What Do Customers Really Want?

We Want Bags of Cash, Right?

My buddy Shawn, of WP101 fame, likes to tell a story about what customers really want. It starts with this idea that you're interviewing someone about what they want, and they say they want bags of cash. Don't we all? But if you push in further, and ask what they'd do with that cash, you start to figure out what they really want.

I think if I say, “tell me what you want, what you really, really want,” some of you will hear it sung in your head and others won't have a clue what I'm referencing. I'm ok with that.

Shawn reminds me all the time, “People don't want bags of cash. They want what they can buy with bags of cash.”

We're Missing The Point of the Bridge

If you've ever heard me share my Bridge Framework, you know that I tell you that people don't want the bridge. They want to get where the bridge takes them.

In that framework, the product we're building and selling is the bridge. And most of the time we default to selling the bridge. We talk about it, about how we built it and all its features. But we're missing the point that the bridge isn't their destination.

(If you haven't heard me talk about my bridge framework, this makes more sense when you watch that linked video above.)

What Customers Really Want

When you build products, getting clear on what customer really want is essential. We often put a lot of stuff in their way without thinking about it.

Consider the WordPress plugin ecosystem.

Most themes and plugins come with extensive setting options. Many of these options are required to be configured before you can benefit from the utility of the product.

But people didn't buy your product to spend time in the settings menu. And often it's the friction that makes everything harder.

At LearnDash, which I started leading in October of last year, we've spent a lot of time talking about friction.

What customers really want is the elimination of friction. They just don't always articulate it that way. Instead you hear it in other ways…

“How can I get started quickly?”

“What do I have to do to launch my course?”

“What do all these settings mean?”

Once you look at your product using the bridge framework, you realize they're buying your product to help them get somewhere else – the launched course.

And once you think about friction, you realize that your settings can be the friction in the way to their destination.

Friction Elimination

The conversation I had with Jack started simply.

“If a customer already had all their videos for their lessons already in a playlist on YouTube, why should they have to do anything other than give us that link to create a course?”

“That's really all we'd need to create the course, import each video, create a lesson for each, and pre-set a bunch of settings.”

“We should do that. It would eliminate a ton of friction.”

“We're on it.”

Yesterday I got to see the demo of it working.

Another conversation we had sounded like this.

“A customer knows, before they start using our plugin, what kind of courses they're creating, right? So if we asked them about it, couldn't we pre-load the add-ons they would need without them having to figure things out?”

Yes, we're already working on that. It's in our new onboarding wizard in our 4.0 release.”

In both cases, the drivers around these initiatives is the same: friction elimination.

Because no one buys the plugin to work on settings or to choose add-ons. They buy the plugin to help them launch an online course.

That's what they want, what they really, really want.

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