want as many customers for their product as possible. Along with regular customers comethe crazy customers. Product managers have to make a decision here: to ignore the crazy ones or to adjust their marketing efforts to address this group.

Finding ways to meet the needs of your crazy customers can yieldgreat benefits for your product. They can attract new customers and they can provide you with great inputs for new features and marketing stories.

The one thing that you don’t want to do is toignore your crazy customers. You’ve worked hard enough to create a product that has attracted them, now make sure that you find ways to get your crazy customers to share their devotion to your product with others…

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that you could lose control of your product if you let “crazy customers” have too much say in it?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Perhaps just for a moment we can consider the day-to-day activities of any product manageras being engaged in a sort of race. Collectively we are all running and trying to move out in front of the product managers at the firms that our company is competing with. In this type of analogy, the product manager is running out in front of everyone else and is showing the company which way to go. But how does the product manager know where to go?

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