Level 3 Sharpening: Generate New Product Ideas

A popular way to get product ideas is to search for demand, look for industries, look for roles within companies, or look for problems worth fixing.

But if you dig deeper, you’ll find some pretty common motivations, aspirations, struggling moments, anxieties, and alternatives. Some solid, recurring yet underserved trends from which to generate some new product ideas.

In an article called Level 3 Sharpening: So You Can Rely Less on Sales, I made the case that it’s not enough to understand the buyer’s industry, role, problems or aspirations. You have to get to what I call a “Level 3” understanding of your buyer:

  1. Not Sharp Enough: Understanding the Role, the Market and The Benefits
  2. Sharp: Understanding the Problem and the Aspiration
  3. Sharpest: Understanding the Situations That Are Ripe for the “Switch”

So we’ll have examples that go straight to Level 3, build up from there, and see what kinds of products come to mind.

Below are some example situations that you’re probably not thinking of, aspirations that your buyers are probably having, anxieties that you’re probably not reducing, and habits that are probably your real competition.

Situations That Are Underserved

Situations are what start off a buyer on their journey to finding a solution. They’re the trigger, the struggling moment, the point where people say to themselves “enough is enough”. There should be something in here that your people are experiencing.

  • When I’m trying to get a promotion
  • When I’m considering a change in career
  • When I’m struggling to learn things on my own
  • When I can’t find an answer to my unique question
  • When I’m running out of time to do it myself
  • When we’ve just changed the size of the team
  • When I’ve run out of decision-making energy
  • When I no longer care what people think
  • When I notice that a problem isn’t going away
  • When I’ve just moved to a new place
  • When I’m running out of people to delegate to
  • When I’m getting cancellations
  • When I’m realizing I might be wasting my time
  • When the world seems to have changed all of a sudden
  • When I’ve got to keep more people accountable for the work
  • When things start piling up and nobody’s picking the ball

Aspirations That Keep Coming Up

Being thrust into searching for a solution, your buyer will nurture an aspiration, a dream, a deeper wish that they’re not necessarily putting words to. This list should include something your buyer is aspiring, something you can make sure your product delivers on.

  • So I can say I’ll have organized my system
  • So I can be associated with the right crowd
  • So I can be equipped for when I make my move
  • So I can be playing the game everybody else is playing
  • So I can improve my odds of making it work long-term
  • So I can create a new sense of prosperity for my family
  • So I can crush my competition
  • So I can move the needle
  • So I can have a breakthrough
  • So I can be on the map
  • So I can take the high road
  • So I can get moving on the bigger goals

Anxieties That Are Not Reduced Enough

Your visitors are excited, but then they hit reality. Hesitations, anxieties creep into their thoughts. What if’s and what about’s that you’re probably not addressing. So far you’ve been concentrating on adding appeal, when you should probably focus instead on reducing these anxieties.

  • The price is too low, how will this be around forever?
  • The price is too low, there must be a catch
  • I don’t want to have to learn all of these features
  • It’s going to take a lot of effort to change myself/ourselves with this new knowledge
  • This will take time away from other things I’m committed to
  • I don’t want my stuff to be locked in this system if I want to leave
  • I’m going to have to change our process if I use this method
  • I’m going to have to maintain this after I buy it
  • I’ll have to get this approved before I go through with this
  • There are too many choices
  • I’m not sure how I’ll explain this to other people
  • The price is too high

Habits That You’ll Be Competing With

Your product’s main competitor is going to be something you’re not thinking about. You’re competing against people’s “I’ll just” statements more than you’re competing against other offerings in your industry. Make sure your product is massively better than these, and you’ve got a shot.

  • I’ll just do it myself
  • I’ll just cobbled a system together with the tools I have
  • I’ll just continue doing it the way I’ve always done
  • I’ll just ask around for advice
  • I’ll just research some more next time I get a chance

Generate a New Product Idea

Here’s what I suggest: pick one situation, one aspiration, one anxiety to reduce and one habit to take seriously.

Pick one of each at random. Then see what comes up.

Note: Visit the post on the website to get “Pick one at random” buttons to help with this.

Situation your product could hook into:

Aspiration your product should nail:

Anxiety to reduce about your product:

“I’ll just” statement your product is competing with:

This exercise will likely spark a product idea for your industry, something you know how to address.

You’ll know how to find people that are experiencing that situation. Or maybe you need some help finding places where to start your research.

Maybe the product you’ll come up with is a digital product or a physical product. Maybe it’ll inspire you to publish a constellation of mini struggle-solvers: blog posts, guides, ebooks.

Landing Page Writing Approaches That Are Underused

With this new information, you can craft a landing page with some unusually compelling text. Here are some approaches that you don’t see used often, but they create a response of “I feel understood” in the mind of the visitor.

  • Instead of / You’ll have: by using two lists, one of top of the other or side by side, you create this contrast where the visitor relates to the “instead of” situation they want to leave behind and the “you’ll have” progression toward their aspiration.
  • Before and After: A different take on “Instead of / You’ll have”, “Before and After” can be done with an illustration or using words. Pretty classic.
  • Quoting the struggle: Enclose in a quotation block words that your visitor is likely thinking when thinking about their “enough is enough” situation. Or include that quote in a heading. The visitor will read those words and think, “yes, this is me”.
  • Maybes: If your visitor’s struggle might be described by different types of situations, make a list of descriptions of the different struggles, starting each one with “Maybe”. “Maybe you’ve been trying to do it yourself for a while and you’re now out of time”. Even generic descriptions like “trying to do it yourself” is surprisingly effective at making the visitor feel understood.
  • Describing the aspiration: “There’s a better way forward”, “Here’s how it could be instead”, “Here’s another possibility”, “What if?”, “Imagine if…”, or one of my favourites: “Let’s pretend we’re in the future and the problem is gone”

You came here looking for some potential product ideas. Most product ideas fail unless they address a hard struggle, feed into an aspiration, surmount your buyer’s anxieties and are way better than their current “I’ll just” alternatives.

But with that Level 3 understanding of the buyer, you’ll likely find some fresh new product ideas you hadn’t thought about, and a remarkable new way to write product landing pages to go with that new understanding.

Stay sharp!


Get new articles like this one.

To learn to sharpen your sales pages.