As a founder, I was in love with my products. Head over heels. There was nothing better.
As an investor, I see founders who are in love with their products too. They’ve poured hours and hours into thinking deeply about them and crafting them. I’d argue it’s a prerequisite for a founder to be in love with their products. How else will they sustain the inevitable downturns that nearly all startups face?
But here’s the challenge. As a founder, you spend your waking life thinking about your products. But your potential customers spend five seconds. And therein lies the problem.
Founders who are in love have the hardest time reducing. Ask them to crisply describe the value proposition of their product and you get a five minute discussion. Ask them to describe the most important feature and you get a half dozen. Anytime you ask a founder to reduce the description of the product, they feel boxed in. “But, it’s sooo much more than that!”, they’ll say.
And it is… But it doesn’t matter.
Your customers cannot digest the full scope of your product in one shot. There is no way. They have neither the interest nor the ability to get the new future that you envision in a single gulp.
You have to introduce it to them – one step at a time.
The way I think about this dilemma is that you need to divide your product into one (maximum two) features/benefits you describe and let the user discover the remaining beauty and scope and breadth of your product.
The describe/discover framework, I’ve found, helps founders through the knothole of reductionism. They aren’t limiting the product in their minds, they’re limiting and staging how it’s presented.
Before you launch your product, ideally before you even start developing your product, ask yourself the question, “what’s the one benefit we’re going to describe?” If you can’t answer that question, you’re not ready for launch. Once you answer it, orient your UI, marketing, PR and sales around that.
In my next post I want to talk about how do you pick what feature you describe vs. what ones users discover.