The Power of Problems

"Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning." - Bill Gates

Listen to other people’s problems because problems are often opportunities in disguise – especially the problems of the customers and clients you serve. In every problem there is an expression of a need. Needs can very often be translated into additional products and services for your business.

For example, many of my golf course clients in Florida were asking where on the Internet they could advertise their websites to golfers in the Northeast so they could persuade them to visit their courses in the winter. At the time there were no good options, so I created some by building an Atlantic City Golf portal, a New Jersey Golf portal, and others. This allowed me the opportunity not only to help my clients, but also to sell them ad space on my Northern sites to help them drive traffic back to their sites.

The idea for a golf portal developed further when I talked with one of my neighbors about his attempts to sell his home in a golf development. He was frustrated that no one had even come to look at his home in the several weeks it had been on the market. That prompted me to add a real estate option to all of my golf portals. For a small fee, people in any golf community in Florida could run an ad for their home on my Orlando and Palm Beach Golf portals, as well as several other Florida sites, which would get it in front of 100,000 golfers a month. Best of all, we also ran the ad at no additional charge on all our other city golf sites including all of our sites up North.

As a young man, Ross Perot (one of the richest men in the world) was working for IBM. He noticed that his customers who were buying IBM computers needed help in processing their data. He went to IBM with this idea. They said they weren’t interested, so he started his own business. He eventually sold it for $2.8 billion dollars. He found a need and filled it!

Over the years, the majority of the product or service innovations we have come up with have either been customer suggestions or customer problems. Your business will be no different if you listen carefully.

Your customers’ problems are the keys to your next innovation, product, or service.

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