I think it was Pink Floyd who said, “we never thought of it that way”, when someone asked them to comment on a particular interpretation of one of their songs.
It’s the mark of a great “product” when its consumers think of more / different uses for it than are contemplated by its creators.
Microsoft Word, Excel and many world-class ERPs show such signs.
In our own sphere, we came across such a product last year. My company GTM360 Marketing Solutions developed go to market solutions for a mobile phone based secondary sales application. The company that owned this product positioned it primarily as an automated solution to replace what it termed as “the tyranny” of paper-based process followed by FMCG and CPG companies. However, when we did a deep dive study of the product, we discovered that one of its customers was using a rarely-touted product feature that permits realtime discovery of new stores that opened in existing beats of its salespersons. Equipped with this source of competitive advantage, they were able to expand their market. We recognized that this was a powerful “use case” that gave the product an entirely new value proposition. By packaging it via a marketable item, we were able to propel the product into a different orbit of sales pipeline, ticket size and sales cycle.
More recently, we came across a sign of greatness in another product. Having nothing to do with IT, this was a portable LED lamp that we chose as our corporate gift to give away to our customers and prospects for the new year.
The vendor from whom we bought this product described it as an LED lamp that ran on a pair of AA batteries (batteries included). Soon after we began distributing the gift, we received a lot of appreciation for it from many recipients who had found a plethora of uses for it, such as:
- Light up a laptop keyboard while traveling in a car in the night.
- Flashlight in the dark.
- Bedside reading lamp. If people fall asleep while reading – as many do – they risk the book or their hands falling on the power cord of regular table lamps, which could crash the lamp and break its shade and bulbs, if not cause electrical short circuits. Being cordless, our LED lamp neatly sidesteps this problem.
One recipient waxed eloquent that this “lovely lamp … will surely light up my new year!” Another has ordered it as a giveaway for guests attending a family function, thus launching this product into far beyond the realm of corporate gifting market for which it was originally conceived.
When we selected this lamp, we thought of it as nothing more than a physical product that still remains relevant in today’s digital world that has torpedoed traditional gifting favorites like pens and diaries. We’re pleasantly surprised that its recipients have found so many uses for it.