A number of articles recently popped up discussing the process and costs of naming a company or product. Focusing on some of the more recent entrants in the ed tech space, there were tales of tens of thousands of dollars invested in coming up with these names. Setting aside our own reactions to the names themselves, these pieces underscore the importance of establishing a strong and meaningful brand and living up to that brand’s promise. For us, EYELEVEL captures the reason we established our firm, our operating principles, and the unique attributes we bring to each of our clients.
With more than four decades of experience working in the educational products and services space, we have experienced our share of wild successes and failures, thankfully more of the former. While there were lots of variables that contributed to those eventual outcomes, the greatest predictor was ultimately how well aligned a product was to its intended customer. This may seem simple—“give the customer what she wants”—but in practice, there are many obstacles in the way of accomplishing this. In our postings, we aim to share some anecdotes from both our and our friends’ and colleagues’ successes and failures to underscore lessons learned and hopefully help others create more successes. The common denominator is how well (or poorly) the product or service fit with the customer. As a taste of what you can expect in future postings as well as a view into what we are all about at eyelevel, here is a sample of the challenges to simply giving the customer what he wants:
Does the customer actually know what she wants? What are ways you can help your customer articulate her needs? What are some of the ways you can tap into her insight?
Are the customer’s needs real and concrete but latent? In other words, would the customer benefit measurably from your offering but has no awareness of its existence and/or utility in her circumstances?
Is the customer you are targeting actually the right customer for your product? Or, do you have a product in search of its customer?
How does your offering fit into the rest of the customer’s life? Would your product be an amazing upgrade in isolation but infeasible in the typical customer’s environment or workflow?
As Phil Hill recently highlighted in an excellent e-Literate piece, even when you seem to have answered these questions successfully, the ability to cross the chasm from pilots and early adopters to sustainable customer support is often highly elusive. It is our belief (and experience) that a fuller understanding of the customer is a huge step in surmounting these obstacles. We hope you enjoy what we have to share, look forward to your comments and questions, and welcome the opportunity to discuss whether and how we might help you unlock the potential in your company by demystifying your customers’ needs, wants, workflows, etc. And of course, if helping you to come up with a name for your company or product is part of that, we have a few thoughts for you there as well!