Hey Customer: Would You Like Some Time With That Product?

by drjim on January 27, 2010

Don’t Mickey Mouse Around With Your Customer’s Time

Don’t Mickey Mouse Around With Your Customer’s Time

Quick: what’s the most valuable item in the world? Gold? Diamonds? Nope, it turns out that the thing that most of us would gladly give our left arm for more of is: time. Now since I can see that you are nodding your head in agreement with this, I’ve got a question for you. Why aren’t you selling time along with your product?

Don’t Worry, Nobody’s Doing It

Study after study of both consumers and businesses have shown that both share our view that time is the most valuable of resources. Nobody has enough of the stuff. Customers have stated over and over again that they would probably buy any product that could save them time. Hmm, sure seems like a great way for a product manager to make their product (more) successful…

The real tragedy here is that so few of us seem to be listening to our customers on this subject. You don’t have to be able to read your customer’s mind to see that there is a real need here. A study performed by Paul Nunes and company has revealed that only 5% of customers believe that the companies that they do business with and the products that they buy respect their limited time.

How NOT To Try To Sell More Time

All too often when Product Managers discover that their customers are looking for ways to gain more time, they try for the quick & dirty solution. These are the types of solutions that allow the product manager to make statements like “now takes only half the time that it used to”. This no longer cuts it with your customers.

One of a product manager’s biggest problems is that your customer’s world keeps on moving faster and faster. This means that just because you find a way to reduce the amount of time that it takes to use your product, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s really going to have any value to your customers. I mean really, doesn’t the concept of having your photos printed and ready for you in 24 hours seem like it still takes too long?

The Correct Way To Sell More Time With Your Product

If you want to add “more time” to the list of items that you are offering to sell to your customers, then there are four things that you need to start doing. None of these approaches to making your product more valuable are all that earth shattering, but if they buy your customer more time, then you should see sales of your product shoot up:

  1. Multitasking: how much attention to your product is required by your customer when they are using it? Although we all know that trying to multitask in our daily lives is a bad thing, it turns out that customers will flock to any product that allows them to do more than one thing simultaneously. This is one reason why desktop search tools that run in the background silently indexing your hard drive are so popular – buy, install, run, and then forget. Customers love that.
  2. Get It Faster: how long do your customers have to wait from when they buy your product before it is in their hands and ready to use? If you are selling a software product that requires a significant installation project to get it up and running, would it be possible to allow your customer to start to use some functionality before the entire system was up and running? This would go a long way in reducing the perceived time between purchase and use.
  3. Fear Of Commitment: are customers avoiding your product because they believe that it’s just going to require too much of their time to use? If so, you’ve got a challenge on your hands. What can you do to convince them that either they’re wrong – the time commitment is not that large, or that they really do have the time? You see this type of product positioning with exercise equipment ads all the time – you can get flat abs in just 10 minutes a day!
  4. No More Waiting: how hard is it to purchase your product? Do you make your customers go through a lengthy RFP process and then have to sit through multiple product configuration meetings once you’ve been selected? Why not take a look at what you’ve actually been selling and pick the three most popular configurations and offer those as a pre-packaged product with the option to further customize?

What All Of This Means For You

As product managers we are always under pressure to make our products more popular. The levers that we have to pull in order to make this happen include things like lowering the price and increasing the features. However, maybe we’ve been overlooking the one thing that our customers are most desperately looking for: more time in their lives.

If we can find a way to allow our products to help our customers get more control over the time in their lives, then we’ll have created a unique selling proposition for our product. We can do this by allowing our customers to better multitask by using our product, do things faster, reduce the commitment that the product requires, or even by getting rid of waiting for the product.

Time is a universal desire – everybody wants it and they are always going to want more of it. As a product manager, if you can figure out how your product can provide your customers with more time, then you will have found your secret to product success.

Do you think that your customers would be more willing to buy your product if it provided them with more time?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Welcome to the world of the 21st Century – there seems to be a new competitor who is trying to win the attention of your customers every day. What’s a product manager to do?  Maybe the answer lies in what your existing customers are saying about your product…

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Travis Jensen February 9, 2010 at 2:40 pm

This is a great article and well worth thinking about. I’ll be including it in my From the Intrawebs series: http://softwaremaven.innerbrane.com/search/label/From%20the%20Intrawebs

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