Make what they don’t know they want you to make

Let me put on my creative hat and tip that cap to legendary marketing professor Philip Kotler.

I’ll share four approaches to creative problem solving based on Kotler’s answer to the question “What should I sell?”

Kotler summarized his answer like this:

  1. Sell what everyone else is selling
  2. Sell what somebody asks you for
  3. Sell what nobody has asked you for yet, but they will
  4. Sell what nobody has asked you for because they don’t know they want it yet

Now, we can translate this into coming up with creative ideas:

  1. You can do what everyone else is doing, which seems like jumping into a crowded pool. You know the water is safe, but it’s crowded and hard to find space of your own
  2. You can do what somebody is asking you to do, but that’s reactive and not very distinct
  3. You can do what somebody is going to ask for. Does this mean you have to be a mind reader? No, it’s more like reading a history book. People will always want something faster (or slower), bigger (or smaller), sparklier (or more conservative) than what’s already out there.
  4. You can create something that nobody will ask for because they don’t know it’s even possible.

Want an example? Look at your smart phone.

That’s it.

You don’t have to look anything up, it IS the smart phone!

Did you have any idea that you would need this marvel as much as you do… and yes, you do… until you had your first one?

Steve Jobs knew. But you don’t have to be Steve Jobs. You just have to open your mind to finding the intersection between what your customers need, what problems they still don’t have the best solution for, and what you can offer them.

It’s simple but not easy. It’s a place to start.

What do you think? See you tomorrow!