A lot of the time poor validation (or inability to validate) is just a matter of focusing the messaging around the value or outcome instead of the process.
When you’re really product-centric, its easy to get caught up in the how instead of the why.
If you asked me what I thought the top two mistakes people made in marketing were it’d be:
- taking too many cues from what competitors are doing
- focusing on process in messaging (vs outcome)
Ever heard of AXE body spray? Basically an aerosol cologne targeted at guys who want to be more attractive to women.
I was talking to a friend, Betty, who does sales consulting and comedy about the product a few weeks ago around the question, “Is AXE a good or bad product?”
I know very little about it but I’m sure it’s a bad product in the sense that it doesn’t actually deliver on the job of making a guy more attractive to women. There are even lots of memes and running jokes about the product.
But on the job of making a guy “feel like” he’s more attractive to women? Betty is 100% sure it does that for a certain market of people [AXE commercial on Youtube], and I’d definitely agree.
There is someone, somewhere, that put on AXE body spray, and because of its marketing approach, inspired enough confidence for him to go out and talk to a girl he otherwise wouldn’t have, who in turn, was attracted to that confidence.
In that way, it has to be a good product. Not because it’s aerosol cologne. But because the marketing makes it such. In this case, the marketing creates the value.
Luckily, good info products that improve outcomes don’t have to rely on the marketing in order to create the value. Info products are, by definition, value communicated.
BUT they should do a good job of connecting the dots and painting the picture of the outcome. Not just because “people buy outcomes” but because info product compliance is important for user satisfaction.
If you have the greatest online course in the world on personal finance, or habit-science-based weight loss, or improving your relationships, or negotiating better salaries, or whatever, it doesn’t matter if those who buy it don’t implement what they learned.
In that way, you are responsible for being congruent: your messaging (promise) around an outcome and your getting users to follow through on implementing and achieving that outcome are one in the same.
If you cannot properly associate in people’s minds the outcome they can expect, you will not be able to validate your product and if by some miracle you do find a market to buy it, you could find false validation through profit but have your course compliance rate be low.
That’s not validation. That’s just selling. If you can’t properly draw the association in people’s minds of the outcome they can expect, no one will actually follow through.
Your product won’t be valid because it doesn’t do its job.
You’ll get refund requests and chargebacks instead of word-of-mouth sales and credibility velocity (testimonials/case studies/online mentions).
If your product has features, and the outcome associated with those features are obvious (like making someone’s life easier), than you don’t have to hit someone over the head with the benefits.
But if the goal of your product is aspirational, then it’s important to paint the picture of the outcome in your messaging (for ads and landing copy).
Think about Fitbit. It’s essentially a step tracker. If you want to know how many steps you take, get a Fitbit.
But that’s not how a Fitbit is marketed [Fitbit Commercial on Youtube]. And it’s not why people buy and use it. They buy it because they want to be more mindful of measuring their activity as a means to improve health.
Fitbits don’t improve your health but that’s why people buy them.
In this way, as long as the way you arrive at your info product idea is pure of heart, something to be shared, or a packaged up version of a solution you’ve provided with success before, validating your idea really boils down to messaging and targeting.
My wife thinks Fitbits DO improve your health but that AXE body spray DOESN’T help men get more women.
I’m purporting that Fitbits and AXE body spray are doing the exact same thing: selling an indirect outcome instead of what the product actually is.
What do you think? Hit reply, let me know! (Maybe more on that tomorrow.)