Week 6 Reflection: Customer Creation
The fifth chapter of Steven Blank’s, The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products that Win finally allow the audience a glimpse at what they’ve been working towards. While the goal is ultimately to create an amazing product and subsequently a flourishing business, it is most important to understand the consumers who will drive the demand for the product and bring in the revenue for the company. Here, “in the customer development model, the phrase “customer creation” represents the essential marketing activities necessary to help customers learn about a product and create a desire to buy it.” Startups need to understand the market they have entered so they can best strategize their positioning, launches, and plan how they will need to attract consumers and compete with their counterparts (Blank also introduces the New Lanchester Strategy which is an interesting way to understand your market and prepare accordingly with how you will need to proceed to make the venture sustainable in relation to your opposition.) He reminds us that, “in looking at any existing market, your startup is the weakest player with the least resources,” and, will certainly need to be well equipped to contend with other competitors. (I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Blank even goes on to compare business tactics much to fighting. He quotes Sun Tzu’s, The Art of War, to identify the best tactics to use on an enemy…I mean competitor.) He asserts that, “the major risk in entering an existing market is the dominance of the competitors and the consequent cost of entry.” This philosophy is expounded on as Blank inserts an interesting narrative about how adroit businessman Sam Walton re-segmented the market when he introduced “Wal-Mart” to small communities that were oftentimes overlooked by big box retailers such as Sears and Kmart. Fast forward fifty years and Walton would go on to create one of the largest, most profitable companies in the world while Kmart declared bankruptcy in 2002!
While Blank yet again delivers way too much information in a somewhat compressed format, he is knowledgeable and thorough and his experience drips from each chapter to climax to the best practices for entrepreneurs to follow. Although it is oftentimes overwhelming, it is masterfully placed together and gives founders a clear and concise method for victory!
Blank, S. G. (2006). Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products that Win (3rd ed.). Cafepress.com.
Hayes, A. (2020, January 29). Lanchester Strategy Definition. Retrieved February 23, 2020, from https://www.investopedia.com/terms/l/lanchester-strategy.asp