Do your clients need a faster horse?

Back in the last century, Henry Ford is famous for saying “You can have any color Ford you want as long as it’s black.”

Today, Ford Motor Company has a different thought process, but that isn’t all that Henry said.

He also said this:

If I’d have asked my customers what they wanted, they would have told me “A faster horse”.

Doing research into customer needs is a necessary thing, just don’t confuse the customer’s stated needs with the problem they’re actually trying to solve.

When a client says they need a faster horse, don’t they really mean “I need to go faster”?

What about your clients?

How much time do you spend studying what your clients *really* need?

  • Isn’t anticipating those needs what market leaders really do?
  • Isn’t it your job to see them before anyone else?

Isn’t it your job to present those new solutions to problems clients didn’t realize they had – until you pointed them out?

One of my favorite local CEOs here in Montana says they deliver their products “just before just-in-time”… isn’t that the job of a market leader?

It takes some thought, in fact, maybe even some study of the problems your clients really have. Not just a questionnaire about the problems of today often caused – paraphrasing what Einstein said – by the thinking of yesterday.

Did any of us realize we needed a Walkman until Sony pointed it out? Or an iPod, until Apple started selling them?

So think about it: Do your clients *really* need a faster horse?

Or is that just a symptom that cloaks the real problem facing them?