All products and businesses serve people. Successful products and businesses create relevance for the people they serve.
I’ve often said that you know you have created relevance when your customer cannot sleep after hearing or reading about your product or service — the impact on his or her life is too important for that person to ignore, because of how relevant the offering is.
One of the easiest and best way of creating this relevance to help reduce the confusion in a person’s massively overloaded lives.
Today, people are massively overloaded — with information, with news, with ads (Aur Sunao anyone!?), and with options! Just remove those nuisances, and you’re relevant to someone!
Here is a great way, then, of identifying successful product opportunities:
1- Recognizing the said overload is simple enough — how many times can each of us tolerate the Aur Sunao ad before adding a todo list item that says “Switch cellphone carriers away from Mobilink — tell friends to do the same”
2- Reducing the said overload is simple enough as well — just remove the pains!
3- Launch, highlight, and trumpet your simplicity.
The first law of media states that if you reduce the total set of media, the attention to any specific media would increase — from competitive economics it implicitly says that the fewer choices of media will also be higher quality choices, and thus there will be a high probability that they will be relevant to the segment at large.
This is a fairly common approach of creating relevance through simplicity. One way of controlling the scope — and hence quality — of media presented is by creating niche-content, such as AAG TV.
This is the approach used to simplify the overload of news and media.
But what about the overload of Choice?!
Take a look at your desktops after a few months of use, and if you’re like me they will look like a war zone. Take a look at many plugin-enabled software products (such as Firefox or MS Word) with all of their options open (a problem called Feature Creep — see the Wikipedia entry on it).
Beyond software, look at Starbucks — which now boasts over 35 different ways of getting coffee! Or, perhaps, even down to Subway, with a lengthy exam to go through to make your sub.
Finally, take a look at ANY remote control being manufactured today, and try not to wonder why God decided to put you through that experience.
We live with WAY too many options, and this can more than overwhelm the typical person. Honestly, the choices we struggle through in day-to-day life makes the Office Clippy look like a refined gentleman in comparison.
The excessive options stop us from doing what we actually set out to do, and constantly give us moments to think and measure options and make decisions. Anyone, then, who can help us sift through the options and can allow us to actually do what it was that we wanted to do, will create successful products, and if nothing else allows you to build a successful niche set of customers.
– Quiznos Subs VS Subway — If I’m going in to have a sandwich, dont put me through an exam that makes me lose my appetite — Quiznos menu structure is a clear winner.
– ANY TV remote control VS the Apple TV Remote — This is even on the CDF Engineering test for all applicants — a 6 button remote can do everything a 50 button one can, AND looks nicer too
– ANY CRM software VS 37Signal’s HighRise — When all we want to do is keep track of our company’s interactions with our customers, why have the sales team spend more than half the day filling up forms?
So… short answer to a long answer to a short question: Simplicity = Relevance = $$$