Whether simply beginning to map out long-term product or technology roadmaps, examining areas of exploration or innovation, analyzing channel strategy or simply wanting more from existing customers, every company would be well served by asking
What are my customers really buying?
The first big mistake most companies make is believing their customers are buying a thing—a specific product or service. Meaning, your basic widget manufacturer thinks they are satisfying a consumer’s desire to own a widget. That frame of mind works well enough in most cases. You can survey the market fairly efficiently and determine the total current market for widgets. You can do a bit of google searching and know how many other widget manufacturers are out there. And finally, you can do a bit of math and quickly determine getting more or less of your reasonably fair share of the market. The problem with that perspective is that it tends to limit the range of growth ideas to those defined by their widgetness. Better widgets. Bigger widgets. Cheaper widgets.