What to Do When Your Crystal Ball is on the Fritz

Yes - your colleagues probably think you have ESP when it comes to coming up with new products and services.  You know that it's hard work that usually includes hard work on the back end.

Here are a few strategies you can use to expand your product offering in ways that appeal to both your customers and your bottom line.

  1. Data Mining and Customer Analysis.  Although it’s tempting to jump in and try to do anything, take the time to ask your customers what’s important to them and what other alternatives they are considering to solve their problems.  Check out online survey tools like QuestionPro , Survey Analytics, Survey Swipe or IdeaScale.

  2. Add new products.  Consider the possibility your customers want something else. Do your research and check your profit margins before you expand your product lines.

  3. Find new markets.  This is a favorite strategy.  Look for emerging markets that have a need for your product or capability.  Open your mind and ask “what if” or “in what ways” questions to see how to penetrate more profitable markets.

  4. Try different distribution channels.  Distribution means being within arm’s reach of your customer and their wallet.  Think of the different ways you can do that; email, direct marketing, catalog, direct sales, kiosk, manufacturers rep.  The possibilities are endless.

  5. Direct marketing to target customers.  Three-dimensional, snail mail marketing is still extremely effective.  Select a target group of customers and send them special offers.  Use email marketing tools like Constant Contact to develop segmented mailing lists.