First, let’s start with what they don’t expect: friction. Businesses small and large make the mistake of creating it. But when it is more difficult to understand, experience, purchase, or use a product than it should be, the result can be devastating for the health of the business. Below I’ll highlight what your customers expect and what you should be thinking about to ensure your business is delivering.

Imagine this scenario:

You’re at the grocery store, have a lot of items to check off your list, and have a bunch of chores waiting for you once you get back home. While you’re shopping, you see a sign encouraging you to try samples of a new single-serve oat milk the store is carrying for use in your morning coffee. You’ve tried oat milk before but aren’t sure what to think about this new brand or single-serve concept.

What are your expectations?

You want to know what this product is, who makes it, and why. And if you’re convinced, you want to purchase it as efficiently as possible.

So do you try it? Do you buy it? That depends on a number of factors:

  • How apparent is it to you in a split second what is being offered?
  • Is a sample booth set up right there or do you need to go seek the product?
  • How much time is required for you to engage?
  • How apparent are the benefits?
  • Have you heard of it before?
  • Do people you trust recommend it?
  • Do complete strangers seem to be trying it and enjoying it?
  • Is the price even reasonable?
  • Is stock of the item ready to grab if you like it and want to purchase?

Whether B2C or B2B, these considerations are among the building blocks of every purchasing journey. Many of them are enumerated through so quickly that they become subconscious. At the end of the day, consumers have problems to solve, desires to fulfill, and a minimum amount of time available. Decisions are often made quickly - sometimes subconsciously - and businesses need to be prepared to market and sell on that same level.

This means your business may want to consider:

  • Are we explaining our product succinctly? If it’s a highly unique offering, is there something more familiar we can compare it to so that we don’t lose people’s interest or scare them away?

What is your equivalent to helping people quickly make that leap from milk -> oat milk -> oat milk portions sized for your morning coffee?

  • If there is any social proof, is that made obvious to folks?

What is your equivalent to a crowd of live samplers raving about your product?

  • Is it easy for someone to try or experience our product?

What is your equivalent to a walk-up sampling stand?

  • Is it relatively quick for an interested party to get pricing details and make a purchase?

What is your equivalent to a transparent price label and an inventory of stock within arm’s reach of a sample?

If you have not yet identified your equivalents, you’ve likely got a leaky marketing or sales funnel.

You also want the product to live up to its promise. And you secretly hope it delights you.

If you’re buying single-serve oat milk, there will be expectations that fall into two categories:

1. Table stakes:

  • Does it taste good?
  • Is its packaging reliable and safe?
  • Does it last until its expiration date?
  • Is the amount provided per serving reasonable?

2. Delights

  • Are the ingredients organic?
  • Does it taste great?
  • Is it easy to open?
  • Is the packaging design novel? Hopefully 100% recyclable?

So your business may want to consider:

  • Can we reasonably deliver on the benefits we are touting?
  • Can we reasonably delivery on the customer’s implicit expectations for a product in this category?
  • Can we absolutely delight our customers?

If the answer to any question above is no, you’ve likely failed to make your product worthwhile enough to produce referrals and repeat business.

Your business has a solution people dig. Help them help you.

Assuming you did your research, you know you have a viable solution to a real problem. If you’re having trouble gaining or maintaining traction as you proceed, consider that your issue might be the amount of friction you’re creating as your market comes across opportunities to understand, experience, purchase, or use your product.