You all have likely heard the term FOMO – “Fear of Missing Out” – the fear that makes us buy products/services because everyone else is doing it and for the fear of missing out on something that others are getting out of it. A fear that has been proven to move products – people wanting stuff that is short demand (“ONLY 5 SEATS LEFT”) or has a sense of urgency (“20% off only TODAY”) or one driven by social proof (“all my competitors are using the software, so I should use it too”). The fear that drives users from mere window shoppers to instant buyers. In the technology adoption cycle made famous by Gordon Moore in the book “Crossing the Chasm“, this fear moves the late majority to buy your product or service. But this is a fear that is experienced on the buying cycle – one experienced by your customers that makes them want to buy your product/service.
However, a more important fear that needs to exist in every company is the “Fear of Missing Touch” (Thank you Steli Efti for introducing me to this term at the Growth Marketing Conference in NYC yesterday). Without this fear within the walls of your offices, you have a very low probability of developing any product/service that will generate FOMO within your target market. So what exactly is the Fear of Missing Touch?
Fear of Missing Touch is the fear of not being in close touch with your target users that you don’t have a very good understanding of your target user’s pain points, needs and challenges. It is the fear that you are not leaving your office (where btw, none of your target users live) enough number of times to “spend time in the wild with the natives”.
It does not matter how many internal opinions are held within your office about what users want, unless you as a product manager is spending time outside the building listening to users and understanding what problems keep them awake so much, that they are willing to pay for a solution, you do not stand creating a product/service that will create FOMO. Don’t fall into the trap of not doing this because you hear stories of “Apple does not do this” or “Facebook did not do this” because they are mere exceptions led by exceptional one-in-million-leaders than the norm. Your chances of being an Apple or Facebook in winning is the same as winning the lottery. The business world is littered with more corpses of failed companies than successes.
Being in CONSTANT touch with your target customers does not guarantee product success, but not doing it guarantees failure.
It sounds very obvious right? But more and more people I talk to, it is apparent that everyone realizes that it needs to be done but is never executed on – it is like exercising. Some of the reasons I have heard for not doing it are the following:
- Our founders have talked with target users before they started the company.
- We all belong to the target users, so our needs are the user’s needs
- We do a lot of A/B testing
- We pay close attention to our competition
- We have talked about it, but we have not been able to find <insert some excuse here> (time, money, motivation, ….)
I believe the main reason for not getting started is inertia. There is a feeling that you have to visit a lot of customers before it would be useful – not true. So here are three action items that you could use to get started, overcoming that inertia.
- Set a goal of visiting just “ONE” customer a month (3/quarter). Once you get used to it and start seeing the benefits, up that to 5 customers a quarter.
- Plan well in advance and send a calendar invite to the customer such that now you have an external commitment (to someone not in your office)
- Visit that customer and send a report of what you learned to everyone. Or present at the company meeting to create awareness that you are visiting real people who will pay real money to buy your product/service. Invite others to join you on your next visit.
Trust me, you will be amazed at what you learn, how eye opening it would be for you if you do it right. If you want to know, how to do it right, read my previous post on “Customer visits – dos and don’ts“.
A word of caution – visiting target customers needs to be a continuous endeavor because customer needs change over time. There is never a state where you will ever understand everything you need to about your target customers.
Do you agree? If yes, please share this post with others in your network. Thank you.