Reader question about market research, expensive problems, and developing an LFPS (part 1)

Sent by Jonathan Stark on December 3rd, 2017

Loyal reader Brent Giesler wrote in with a question that touches on market research, expensive problems, and developing an LFPS.

This is a meaty question that brings up a bunch of subtle issues so I'm going to split it up over the course of a few days.

Here's what Brent wrote (shared with permission):

I’ve sent outreach emails to approximately 120 custom home builders. I’ve had 6 interviews and 1 more booked for next Tuesday. I've heard individual expensive problems, but so far, not any pattern across multiple builders. The two that I think have tech solutions are: * one builder said, “I'd love some way to be able to find the contact info of land owners, before the big mega-builders do. They're beating us to the punch in buying up all the raw land to develop.” * another builder said he'd love a way to be able to adjust his project milestone dates, in real time, as materials or labor is delayed. That would keep him from ever missing his project end date and causing problems for his buyers Just not sure how I would help with either of those today. And since those were isolated cases for 2 builders, does that really qualify as a problem I can base an LFPS on?

Both of the problems that Brent uncovered strike me a potentially strong “expensive problem” candidates. I'll dive into those in subsequent messages but today I want to call out a number of things that caught my eye:

Non-Tech Problems—Brent wrote that he thought only two of the expensive problems “have tech solutions.” This makes me wonder what other problems he uncovered that he thought didn't have tech solutions. If he had explored the non-tech problem areas more, would he have eventually uncovered tech solutions?

Professional Identity—Or, could Brent solve some of the “non-tech” problems if he broadened what he sees as his professional identity a bit? His site says he's a “web application consultant”, which is fairly specific. Since he's targeting a pretty specific target market, it's okay to be a little more general with his discipline. This would allow him to bring more of his non-technical skills to bear for his clients.

Self-Diagnosed Solutions—Both builders shared what look to me like juicy problems, but they each also included a flimsy “self-diagnosed” solution. As someone in Brent's position, it's easy to fixate on the self-diagnosis and fail to explore the actual problem.

Universal Problems—Brent wondered if the two tech related problems he uncovered were isolated cases that wouldn't be shared by other builders. A single data point does not a trend make, but both of these problems strike me as issues many many builders would face.

Tomorrow I'll deconstruct the first expensive problem statement:

“I'd love some way to be able to find the contact info of land owners, before the big mega-builders do. They're beating us to the punch in buying up all the raw land to develop.”

See you then!

Yours,

—J


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