As Eric Ries suggests in “The Lean Startup”, startups are a hypothesis that involve testing an idea to see if it resonates.
Using this approach, startups create a product they think will fill a need or make a customer’s life better, easier or more convenient. After the product is launched, they attempt to sell it. Sometimes, the sales pour in; sometimes, they don’t, which forces startups to pivot (which has become a sexy term these days as if it’s a positive thing).
What many startups are missing within the product development/sales process is in-depth details about their target audiences. In many respects, this explains why startups flounder even though they believe their product has a lot of potential.
The big problem is startups don’t have enough information or details about the target audiences they’ve identified. Instead, they’re guessing about what their customers want and/or they don’t have enough real-world data to really know and understand their potential customers. In other words, they are operating within an information void.
Now, you would think startups should know a lot about their potential customers, otherwise they’re working with blinkers on.
A good example of getting to know target audience is a former client that, while executing a startup, physically visited dozens of retailers to understand their needs and the thing about the proposed product that resonates with them. This exercise gave them excellent feedback and guidance, and the confidence to move ahead with a refreshed product with better prospects.
The simple lesson for startups is the need to know and understand the customers they’re targeting. Sure, it can take time and involve a lot of legwork but it’s an important pillar in establishing a foundation for success.