Franz Wolfeneck
From Zero to Beyond


From Zero to Beyond

What Motivates Your Customers?

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What Motivates Your Customers?

Franz Wolfeneck's photo
Franz Wolfeneck
·Sep 1, 2022·

3 min read

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To understand the customer's motivation for embracing your product, we must first identify your customers. To that end, we have to answer a few questions.

What are you offering?

Ask, “What are we offering?” Use this as the grounding point to transition from a product focus to a customer focus.

Who is using your product?

Continue by asking, “Who is using our product (or who would use our product once released)?” Most likely, you have a diverse set of customers engaging with your product. The purpose of this question is to reveal all those customers. Focus only on those customers who pursue a functional objective. For example, Hashnode is home to back-end engineers, front-end engineers, (technical) web designers, (technical) product managers, …

What generic term can classify all these customers?

Look for an all-inclusive term that encapsulates all these customers, usually a higher-level, generic term—abstain from vague job titles. For example, one might abstract back-end engineers, front-end engineers, (technical) web designers, and (technical) product managers into developers.

At this point, we have defined the customer. Now, it is time to “get out of the building” and ask the customer a view questions.

What does your product help this group of customers accomplish?

To uncover the underlying customer objective, it is helpful to start by understanding the function that your product serves. Ask your customers, “What does our offering help you accomplish from a functional perspective?” Write out their answer into a single statement using this formula: [customers] + [verb] + [object of the verb] + [contextual clarifier (optional)]. For example, music enthusiasts (customers) listen (verb) to music (object of the verb) while on the go (contextual clarifier).

Two things to note here: (1) The standardized sentence structure is essential to start to establish a shared language (internal and external). (2) There is a chance this statement is not the underlying customer objective. Instead, it is the function that your offering (or idea) performs. Most likely, that is only part of the function the customer is looking for. For example, while people may use a kettle to heat water to the desired temperature, the overall customer objective is to prepare a hot beverage for consumption.

What other products and services does the customer use in conjunction with your offering? What function does each of those serve?

To get a feel for the underlying customer objective, ask customers what other solutions (in-house and external) they employ immediately before, while, and immediately after using your product. Document the function that each of those serves. Use the same formula as above: [customers] + [verb] + [object of the verb] + [contextual clarifier (optional)]. For example, when cooks prepare a meal, they also select recipes, purchase groceries, and wash the dishes.

Taking the customer perspective, what are they ultimately trying to get done?

Putting all the pieces together, ask, “What is the underlying customer objective?” Assume your product offers part of the function. Assume customers are using the other products to complement your product. Use the same formula as above: [customers] + [verb] + [object of the verb] + [contextual clarifier (optional)]. Ensure you encapsulate the function of your product in the abstracted statement. If the function of your product is not represented, you have abstracted the statement to too high a level. For example, we could abstract the home cook example to: Home cooks (customers) + prepare (verb) + a meal (object of verb) + for home consumption (contextual clarifier). Confirm the statement with customers.

Now that we have uncovered your customers' objective, let's outline the steps they take toward there.

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