How hurtful is your product or service offering?

by Himanshu Jhamb on October 5, 2009

hurtAs an entrepreneur, whatever product or service that you sell, it is critical to look at not only how it helps your customers; but also to look at how it might hurt your customers. Most of the offers that exist in the marketplace end up being ordinary and have little value associated with them, because they end up “hurting” customers at places which have serious consequences for them. The “hurt” can be of different types (and depending on what the level is, it hurts the marketability of the product or service) and you want to stay as far away as possible from the one that comes with the serious consequences for your customers.

Here’s a little personal story of mine: I recently bought a new bed frame from one of the discounted retail stores. It was a beautiful wooden (brownish) frame; both my wife and I loved it. While my wife strolled around to the other parts of the store, I walked around the bed inspecting it and marveled to myself how it’d look in the room we were thinking of putting it in. While I was mentally playing taking this beautiful piece of furniture home, I heard my wife call me from the other aisle. As I started walking towards her casually; I felt a sharp pain under my kneecap and immediately sat down. That’s when I noticed that the bed had a protruding part on the corners of it (the corners where the legs would go) which could easily go unnoticed (Hello?) and “hurt” people. Suddenly, the beauty, the wooden frame and the comfort vanished from my mind and all I could remember was the “hurt” that I felt from my little accident with the bed frame and how “dangerous” it could be for people in the house. The product (or service) called “The bed” immediately lost its marketability with me, its customer.

While you are designing your product or service for providing the fantastic help that it’ll provide your customer, be sure you give a thought to how it might “hurt” your customers. While one can argue that it’s impossible to come up with a product/service that is “Perfect” in all aspects and causes no “hurt”, one can surely design it in a way so that the “hurt” is kept to a minimum. Here are a couple of levels of hurt to consider while you think of the design of your offer:
1. Fundamental Hurt – This is what I call the “Deal Breaker”. This is the hurt that will instantly kill any marketability of your product or service. It wouldn’t matter how aesthetically tasteful your product is; it wouldn’t matter how practical it is or how valuable it is. If your product or service hurts a fundamental concern; it will, in all likelihood, not be very marketable. My example, above fits the bill for “fundamental hurt”. The bed, regardless of how comfortable and elegant it was, was dangerous to the fundamental concern of my body. The moment that dawned upon me; the offer was outta-the-door for me.

2. Derivative Hurt – This is something that the customer sees as not impacting his or her core concerns and thus, is open to a cost-benefit analysis of whatever product or service it is that he or she is considering buying. It’s like your offer gets a Second-chance-at-least kind of hurt. This is where most of the “good” products or services fall in. They all “Cost” something (which obviously hurts the customer in a way since it eats into his or her resources) but if the Return is good, the Cost is viewed as more of an investment and the conversation suddenly centralizes around the ROI, and not just the “Hurt”. As an example, offers such as entertainment magazines and Television fall in this category. They provide customers with a sensation called “Relaxation” and “Fun” in return for the money and time they cost the customers.

When you are designing your products and services; look closely for what kind of “Hurt” they might cause your customers… and stay away from the “Fundamental Hurt” as much as possible!

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