In a world of growing choice, consumers face an increasing need to make decisions. With limited resources (time, money, attention span), the decision to register/buy/vote/comment on your online store/website or blog, takes seconds at best. That is why, I suppose, creating differentiation for your product makes the difference between failure and success.
“You’re either remarkable or invisible”
Marketing author Seth Godin coined the term in his book Purple Cow (2003). The idea is simple: if you took a drive in the countryside and looked out of your window, you would see all sorts of cows: brown, black, white… you’d not remember a single one of them. But if you saw a purple cow (like the Milka chocolate logo), you’d never forget it, because it is unique.
Similarly, most websites and mobile apps these days tend to be clones of other ‘brown cows’. How many times did you come across the same landing page for a startup with the LaunchRock theme? or a daily deals site that asks for your email address before showing you the deals? Whether it is lack of creativity, or a belief that copying works, we find very few ‘unforgettable’ products. When is the last time that you saw a product, visited a site or downloaded an app that made you stop on your tracks? For me, it happened with a baby stroller. 4Moms took a product that hasn’t changed in years and made it look ‘new’. A real Purple Cow. Check out this video of 4Moms Origami stroller:
KISS – Keep it simple, stupid
I’m currently reading “The Paradox of Choice” by Barry Schwartz. The book talks about the culture of abundance around us (and the “Fetish of Choice”) that has made it harder for us to make decisions. “More is less”, says the author, providing endless supporting examples along the book. A great example is one about people buying jam. Turns out that people are far more likely to buy one jam when there is only a choice of half a dozen than when there is a choice of twenty or more. We seem to get paralysed by too much choice.
My recommendation is that you learn the lesson and apply it on your startup. Look at Instagram, DropBox, IFFT, Simple and many more. They get the job done. Whatever the conversion goal is: registration, social media sharing, activation or purchase – simple sites get the job done. It takes A/B testing and experimentation, but simple, clean UI should be engrained in the DNA of the company.
It doesn’t matter what you do, it matters WHY you do it.
In his Ted Talk “How great leaders inspire action“, Simon Sinek argues that making great products is about inspiring, and it starts with having and communicating a clear vision to customers:
Great leaders, in contrast, are able to inspire people to act. Those
who are able to inspire give people a sense of purpose or belonging
that has little to do with any external incentive or bene t to be
gained. Those who truly lead are able to create a following of people who act not because they were swayed, but because they were
inspired. For those who are inspired,the motivation to act is deeply
personal. They are lesslikely to be swayed by incentives. Those who
are inspired are willing to pay a premium or endure inconvenience,
even personal suering. Those who are able to inspire will create a
following of people—supporters, voters, customers,workers—who
act for the good of the whole not because they have to, but because
they want to.
I find that crowdfunded startups deliver on this really well. They bring you in on their story, share their vision and ask for the most decisive validation of their idea: your cold hard cash. Just take a look at Kickstarter or IndieGogo and see for yourself. Why don’t you deliver the same kind of passion on your app’s homepage or product tour?
A few examples of starting with why:
- Gtar – stop learning start playing. “We think that everybody should be able to have fun playing music, regardless of how long they’ve been playing or how much time they have to practice. That’s why we built an intuitive feature called SmartPlay, which mutes out incorrect notes as you play and nudges you along as you play through difficult songs.“
- “In your own skin” – documentary video. “And I have to say that I haven’t been so passionate about anything since the birth of my son.“
- Shadowrun – “A few of us [well-known game designers], like Tim Schafer, Brian Fargo and I, have a known reputation and our projects already have many fans. That is an advantage we have, but even if you don’t have that reputation, you can still establish yourself and inspire potential backers. If you don’t come in with a known reputation, you have to build it and present a good representation of what it is that you want to make. Be yourself. Just like traditional investors, backers are investing in people. Your goal is to inspire.”
Watch Simon Sinek’s video:
Don’t be a victim of choice. Like in the jam example, the more choice we give consumers, the harder it is for them to choose. By differentiating your product and creating a ‘Purple Cow’, you will make it hard for customers to ignore you.