Ever wonder what your customers really want? How could you tweak your product or sales pitch to get them to buy in big volumes? And could you come up with a new idea for a product or service that would put you and your company on the map?

You can find the answers to all these questions, and it's not rocket science. That's the word from Brian D. Evans, serial entrepreneur and CEO of the app marketing firm Evani Ads, as well as author of the entrepreneurship blog Lions Brain. In a recent post, Evans revealed what he calls four "Secret Words" that, he claims, will allow you to build a multi-billion dollar business. While I doubt every reader will become a mult-millionaire, the principle involved is very, very smart. And it will give you amazing insight into what your customers and potential customers most want--and are almost certain to buy.

The approach is amazingly simple. Begin by visiting the websites and social media most relevant to your product or service. That might be Yelp, Amazon, or other review sites. It might be a local Facebook group. If yours is B2B company, this method might work less well, but try visiting any online forums or review pages where your customers and potential customers discuss products. Wherever you go, keep an eye out for the following phrases:

1. "I love..."

This will help you most when it's applied to a product or product feature that the reviewer really appreciates. "I love the way my new vacuum cleaner is so good at picking up cat hair." "I love the way this new app makes sure I never miss a meeting." Whatever the product or service, this phrase will clue you in to which features in your products--and your competitors' products--customers value most. You can make sure to include those features in any new iterations, and emphasize them in your marketing and branding.

2. "If only..."

"'If only' statements will make it pretty obvious what's missing in existing products," Evans writes. Indeed. I would love our BrewStation coffee maker--if only it didn't have this odd little area where water collects and just sits, requiring us to clean it out every couple of days. (Are you listening, Hamilton Beach?)

You can use "If only..." to find the features you need to add or services you need to offer to gain competitive advantage in the marketplace.

3. "I hate..."

Pay particular attention to these comments since, as Evans points out, "hate" is a pretty strong sentiment. It's also a big opportunity. Finding out what customers hate about your product will tell you what to fix in a hurry before they move on to something else. Conversely, learning what your competitors' customers hate provides you with an opportunity to solve that problem and lure them away.

In fact, Evans says, finding a group of your competitors' reviewers who all hate the same aspect of its product is a great way to build a cult-like following of fans. Fix that one pain point, reach out to them and let them know you heard them and are offering an alternative, and they'll become your loyal fan base.

Evans says he's built whole businesses by paying attention to "I hate..." "The competitor didn't fix what the people hated about their product, so I built an alternative that solved that 'hate,'" he writes.

4. "I wish..."

"I wish..." statements are a great clue as to what new products you could create or features you could add to existing products that would resonate with customers. "People 'wish' for all sorts of features that are missing from their favorite program, app, game, etc.," Evans writes. "It's easy to find these in support forums and reviews." If several different people have the same wish, a product that fulfills that wish is likely to be a big success.

People often don't know what they want, he adds, which means traditional market research may not turn up the information you need. Teasing out the loves, hates, frustrations, and wishes can turn your competitors' customers into your own rabid fans.

Published on: Mar 6, 2015
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