• Matthew Lerner

Instead of "Educate the Market"

My previous post warned against trying to "educate the market."

So what should you do instead?

First, your product helps people achieve some goal that has them vexed. Still, you need to understand 4 things:

  1. How exactly do customers frame the goal in their minds?

  2. How do they think about the obstacles/challenges they face?

  3. Where would they look for solutions?

  4. And what do they expect those solutions to look like?

Next, you show up where they’d expect to find help and resemble the thing they expect to find. This means showing them the benefits they expect, in their terms, not yours.

Slack is a Perfect Example of This

Slack was not a “thing” people understood or realised they needed. That’s why Slack’s founder, Stewart Butterfield, sent this email to all employees shortly before the launch. He said:

We know that we have built something which is genuinely useful… However, [people] have no idea that they want Slack. How could they? They’ve never heard of it... They think they want something different (if they think they want anything at all). They definitely are not looking for Slack. Just as much as our job is to build something genuinely useful… our job is also to understand what people think they want and then translate the value of Slack into their terms… Therefore, “understanding what people think they want and then translating the value of Slack into their terms” is something we all work on.

Out of the 3,000 words of Stewart's full email, the word “educate” does not appear once. Value in their terms.

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