As a business, you offer a product or service that solves a problem of your customers. What if your customers don’t know they have a problem that needs to be solved? That’s an area of marketing that can be tricky, but is very important to understand.

That’s what the founder of OXO had to contend with, he fixed problems that people didn’t know they had. Instead of following the way things had always been done, he was extremely innovative with his product and how he marketed it.

Sam Farber, founder of OXO, recognized a problem with the early design of vegetable peelers, they were small and made of uncomfortable metal pieces, causing trouble for his wife with arthritis. He designed a peeler with a larger handle, using a soft-but-firm rubber that was non-slip when wet. Not only was this easier for his wife and others with arthritis to use, this design would benefit virtually everyone.

Once he came up with this unique, new design, he had to show the public a problem in their life that they didn’t even know existed, and how his peeler solved that problem. He started with an OXO peeler next to a bowl of carrots in grocery stores. At a time when in-store demos weren’t a thing, this new idea gave people a chance to test the product and see the immediate benefit of it. The peeler also had a unique texture, encouraging people to pick it up and hold it in their hand. That small feature made customers want to engage with the product, making them more likely to make a purchase.

Let’s break this down and get some insights we can use.

If customers don’t know they have a problem, they won’t be looking for a solution.

People already had traditional peelers in their homes, and even though they weren’t the best, it’s what the people knew, so they dealt with it.

Ideas to fix specific problems can be adapted to address wider problems.

Farber understood the concept of Universal Design, instead of making something that only helped those with arthritis, his peeler helped them AND virtually everyone else.

People won’t buy your product or service just because it exists, the more you can engage the customer, the better.

Sam Farber gave people an opportunity to test the peelers and experience the benefits first hand, instead of telling them about the benefits and hoping they believed him.

Do something that’s never been done before.

Before in-store demos and interactive displays, customers didn’t have the chance to test a product before buying it. Is there a unique way you can promote your product/service? A new location, method, or audience? For example, a bakery could offer high-protein, low-carb treats from a cart or food truck at a nearby gym.

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