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Innovation! Eight Steps to Better Understanding and Addressing Customers’ Needs

Jaimie Blackman • April 2019The Sound of Money • April 4, 2019

Innovation is important, for it can help a business remain relevant in changing markets by creating new products and services.

In my April 2018 MMR column titled, “Measuring Customer Perceptions,” I introduced a great innovation tool called Net Promoter Score tool.

Net Promoter Score is a free tool and depends on asking one simple question to customers: How likely are you, on a scale of 0 to 10 to recommend this product or service to a colleague or friend? The higher the number, the better. offers a free version for your website. The Net Promoter score is a great tool to promote innovation.

Of course, music retailers can always buy the latest in AI and VR technology. But for those who don’t have a chest filled with cash to purchase innovation technology, I cherry-picked one great idea published in the Harvard Business Review which can help you improve your bottom line by creating a culture of innovation.

Job Mapping, by Bettencourt and Ulwick is an innovation tool/idea designed to uncover an unlimited set of opportunities for growth. Job Mapping approaches a customer’s purchase as a specific job to get done. For example, when I purchased my MIDI guitar controller, it took months of research.

The perceptive retailer wants a complete view off all my painpoints which becomes a petri dish for innovation. According to the authors, “job mapping” is an eight-step process. Each step can provide ideas for a customized service offering.

Define: What aspects of getting the job done must the customer define up front in order to proceed? I needed to assess the names of the items I needed to get the job done.

For example, I had a hard time defining that I needed standalone plugins and plugins which could be used with the midi guitar controller software. Initially, I was unable to define what I needed. In this step, the retailer can look for ways to help customers understand their objectives, and streamline resource planning for the customer.

Locate: What items must the customer locate to do the job? For example, for my MIDI guitar controller, I needed to research the market choices, the sounds I wanted, an audio system, a microphone I needed, an extended USB adapter, and a recording device.

Prepare: How must the customer prepare the environment to get the job done? I must have re-arranged my home studio six times until I found the right setup. This included having to figure out what I could actually fit in my space. For example, I needed quality, yet very small, studio monitors.

At this stage, MI retailers could consider ways to make setup less difficult. Perhaps a scheme like what Home Depot uses to see what a new kitchen would look like in an individual’s own space.

Confirm: Once preparation is complete, what does the customer need to verify before proceeding with the job to ensure its successful execution? For example, for me it was about the length of the cables, a proper stand to hold my gear during large performance, and figuring out if my Mac had enough available memory. My goal was to try to nail it in one order, which turned out to be impossible. A year later, I’m still ordering stuff.

Execute: What must customers do to execute the job successfully? My pain point was the fear of a glitch in front of an audience. Here innovating companies can apply their technological know-how to provide customers with real-time feedback or to automatically correct execution problems.

Monitor: What does the customer need to monitor to ensure that the job is successfully executed? For example, I discovered a glitch in the software I had been using and needed to monitor this and create a work-around in my process, so the music didn’t stop. Here’s an innovation example from Nike. A sensor placed in Nike shoes communicates with an iPhone being worn by the runner, providing ongoing audio feedback about time, distance, pace, and calories burned.

Modify: What might the customer need to alter for the job to be completed successfully? If there are changes which create problems, your customer may need help with updates, adjustments, or maintenance. Companies can help by offering ways to get execution back on track when there are problems.

Troubleshoot: What problems must the customer figure out to perform the job? Customers need resources and tools. Perhaps the retailer can help.

In the 1980s I asked to a true innovator and pioneer of electronic music, Bob Moog, how he came up with his synthesizer idea. He told me that musicians complained about the quantity of equipment they had to take to their gig to create synthesizer sounds. He smiled and said, “I miniaturized the setup so it could all fit neatly into a suitcase.” That’s the key to successful innovation. If it’s so simple to understand, after you see it, you’re thinking…. Why didn’t I think of that?

Jaimie Blackman – a former music educator & retailer– is a financial advisor and succession planner. Blackman helps music retailers accelerate business value now through team building, coaching, and mentoring. Blackman is a frequent speaker at NAMM’s Idea Center. Visit to preview his value-creation tools and to subscribe to Unlocking the Wealth newsletter and webinars. If you have ideas for a future column, email Jaimie at

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