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The Focussing Illusion Explained

Why you’re solving the wrong problems

Product Management
Published by Ferdinand Vogler on 29.04.2021 2 min read

Ever read a horoscope? Some of them might seem shockingly accurate. “You’ve proven to flexible in situations where people wouldn’t have expected it from you.” You start thinking and this seems to fit – you have been suprisingly flexible when people didn’t expect it from you!

Stack of rocks with a certain rock highlighted
If you’re building a product it seems intuitive to talk to potential customers if you’re solving their problems. You ask: “Is X a problem you have at your company?”“Yes, X is a problem for us.” Great, let’s continue building! You’re solving your customer’s problems.

A few months later it’s launch day. Your product hits the light of day, there are people visiting your website, your onboarding works. Still nobody buys. But why? Didn’t you identify exactly the problems that need to be fixed?

Stack of rocks with a multiple highlighted areas
You focused on one problem and let a potential customer confirm it. You weren’t looking to change your mind. Yes, Problem X might be something they’re bothering with. But in the rank of all their business problems, Problem X will score the lowest.

When talking to potential customers, always let them talk. If you’re proposing a solution to a problem, ask them how that problem ranks against others they are facing at the moment. Ranking those problems, zooming out and seeing the whole picture will let you know about your customer’s willingness to spend money on your product.

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