29 Jul

Letting your customers lead

The internal hallways of the Illinois Institute of Technology – McCormick Tribune Campus Center are designed around the natural flow of foot traffic by the students.  Before the building existed, Rem Koolhaas and his team observed the students as they crossed through an open field between the dorms and their classrooms.  The resultant layout and hallway sizes were based around how traffic naturally flowed.  Rem designed around the natural movements of his customers, the students.

This idea is very similar to a concept called  A/B testing in which two or more product ideas are presented and the product(s) that are the most popular go to market.  In discussing his bestselling book “The Four Hour Workweek”, author Tim Ferriss mentions that the title was not his first choice, but it tested out extremely well with readers so he went with it.  Steve Jobs was famously known for ignoring the requests of his fan base and focusing more on their past behaviors.  He believed the key was to observe their actions and not their words.

What products do you have that are looked at the most but purchased the least?  Are there things your customers do that conflict with what they say they do?  Instead of asking what a customer might want different, ask specifically what they would buy and how much they would pay.  Another common method with online entrepreneurs is to stage fake product listings at different selling points and then seeing how many people follow through to the sale page.

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