Your favorite workaround?

MS Excel is one of the most effective business software products in history. But if your clients use it excessively, it becomes logistically defective. Then what – workarounds?

Have you heard this?

  • “We have a kind of makeshift workaround for that”
  • “Well, we don’t actually use that software at all. We just do blah blah blah and then put the information in spreadsheets”

Workarounds and spreadsheets – the two key signals that someone needs better a product solution. Probably software, but maybe other kinds of products you make – training, process, certification, coaching, and more.

My software-company clients often report that their products eradicate the Excel spreadsheet-pain felt by their customers. As they should explicitly mention in their marketing copy.

To which companies like SmartPlanner and SmartSheets have said, “no problem, we’ll just make better spreadsheet software so you can make better workarounds”.  Notion and Google Sheets fall halfway into that category too.

This is great; these products work well for some people – digital-savvy people like you and your employees, partners, and colleagues. 

But if your customers confess to “running their businesses” on spreadsheets, or talk about having “dozens or hundreds of spreadsheets for that”, then they might need your product.

But how do they know if your product will help?

Because you have learned exactly what their workarounds are, you know how Excel is a part of those workarounds, and you are able to repeat all this back to them.

Seth Godin:

I’m not really interested in helping you become marketing-driven because it’s a dead-end.

The alternative is to be market-driven – to hear the market, listen to it, and even more important, to influence it, to bend it, to make it better. 

When you’re marketing-driven, you’re focused on the latest Facebook data hacks, the design of your new logo, and your Canadian pricing model. On the other hand, when your market-driven …. you listen to their frustrations and invest in the changing culture.

You can be market-driven if you keep asking customers, “What are your workarounds”. Eventually, you’ll learn how your products can replace them.

My best,