2 min read

💵 Sell What People Want

There is a simple, straightforward strategy for finding out what products your audience would be willing to buy: ask them.

The only problem is that people don’t always mean what they say.

The LEGO® company learned this lesson the hard way.

In the off-chance that you’ve never stepped on one, LEGO® makes toy sets. These sets are made up of small pieces of plastic designed to snap together so you can build sets into various designs.

Someone at LEGO® had the bright idea to send out a customer survey, to ask people what kind of products they’d like to buy.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, so they did it!

The overwhelming majority of responses to the survey were that customers wanted “simpler LEGO® sets” that didn’t require dozens of pages worth of instructions to put together.

That seemed like a reasonable request, so LEGO® relaunched its product line with sets that included one or two large core pieces that you would attach small pieces to, much simpler to assemble.

Ask the Right Question

It was a total disaster. Nobody was buying the new LEGO® sets! Where had all those customers who requested the product gone?

Unfortunately, this story is all too common. When Ryan Levesque tells this story, he emphasizes this conclusion:

People don’t know what they want. They know what they don’t want and they know past behavior.”

Not all feedback is created equal, and you should doubt every “I would buy that” comment unless there is a credit card attached.

What Feedback is Valuable?

That does not mean that you should create products without target customer feedback, but it does mean that you should focus on two types of feedback:

  1. The type of problems your target customer wants solved
  2. The depth of detail some hyper-respondents give

You know who your hyper-respondents are, you just didn’t have a name for them until now.

Ryan Levesque coined this term to refer to the people who respond to your surveys with the most detail, the longest answers, and the most personal information.

These hyper-respondents are highly engaged in solving their problem right now and they believe you can help.

When the LEGO® company looked back at their hyper-respondents (instead of the majority) they found that these super-users wanted more complex sets with more pieces.

So they created sets with hundreds, thousands, and then tens of thousands of pieces—and started selling Death Stars and Battleships galore.

Try It Out

Today, the LEGO® company is the most valuable toy company in the world, surpassing Mattel (which owns LEGO® knock-offs like Mega Bloks).

Don’t ask people what they want, ask them what they don’t want in the form of this question (from Ask by Ryan Levesque):

When it comes to {your topic}, what is your #1 problem or frustration? Please be as specific and detailed as possible.

Then listen. Not just for the most common answer, but for the loudest, longest, most passionate answers—and start solving.