All inventions and products – from the wheel to selfie-sticks – are designed to solve a pain point. There wouldn’t be the need of inventing something if there wasn’t a problem to begin with – and good thing too; if early homo sapiens had no need for fire, we wouldn’t be where we are today.
Inventions, and the products that follow, make things easier. A product only has value when it helps the customer – if it creates no change (or, even worse, negative change), the product is useless. The only way to ensure a product is truly useful for customers is for that product to solve a pain point they face – whether in their daily, weekly, monthly, or sometimes, even yearly lives.
A pain point is difficult to identify, and requires discerning the true nature and scope of the problem consumers are facing. Pain points may present themselves in a few different ways:
- By being confronted with the pain point in your own life
- Your own ideation
- Exploratory market research
Each of these three come with their own methods for finding a pain point – let’s go over them:
This is the most common form of pain point discovery – after confronting a pain point in your life enough times, you’ll either come up with your own solution, or find someone who can help to provide the solution. Everyone may be a unique individual, but we all share struggles throughout our day; chances are, if you’re facing a personal pain point, other people are as well.
This method of pain point identification is the most straightforward in addition to being the most common – usually, the solution will present itself to you in a moment of clarity – many dreamed of stronger backs, but someone creative enough dreamed of the wheel.
Often, there is little-to-no need to explain the solution to customers when your pain point’s genesis is one such as this; merely introducing users to your product or idea will be enough to generate conversions.
Your idea needn’t be nascent either – your pain point might stem from another company’s product. If you are able to provide a simpler or more effective solution to the pain point than the original product, your product has a very good chance of success. This is for a few reasons: there is an already proven need, the market is already identified, and product expectations have already been set.
With the introduction of even just a slightly more efficient experience, your product can grab hold of a significant portion of the market, in the same manner as Lyft did with Uber.
Create a need
Pain point creation is a topic that could easily fill a book. The idea of creating a pain point is the direct opposite of the previous method – rather than being presented with a pain point and then solving it after experiencing it, it revolves around making a product that simultaneously creates and solves a pain point.
Sound complicated? The theory is complex, but the implementation of this method creates the most common form of product on the market – those we don’t need. Perhaps the most proliferate example of such a product are collectibles in competitive gaming:
Don’t have a pink cowboy hat? Well, now your space marine can – for just $1.99!M
Or, to bring it out of the digital realm:
Regardless, creating a pain point takes a lot of market research, which is exactly what we’re going over next.
Find a community
This is always made easier if your market research is looking into an already existing market – think Coke vs. Pepsi, or Windows vs. Mac. If you’re searching for an untapped market, however, this process can become much more complicated.
There’s often a need to find a new community to market to when you offer a service in an over-saturated market, and are looking for a new growth opportunity, or searching for a concrete customer base.
For example, there are plenty of custom carpentry shops – some specialize in cabinets, others in furniture, and others in flooring – but all of these markets are awash with carpentry companies competing for customers.
Carpentry companies like Wyrmwood (a company that makes wooden table-top gaming accessories for games like Dungeons & Dragons) however, can utilize many of the same carpentry skills while catering to an untapped market – meaning their re-tooling and operational costs hardly change, and their potential profit grows exponentially.
This isn’t to say that the people at Wyrmwood don’t enjoy D&D – it’s that they were smart enough to see a need, and fill the void in that particular market.
The most sure method of finding a community with a need is to search for one that is engaged. It helps to find a community that is obscure enough to not have a competitive market as well, but that isn’t always a possibility.
When you find a community that is truly engaged, go to important events based around that community, visit the online homes of the community, and engage with it yourself. After engaging with members of this newfound community, you’ll have either found a pain point through your research, or experienced the pain point yourself.
Your community needn’t be close knit either – entire demographics can fill the same role. For one of our client’s apps, this was the method of pain point discovery; Lauren Bell’s Whystle found that families (and the federal government and private brands as well) wanted to have an informational hub for product and safety recalls – Lauren Bell was inventive enough to think of putting it on an app.
After finding your pain point, what’s the next step? Find out here.