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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

Why you should focus on success gaps

By focusing on your customers’ real needs, you’ll build outstanding products and deliver services that give you an edge.

Why you should focus on success gaps
[Photo Source: Freedomz/Adobe Stock]
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How do you determine whether your product is helping your customer achieve their goal?

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I asked this question of my team, and at first, the answer was that when our customers use our product for its intended purpose, then we’ve helped them meet their goals.

However, this isn’t an accurate answer.

For example, when a customer uses our form tool to create a contact form, we’ve enabled them to do something: create a communication channel between themselves and their audience.

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But if we take a step back and think about why customers want to build a contact form, use an analytics tool, or use any of our products, it’s actually because they want to make their own business a success. Our products just support their real journey.

The difference between the immediate goal your product meets and the larger goal your customer has is a success gap.

WHY SUCCESS GAPS MATTER

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Let’s say you’re the owner of a business that makes a nutritional supplement. A lower-level need that your product meets is providing the nutrients your customer needs along with a limited number of calories.

But while your product may help your customer meet their nutritional goals, what do they really care about? It could be that your customer wants to be healthy to support and care for their family, or maybe they want to gain confidence.

When you understand the main motive driving your customer, it changes almost everything you do in your business. Your product development, customer service, content creation, and everything else starts to center around your customer’s larger goal.

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In my own business, we used this approach to transform a simple form tool into a top-10 WordPress plug-in. And this is in a situation where there are already great tools in the market available for free.

So, now that we’ve looked at what a success gap is and why it matters, what do you do next? Here are steps you can take to use success gaps to drive your business forward.

START WITH YOUR RESEARCH

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Although you think you know what your audience wants, it’s important to get information from the source. Try the following:

• Add an analytics tool to your website to understand how people behave on your site, which pages people visit most, and what keywords people use to find you.

• Use an SEO tool to do topic research on your area of work. You’ll learn about the questions people are asking, who your competitors are, and what people are searching for.

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• Reach out to your existing customers with surveys and feedback forms. Create a conversation, and invite people to tell you what their pain points are and the kind of help they need.

With data gathered from these initial efforts, you’ll have a solid information base that you can refer to when you need it. And you’ll be able to track shifting customer trends over time.

DRAW COMPARISONS BETWEEN YOUR CURRENT WORK AND A CUSTOMER’S FINAL GOAL

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Now, sit down and look at whether your product and marketing align with the customer’s overarching goal. It’s also important to involve your team, especially those who interact with customers, to brainstorm on success gaps.

You’ll get interesting ideas for new product features that could change how you create content. Thinking about success gaps can help your customer support and sales staff market your product better. And you’ll find it easier to build a community based on values that matter to your audience and your own business.

KEEP TESTING AND LEARNING

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Over time, you’ll need to keep doing checks to make sure that your new efforts are still headed in the right direction. When making changes, use split tests with smaller groups to see what works.

Keep an eye on how people respond to new features through the ratings and reviews they leave. And of course, ask for direct feedback.

Through constant monitoring, you can make improvements and meet your customers’ real needs.

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THE BOTTOM LINE

To stand out from your competition, you need to think at a different level altogether. Look beyond the functionalities of your products and the immediate outcomes they create. Instead, try to understand the deeper goals that motivate your customers.

By focusing on your customers’ real needs, you’ll build outstanding products and deliver services that give you an edge. By helping your customers, you end up helping your business too.

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Syed Balkhi is the founder of WPBeginner, the largest free WordPress resource site. Over 15 million website owners use our software to build better websites.