The Magic Wand Question

One of my favorite customer development questions to ask is:

“If I gave you a magic wand, and it could solve any of the problems you mentioned, which problem would it solve, and what might that solution look like?”

I love this question for a few reasons.

First, it starts by focusing on the problems instead of the solutions. The user is forced to pick the most painful problem because they have this magic wand which can do anything! So you can assume that they are picking the problem which causes them the most pain.

Second, you can learn some really interesting “product feelings” from the users potential solution. In general, users aren’t great at imaging what new tools / solutions can be. The epitome of this is if Henry Ford asked people what they wanted back in the 1900’s they would have asked for a faster horse & buggy. However, I’ve found that users, often say, “I don’t know what this solution will look like, but…” {insert how said solution would make them feel}. This is incredibly valuable for then “selling” the product to future consumers! Or for updating the copy / messaging you use throughout your product experience.

At the end of the day, the user owns the problem, and you as a builder own the solution. However, users can still provide clarity around “the feeling” your solution should give them, which I think is a great way to think about what your companies core “product principles” are.

Companies call this many different things. Dropbox calls it Cupcake. Other companies simply call it The Delight Factor. The point is, that if your product can strike a strong emotional chord with someone, chances are, you have solved a key problem for them. In other words, you are giving them a painkiller, not a vitamin. And while vitamins are nice-to-haves, more often than not, people need painkillers.

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