In the last few weeks I was reminded of this dilemma by Seth Godin in his start up podcast and in Derek Siver’s great book – Anything You Want. As the owner of an SMB are you and your team trying to find new customers or should you be focused on finding products your customers would love? Here is my view:

Finding New Products
  1. In the B2B world you are in business to improve the performance of your customer.
  2. Within the bounds of what you are remarkable at, I believe you absolutely should be looking at your customer’s world in sufficient detail to understand how new products, tweeked products, enhanced features, simplified features, easier to use features could enhance their world.
  3. Watch how your customer uses your product or service in the work place. Could it be done more elegantly?
  4. Be careful not to overextend into areas beyond your expertise. This quickly dilutes down why the customer thought you were remarkable in the first place. Of course expertise can be developed, hired or even acquired through acquisitions. Just be careful to maintain your world class reputation and therefore your credibility.
Finding New Customers
  1. The acquisition of new customers should happen in a natural organic way if you overservice the early adopters.
  2. Specifically I have found new potential customers are persuaded by your solutions in their sector. Think of the players in key sectors: Financial Services, Aerospace, Automotive,BioScience, State Government, Legal Services. Each sector has it’s own language. It’s own view of the world. If you’ve solved a problem for an aerospace company then there are many more in that sector that would love to hear the story.
Establishing your credibility will always be about over-servicing early fans and that’s about finding great products for those people before you jump too quickly into the much harder job of earning a new customer’s trust.