Develop Value in Products

I was involved over a period of several months with a major consulting firm to develop Value Equivalence Line charts for all of our products.  The company I was at spent well over six figures for these consultants to research what we already knew about our products and markets then present that data in an easy-to-understand format, the VEL. Value Equivalence Line charts show price on the X-axis of the chart with some form of value on the Y-axis.  There are a number of key lessons you can quickly learn about your products and markets from the VEL: a straight … Read more

Stopping Product Line Confusion

When a private equity group integrated several trailer companies their new leadership was faced with multiple product lines and extensive confusion.  Specifications, features, options, and pricing were presented in wildly different ways that made comparison time consuming and expensive.  They reached out to AditNW for help. A database was the obvious solution but would require hundreds of hours in time to enter the data and get it right.  This is always the most expensive step in implementing any data solution and demands too much time of your best people.  AditNW, though, could offer a more intelligent solution. By deeply understanding … Read more

Your Customer’s Business Model

In B2B markets buying decisions are exclusively made based on value to the business.  The actual process may be tinted with the emotions, bravado, and irrationality of consumer life style markets but, at the end of the day, the buy is based on what value your product or service brings to my business.  To be successful in this environment, you must understand your customer’s business model. Equipment sales can be driven by a number of dynamics including dealer networks, retail sales, online sales, and more.  The majority of construction equipment, large tools, and similar products is through rental.  Companies that … Read more

bag of chips

Bag of Chips (part 3 of 3)

  I have nothing to say today (The visit) The first thing to do in order to better understand your customer is to stop talking.  I find this very hard to do.  I love to talk (and talk and talk).  While in high school and traveling home for 5 hours in a bus from a church group sitting by a girl who, I was convinced, was the most amazing creature alive, we had a lively discussion and I loved it.  She agreed to go out with me at the end.  Why?  Because she had never been with someone who could … Read more

bag of chips

Bag of Chips (part 2 of 3)

  I Want It All, For Free (Questions) Over the years there have a been a steady stream of ‘proven systems’ for understanding customer needs. In most cases they attempt to format every question so that it produces numerical, weighted answers.  These answers are then added, multiplied, and weighted some more to produce composite weighted nonsense. There is a better way. There are essentially three kinds of questions and they relate very closely to the three kinds of surveys discussed in the previous section.  Each question is asked differently, the data is collected differently, and the results are collated differently. Question … Read more

bag of chips

Bag of Chips (part 1 of 3)

This article was written in 2006 as an essay for product managers at Genie.  Although originally titled Conducting Customer Surveys, due to a formatting error, it took on the title of the first section, A Bag of Chips.  It continues to be timeless in its application, philosophy and approach to understanding customer wants, needs, and market opportunity. A Bag of Chips (Introduction) I decided I needed to, as the new Engineering Team Leader, to get a feel for our customers.  I was new to the company, the market, the team, and our dealers.  For reasons which completely escape me now, … Read more