What are you selling to your customers? Your answer, as the answers of many entrepreneurs, will be your products and services.
Some of you will answer that you are selling the solution to the problems for the target market. It’s the correct answer.
Some of you will answer that you are selling satisfied needs for your customers. That’s also the correct answer.
However, what I see as a possibly dangerous situation for entrepreneurs is that all of these answers have a very tiny view of the real situation in the target market.
So, What Exactly Are You Selling to Your Customers?
Today’s and future markets are an ecosystem. Their needs and the solutions offered to them are not simple products and services. This may be one of the most important conclusions you must make for future improvements and alignments with your business.
Yes, your core business is selling products or services, but you need to sell much more of that if you want to sustain on the market.
For example, Apple sells the product (hardware – iPhone, iPad), but also sells other’s people’s products as applications and games or other business products such as newspapers or magazines. Do you think that Apple would have today’s success if the company didn’t succeed in attracting designers and businesses that add value to their basic product?
There is evidence on the same market, Nokia, and their today’s problems even though they have great products but didn’t have the appropriate ecosystem around them.
Your Total Offer and Your Product and/or Service
Your total offer is the sum of your value proposition and your price. We don’t talk about product or service here, but value proposition and price. Suppose you don’t include the value you’re offering in your total offer. In that case, you’re missing an opportunity to sell your product or service.
Suppose your offer is too complicated or there are too many pieces to the puzzle. In that case, you’ll likely lose your potential customer before they realize why it’s worth investing in what you have to offer.
Your products and services are only one small part of your total offer. Your total offer can be your products and everything else with which your business adds value in the eye of your customers. That everything else can be:
- Internal, from your business (associated products or services, logistics, guarantee, warranty, bonuses, pricing, customer support, deliverability, availability…)
- External, from other businesses and people (products and services that are related to your products and services and can improve the overall satisfaction of your customers but are provided by other people or businesses).
Your Business Ecosystem and Your Total Offer
Now, where are your products and services in this war of ecosystems?
First, you have a target market where your ideal customers are. Then, you have your total offer with which you want to attract your target customers. In this case, your total offer will contain your products and services and everything you do to deliver value to your customers. This is the central point, but there are also external and internal addons.
Definition of Ecosystems
In Wikipedia, an ecosystem is defined:
An ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the organisms living in a particular area, as well as all the nonliving (abiotic), physical components of the environment with which the organisms interact, such as air, soil, water and sunlight.Wikipedia
But, there is also a definition of business ecosystems:
An economic community supported by a foundation of interacting organizations and individuals—the organisms of the business world. This economic community produces goods and services of value to customers, who are themselves members of the ecosystem. The member organizations also include suppliers, lead producers, competitors, and other stakeholders. Over time, they co-evolve their capabilities and roles, and tend to align themselves with the directions set by one or more central companies. Those companies holding leadership roles may change over time, but the function of ecosystem leader is valued by the community because it enables members to move toward shared visions to align their investments and to find mutually supportive roles.Wikipedia
So, a business community is an ecosystem that produces goods and services that benefit its customers. Its member organizations include suppliers, lead producers, competitors, and other stakeholders.
Sometimes the value created by a business community is more valuable than the actual products that are produced. Companies in this community are very busy doing everything from developing new products and maintaining their existing products. They are also responsible for marketing their products, finding new customers, and creating more jobs for their employees.
How to Find External Add-Ons?
To find possible external add-ons for your business, you must answer the following questions:
- Who really are your customers?
- What are their real needs?
- What is something that they want in your products and services?
- How are they using your products and services?
- How can we satisfy their broader needs?
- Who are possible partners for my business?
What do you think? Can you implement this strategy in the future?
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