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Your Product Is Boring
You have only 30 seconds to ensure a prospective customer remembers your product.
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Everyone is busy these days. As we scramble between meetings and messages and more, attention has become the most valuable currency in business. If you can get the attention of a person and hold it long enough, you have a chance to make a sale.
Unfortunately, everyone else is trying to grab that same slice of attention! The ensuing battle for attention makes it harder for everyone. Attention has become a zero sum game, where there is a reward for winning and very little downside for cheating. It’s a dirty, vicious fight every time.
So, if you win and get the attention of a potential customer why would you waste it? You fought so hard, you should make the most of it! Sadly, few do. Why?
Because their products are boring.
More specifically, their products are not memorable. The potential customer sees their demonstration and immediately forgets it. Customers are very busy and they have a lot of things going on every minute of every day, so the default is that they forget you and your product.
It’s your job to make sure they remember.
You don’t stand out by doing what everyone else does. Everyone has a login screen. Everyone has a dashboard. Everyone is using AI. Everyone has great designs. These things sound interesting to you because they are hard to do, but they are not what is interesting to a customer.
The way you see your product and the way your customer sees your product differ in a fundamental way:
Features that are hard to build and are complicated will seem important to you.
Features that are novel and easy to use will seem important to your users.
When you step out of your shoes and into the shoes of a customer this becomes clear. All of a sudden you realize that all that matters is what makes your product different! All that matters is how you stand out from the crowd.
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I approach this problem using what I call visible differentiation. Simply put, visible differentiation means that in the first 30 seconds of seeing your product it should be crystal clear to the customer what makes you different from everything else they have ever seen.
Visible differentiation is hard to achieve, since you need to be familiar enough that customers immediately understand but different enough to stand out. It’s a hard line, but if you achieve it something magical happens: customers activate their critical thinking processes.
When a customer sees your product for the first time, their initial reaction is to compare it to what they already know. Their thinking goes into auto-pilot and they don’t really see your product, they see the products they know and are comparing you against them. This is passive thinking and it kills your chances of converting a customer.
If you activate critical thinking, they are looking at your product with fresh eyes. Critical thinking means they are really looking at the value you might add, not just comparing you to something else. Critical thinking means they are paying attention.
So, what does visible differentiation look like? In the early days of Outlier.ai we knew that we needed to stand out in the business intelligence (BI) market, which is as crowded as markets get. We realized that all BI tools have dashboards, so we set out to build the first BI tool with no dashboards. When someone saw Outlier.ai it would look unlike every BI tool they had ever seen, because it lacked the fundamental feature they associate with BI tools.
At the same time, we needed it to be familiar enough that they understood it immediately. We settled on creating a feed of insights, similar to the Facebook and LinkedIn feeds they already knew so well. By choosing something familiar, but in a completely new context, we achieved visible differentiation.
You can do this too! In fact, I bet your product already has some radically new features. To achieve visible differentiation you need to make sure the user sees those features almost immediately. Don’t worry about all the table stakes features, there will be time for them later if the customer remembers you enough to come back. Again, you have less than 30 seconds to be memorable so use them wisely.
Attention is a battlefield, but it’s also a race. If you can make better use of your 30 seconds than everyone else, you will win. Even better, people talk about memorable products so you’ll benefit from word of mouth. Not only does this customer remember you, they will tell a few others and in doing so earn you more attention. It becomes a competitive advantage in the battle for attention.
Let the games begin!
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