Your Product Better Talk

One of the most important aspects of a novel product is how it communicates with a market. Novel products and solutions have an added responsibility of communicating their value while not confusing potential buyers. Novel products usually carry a different aspect about them. Either in the way they’re marketed, interfaced or even designed, those products have a 28% chance of success in the market. The odds are stacked against them. It takes the consumer mere seconds to shift their attention to something else, and if a novel product doesn’t succeed at communicating what it is in those handful of seconds, it’s likely doomed to failure.

This is a dilemma for the creator.

Creating an innovative product provides an edge over the competition. It brings about an element of newness that, perhaps for a short span of time, provides a first movers advantage that will set it apart. At the same time, the product should also come off as “just another product” in the sense that it doesn’t paralyze passers-by that fail to understand what this product wants or what value it could provide in their life. This is especially true for products that increase in value as you use them. For example, Facebook must’ve faced a paramount challenge in getting people to sign up and use the website. Think about it: when Facebook first launched (beyond Harvard), it had to convince people of a value that was yet to be deliverable. The value of Facebook is in the users and the content those users share on the platform. What pulled you into the platform is likely your friends or family members, because they know that without users in the form of friends and family, the platform fails to deliver its value. But now think of those very first users. The awkward friend that decided to try out Facebook when no one was using the platform. How was he convinced of Facebook’s value proposition? Infamous literary examples like AirBnB and Uber are other products that faced the same task. Startup culture calls this task traction – how fast can you gain users on your platform?

How did they do it?

More importantly, how can you do it for your novel product that you plan on launching?

Communicate with a Niche customer segment
It is immensely important to target a very specific segment early on. This will allow you to focus the product’s messaging in all related content. Advertising the product and marketing it will be much easier when done to a clearly identified and relatively small group of people. For example, let’s say that you are developing a new exercising machine. As opposed to selling it to every gym in the world and every person that goes to the gym (a ridiculously big number of users), start by pitching it to your local gym. That way, you will have more control over your product’s messaging. You will be able to refine the way your product communicates with a market on a smaller scale. For example, you might find out that your exercising machine is coming off as too sophisticated, even though it’s not. This will prompt you to make less costly changes to the packaging and other marketing material associated with the product.

Communicate a Lead Feature/ benefit
One of the ways products paralyze consumers is by communicating way too much. The product, knowingly fearing its potential buyers’ short attention span, attempts to shout out as many features in these handful of seconds hoping something sticks. Instead, it’s much better to assign a lead feature or benefit to your product. Dropbox is a good example of this.

Dropbox’s lead benefit is the ability to access your files anywhere. There are several other features that it provides (such as 2GB of free storage and manually setting bandwidth limits), but those are all secondary benefits. Products usually solve a couple of problems at the same time. However, its the product’s duty to identify its lead feature, and communicate that first. One way to identify your product’s lead feature is to test problems. Testing problems with a potential market early on provides you with insight as to how painful the different problems are to them. You can then rank and order your problems based on data. The highest ranked problem will become your lead benefit.

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