If You Build It, They Will Come. Worst. Advice. Ever.

The movie, Field of Dreams, had the famous theme of “If you build it, they will come.”

Kevin Costner’s character felt he should build a baseball field in the middle of nowhere and if he did, then people would come.

Baseball field viewed from behind home plate

That’s just not how business works.

My background is software development. I love to write software. A common problem with software developers is that we have some cool idea and so we create a program or app.

We spend time and energy creating this awesome app.

We then tell the world about this awesome app.

Nothing happens.

No one cares.

It’s because something was built to solve a nonexistent problem.

Don’t fall so in love with your idea that you work on it before knowing that people want it.

Do you know how to find out if people actually want it? You would think you could just ask them.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t work.

If you ask people what they want, they won’t be able to tell you.

Henry Ford, who created Ford Motor company, is credited as saying,

“If I asked people what they wanted, they would have said ‘faster horses’”.

Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, is credited as saying,

“People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

You don’t want to just build something hoping people will want it. But if people can’t tell you what it is they actually want, what are you supposed to do?

While your market won’t be able tell you what they want, they will be able to tell you what they don’t want.

As humans, we are really good at talking about what we don’t want. From that, it can be determined what we actually want.

What Is the Single Most Important Question You Could Ask Your Market?

A mentor of mine, Ryan Levesque, in his book Ask, goes into great detail about asking your target market questions in order to know what they want.

The SMIQ or Single Most Important Question that Ryan brags about is simply:

When it comes to X what is your biggest problem, challenge, or question?

You replace X with your particular market key word. For example, if you were wanting to help people with getting more leads for their business, you might ask:

When it comes to getting more leads for your business, what is your biggest challenge?


What is your biggest problem when it comes to getting more leads for your business?

As you pore over those results, what do you pay attention to? The most common answers? You may be tempted to do that.

Ryan mentions that as he was in the Orchid Care niche that he kept seeing items around watering their orchids – how to water, how much water, when to water?

What did he do with the results? He created a product teaching all aspects of watering orchids.

He went back to those same people that answered his questions and offered the new product.

You would think that he would be able to sell it, right? He didn’t just go off and create the product without consulting the market. He asked the market. And the market responded with a need around watering their orchid.

Unfortunately, he sold zero. What a disappointment.

Depth of Response is Greater than Frequency of Response

He went back and looked at the data again. This time he paid attention to something else. Instead of the most frequent responses which were usually short, he looked at the longer answers. The paragraphs of text that a person responded to that question.

And that is the key. It’s not about the most frequent surface answers, it’s about the answers that are long and detailed. These answers are from people who have demonstrated a tremendous amount of pain, suffering and struggle in their long, detailed, and passionate response.

Here could be an example of one response:

I’ve been caring for my orchids for years, but when I try to repot my orchids, I end up killing them. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I’m washing my tools. I’m washing my hands. I know that orchid roots are sensitive to glaze on porcelain pots so I’m not using those. Yet every single time, I’m still killing my plant. Please tell me what I’m doing wrong.

Compare that detailed response to the earlier ones … how to water, when to water, how much water. There really is no comparison. It is obvious that this person is having a real pain point and wants it solved.

After Ryan solved this problem, he grew his orchid care company to over $25,000 a month in under a year. Going from zero sales to over $25,000 a month is quite the jump and it is all because he was able to find out what the market actually needed.

So don’t simply build something you think your market wants. Build something they actually want. Figuring that out is hard work, but it is very important work to do.

Do the hard work. Get the good results.

So let me ask you…

When it comes to starting or growing your business, what is your biggest challenge?

Feel free to respond in the comments. Of course, you can always let me know via email as well.

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Tell me what you think!