When I say NOBODY cares what you think, I am saying that the market doesn’t care what you think. The market doesn’t care what YOU think is a great looking logo. It doesn’t care what YOU think is brilliantly written copy or an amazing website. The market doesn’t care what YOU think is the right positioning, channel or messaging. The market won’t tell you directly what it thinks you are doing well or not. The market will only communicate through the dollars that it spends.
I know that you are a very important person and you have a ton of value to deliver this world. Your friends care what you think and so will your family. You probably have a sizeable tribe on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat that care what you think. Compliments don’t feed your bank account; just your ego. My apologies if this sounds harsh. What you think doesn’t matter. Certainly not in the context of marketing your business, product and service.
I recently completed a tech accelerator called Junction31 hosted by Calgary Technologies Inc. In short, this was an 8-week program for small tech startups and first time founders that collapsed an 18-month time frame into 2-months. More on this program and my experience in another article.
This program mixes and matches many startup methodologies but its primary focus is the Lean Startup. One of the harshest lessons I learned in the first week of the program was that the market doesn’t care what I think. It doesn’t care how brilliant I think our idea is. The market doesn’t care about how ALL of my friends and family think that our tech project is amazing. The market doesn’t care how many times I have heard ‘that is a cool idea’ from everyone who will listen to our elevator pitch.
That was hard to learn. It was hard to learn that above all of the personal and professional success I have had, businesses I have built and clients I have consulted, nobody cares what I think.
YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE DOESN’T MATTER
The market doesn’t care about your product or service. No matter what it is. You may offer something simple, elegant, elaborate or substantial. You will be the ONLY one who is in love with your product (or service). Nobody cares what YOU think about your offer.
Over the past 8 weeks, we did a deep dive into the characteristics of a successful company, product and service. The cold, hard truth was that it wasn’t how much the founders, executives, marketers or the janitors were in love with their products. The most common characteristic was how much they fell in love with their clients.
These entrepreneurs and their teams were so in love with the group of people they want to serve, that their product/service will take any form that it needs to in order to solve their clients’ problem. Even if it’s a problem no one knows exists.
Can you imagine YouTube as a video dating service? It sounds crazy that YouTube started off as a dating service in 2005 where relationship seekers would upload videos of themselves describing their ideal partner.
Something like this…..
Nobody cared that the founders of YouTube wanted to launch a dating site. The market spoke loud and clear. So much so that the founders couldn’t even pay people to upload videos of themselves. Their service didn’t matter. Thankfully the founders were more in love with their clients then they were their product. Otherwise, where else would you be watching all of those silly cat videos tomorrow?
Your product or service doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is what the market’s perception of their problem is and how they’re going to solve it.
THE MARKET MUST WANT TO PAY TO SOLVE THEIR PROBLEM
The market has millions of problems they would like solved but not everyone of them can be a sustainable business. The market must:
- Want to solve the problem and actively searching for a solution.
- Want to pay to solve that problem.
These are the first two requirements that make whatever product or service you can deliver a viable business. This was another hard lesson learned at Junction31. We felt we had a very well thought out solution to a very big problem. And we did. What we didn’t have was validation from the market that:
- They want to solve this problem AND are looking for a solution.
The good news is that we learned this hard lesson early on that we can verify that the market we want to serve wants us to serve them in the way we are offering. We have a chance to learn if we are YouTube the dating site or YouTube, the billion dollar video sharing platform (in our own space of course).
We are also so much in love with the clients we want to serve, that our team is willing to do whatever it takes to serve them. We may need a complete re-build or we just may need a subtle change in direction. Nobody cares what we think is the right way. The market will tell us which is the right path and they will speak loudly by where they spend their money.
GET OUT OF THE BUILDING
A very memorable quote from startup Guru Steve Blank. Want to know what the market cares about? Go out and ask them. Get out of the building and get kneecap-to-kneecap with the clients you want to serve. This is not rocket science. Your probably sitting there feeling a little ripped off thinking ‘I’ve read this entire article to this point to find this pearl of wisdom? #NotSoMuch.
Here is the biggest mistake that most marketers make. It’s the mistake I have been making over last 20 years of my career. We are asking the following question:
DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD USE X IF IT DID Y?
This simple little question is death in marketing and building a successful business. There are so many reasons why it is killing your company. Read up more on Steve Blank and go buy his books. He talks about this endlessly along with the author of the Lean Startup; Eric Ries.
In short, no one knows what they WILL or WON’T do in the future. Do you think people KNEW they wanted access to mobile apps on their phone before they were made available through Apple? Do you think that travelers wanted the first Model T produced by the Ford Motor Company?
Henry Ford’s famous joke is that if he asked people what they wanted, everyone would have asked for a faster horse. We need to get out of the building and get kneecap-to-kneecap with people and ask them about what experiences they have had. Ask them questions like:
- What is the worst thing about ‘the thing you do now’?
- How long have you been searching for ‘a solution to the problem’?
- What have you tried so far ‘to solve the problem’?
- Why is it so important for ‘you to solve this problem’?
You need to be with these people in person or, at worst, on the phone. Electronic surveys aren’t going to cut it. These 4 questions are going to lead to another 15-20 questions in a very context rich discussion.
Nobody cares what you think. They only care about solving their problems. A sustainable business requires that the market be willing to pay to solve the problem for which they are actively looking for a solution. Fall in love with your clients because your product and service doesn’t matter.
I had a very intense 8-weeks attending an accelerator program that I mentioned briefly so I took a 2-month break from posting. This is one of the hardest lessons I had to learn and learn it quickly.
I want to read your comments so please post them. Good or bad, they will all get attention. I appreciate you taking the time to read and reply!
Great perspective! Lots to think about here, love the YouTube and Henry Ford references. Hope it’s not another two months till the next post, I’ll be definitely be coming back frequently!
Thanks a ton Mitch… lots more to come!
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