There’s a joke in the start-up world. It goes like this …
“If only the market would have read our business plan and followed it to the letter. Then everything would have worked out perfectly.”
This is the engineer type of thinking. If everything made sense in the schematic, then the engine must work. If it doesn’t work, then it is the fault of the engine, as we’ve followed the schematic.
Yes, it’s a quite moronic way of looking at life but it’s something we do all the time. We make a plan or we have some image of how something is supposed to happen and then when it doesn’t happen, we dismiss the only thing that can’t be dismissed – market data instead of our initial assumptions.
It doesn’t work. If you do something but the market reacts in a different way, the market is always right. The person that needs to pay you have right of way. Plans can be changed. Market reactions can not. It is like physics. If you drop an object, it is going to fall. You can’t change gravity on Earth. You may only accept it.
Let me give you an example.
So two years ago, I’ve met this guy. He built a product and tried to convince me to promote it. As he was kind of big on ego, I won’t mention his name or product, as he will throw a tantrum (you’ll understood soon why).
This product filled no need in the marketplace. Yes, it had a payoff but it was expensive, hard to use and generally, if I bought it, I would just have made my workflow a lot more difficult. Since I haven’t seen any need for this, I’ve politely declined. Yet, he didn’t stopped there. At least once a week he tried to convince me to take the project for free and to promote this product to my list of contacts. I’ve declined.
Then he took this to a forum online. On that forum, everyone told him about the same thing – there’s no need and it’s way overpriced. To help you understand, there were free open source solutions that were better and more functional than his stuff.
He argued with everyone. He told them that they don’t understand it and that everyone wants this. The people who argued with him were his market. Eventually, he stopped posting on forums. I’ve thought that was the end of it. It wasn’t. For months he tried to sell it. From what I’ve heard, he made exactly two sales and one was a refund. Eventually he took everything down and you can’t find this product anywhere on the web.
This is the kind of person that was living in a fantasy, one in contradiction with reality. You could show him market data, you could logically prove to him that this won’t sell and he would still not listen.
Now, leaving aside the narcissism of this situation, having this kind of faith into your product is not always a bad thing. Sometimes a product can break through initial resistance and make a lot of sales. This is a very rare event though. When Steve Jobs designed Next computers, he designed a brilliant product, his masterpiece, his magnum opus but it was a commercial failure. Most people would have tried to sell it no matter what simply because it was good. Steve Jobs accepted reality and the OS of next was the basis of modern MacOS.
Let’s imagine for a second that you have a computer, the fastest computer on the marketplace. It costs $10.000. I design a computer that’s 10% faster for $15.000. My computer is superior and some may pay that extra 50% in order to have the best hardware. Yet, most people will shy away from it and won’t see the value for money.
Your customer isn’t stupid. While consumers are irrational to some degree, this doesn’t make them idiots. They take good decisions with their money. And in order for a product to sell, it must make sense for them, not for you. The world will not beat a better path to your door if you invent a better mousetrap, even if for you this makes a lot of sense.
Your marketplace is your final arbiter. It sells, it is a good product. It doesn’t sell, it’s probably not a good product. Good here is not defined by technical capabilities or how refined it it. It is defined by the value it offers and people vote with their wallets here.
Are you interested in discovering how I can help your business or how we can apply these concepts to your own venture? Then let’s have a talk. For a limited time, I’m giving away complementary 30 minute calls. In these sessions, we’ll discuss ways in which we can maximize your customer value, boost your conversion, achieve more sales and increase any other relevant metrics in your business.
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The Business & Self-Improvement Copywriter