You’ve been sleeping in the office for the last month.
Lots of work went into the product but, you’re proud of what just shipped.
It’s been a week… 2 weeks… a month… nothing…
It’s the perfect product for your target market but, no one’s talking about it. No one’s using it…
Does this mean that your product is bad? No. Does this mean that your team should re-think the direction? Maybe.
But, you don’t know…
Hate is a better signal than indifference. You can iterate around hate better than indifference (Dave McClure).
Indifference tells you very little. If people love your product, everything’s good. If people hate your product, you have an idea of where to take it.
If you’re new to the market, it’s best to offend than to release an asepticized product. Your product seeks impact and passion. Hate and love are its best channels.
No matter what you do for work, you have insight into a problem (or many).
You probably understand the market, the customers and the issues your employer is facing. You have inside knowledge into a business and, that’s worth something.
I learned how hard it was for large enterprises to deliver software, how little music stores cared about customer feedback and how easy it was to steal from security guards in previous positions.
You might not know what the solution to the problem is (yet) but, you already know what’s broken in the industry you work in. If you’re passionate about solving that problem, you might be ready to start a business.
Inside knowledge and deep industry understanding are at the root of the successes of many businesses (Fast Company, Salesforce, Zappos, etc).
Think about your favorite pair of jeans. They’re probably not new. They’re probably not in perfect condition. Yet, you love them.
Now, if you could only have one pair of jeans, how likely would you be to trade those jeans for a new pair? Those new jeans would have to be pretty darn good for you to get rid of your favorite pair of jeans…
Maybe you bought them $100 but, to you, your favorite jeans are also worth the comfort, the looks you get and the difficulty you had in finding them.
We typically value 3 times more the products we own than what they’re actually worth. Inversely, we underweigh by a factor of 3 the benefits of a new product.
Put together, this means that, to make someone want to switch, a product has to be 9 times (3 x 3) better than what they currently have (9x effect). Hard… but not impossible.
Had you subscribed to Fast Company through direct mail in the early 90s, chances are, the magazine you had wanted didn’t exist.
Had you ordered a pair of shoes on Zappos at the end of the 90s, chances are, one of the founders would have ran to the nearest shoe store to purchase it and ship it to you.
If you visit one of my recent Web projects, chances are, the product purchase pages don’t really allow you to purchase the products.
Because you don’t have to have a product to test a product; there’s many ways to validate demand for a model. With a bit of creativity and the drive to make something believable, you can test parallel models very cheaply. It can be time consuming but, it sure beats building the wrong thing and realizing it too late…
How can you test your offer quickly and cheaply?
- MVV = Minimum Viable Vision
- MVP = Minimum Viable Product
- MDP = Minimum Desire Product
It doesn’t matter if you’re doing lean, agile or if you’re shooting for another model or acronym. What matters is that you realize that, what you think will work and what will end up working (if anything) are 2 very different things.
Everything you do before testing is an assumption. In other words, prior to interacting with customers, your market, your customer segments, your product and your strategy are only best-educated guesses.
This is why we talk about minimum because, building the minimum is the best way to avoid spending too much time on the wrong assumption.
Maybe you have the wrong minimum… A good assumption will come equipped with success and failure metrics and trackings (Eric Ries). Build the right minimum and forget the buzzwords…
If you freeze an idea too quickly, you fall in love with it. If you refine it too quickly, you become attached to it and it becomes very hard to keep exploring, to keep looking for better. The crudeness of the early models in particular is very deliberate. (Jim Glymph)
You can be in love with the problem you’re trying to solve and the people you’re trying to solve the problem for but, you should never be in love with your solution.
To quickly pivot from one concept to another and find an optimal solution, you need to be free of constraints and pre-established ideas because, the idea you love this week may need to be killed the next.
So, be flexible, let customers fall in love with your feature set, version, product, etc while you… look for love elsewhere.
Before jumping in and starting my first company, I was annoying my contacts trying to read everything I could on entrepreneurship.
It felt like, the more I would know, the more control I would have over the outcome of starting up.
I read and read until, one day, I was told that there was nothing else to read; it was time for me to start up…
Since, I’ve been privileged, as a user experience (UX) consultant, to work with many smart people and help them think through and plan amazing products and business models… on paper.
Problem is though that, in the end, we’re judged by what goes to market, not what we can dream of.
Business plans, timelines, wireframes and sketches are not an end to themselves. Planning only gives us the impression of control. No business or product plan survives development… or first customer contact.
Don’t plan too much, let go of control.
Ever stared at a menu really not knowing what to order? Ever landed on a Website looking at product lists not knowing which to take?
This is called decision paralysis. It’s the result of having too many choices and too little preference from your part.
This is why restaurants have pictures for certain meals, daily specials and can make recommendations if that’s still too many choices.
As a rule of thumb know that, more choices lead to less decisions.
On the Web, in your presentations or in your business, emphasize an option (picture, best choice, recommendation, other) to avoid decision paralysis. This will help your public make a decision and can also help you influence to reach the outcome you seek.