Risky Business

How would you rate your driving skills? Chances are, you’d say you’re better than average. And that would put you in the majority of humans. In fact, in study after study, psychologists have found that most people consistently rate themselves as above average drivers. Huh? Clearly everybody can’t actually be better than average, so what gives? Well, it turns out that this overestimation of our own abilities is actually a natural human trait, not a sign of rampant egomania. It’s known as the overconfidence effect, or illusory superiority.

And this outsized sense of confidence can extend to aspects of our lives beyond how we rate our driving skills. This means that when we do things like make a guess based on a gut feeling, the overconfidence effect can cause us to place far more faith in that gut feeling than is good for us. And that can be very risky, especially when it comes to investing a lot of time and money in a product -- based on little more than a guess. But here’s the good news: Understanding this cognitive bias towards overconfidence is more than half the battle.

In our 10+ years of helping teams create winning products, we've seen a lot of guesswork. To eliminate the high risk that comes with it, we’ve honed a system that helps take the guesswork out of uncovering and conveying your unique value. Instead of relying on gut feelings, instinct, or luck, we apply a healthy dose of objectivity to our methods. We structure all of our processes around a deceptively simple concept we call the Engagement Equation:

Engagement = Progress - Friction. 

So what does that neat little formula mean? Well, to increase engagement, users must perceive that you’re going to help them make progress towards their goals by removing areas of friction and frustration that are currently standing in their way. Hence, the more friction you can remove, the more you’ll accelerate progress -- and the more engaged your users will become. But to get them to switch to your product in the first place (before they can ever go on to become engaged users) they must perceive your unique value. Your unique value is the job people would hire your product to do. And you need to do it better than anyone else out there.

But how can you know what area of value to focus on to attract those users and become a solution they’ll covet? When it comes to nailing your unique value proposition, the secret lies in finding the sweet spot where high desirability and low noise intersect. Here’s a top level look at what that means and how we help coach teams like yours towards discovering their own product’s sweet spot of value.

Why It's Worth The Brain Space

We know that there are an awful lot of things to think about when you’re preparing to launch a new product, and it’s easy to feel pulled in a million different directions. The temptation to rush that Big Idea of yours out to the public can be practically irresistible. But do yourself a favor: Resist that urge. Products -- like houses -- simply cannot stand on a foundation of sand. If you want your product to succeed, you have to make sure that you're building the right thing, not just anything. You have to immediately grab your customer's’ attention. And that means doing everything you can to ensure that you’re building your product out from a solid foundation. And it all begins with a stellar -- and unique -- value proposition.

But maybe you’re thinking: “I got this. I know my product’s value! That’s why I’m so excited to launch it!” And that’s a fair point -- of course you and your team have your own ideas about why someone would want to buy your creation. But ask yourself: Will everyone else get it? Will they get it right away? And consider this: The aspect of your product that you find most compelling might not be what your customers would walk over glass for. So before you can convey what makes you so uniquely valuable, you must understand exactly what valuable means to your future customers.

And in a world full of noise from competitors, you’ve got to grab the attention of your potential users fast. To tempt users to switch to your product from whatever method they’re currently using, your value proposition must resonate with them. It must stand out from the crowd. And you don’t have time to sit them down and explain your unique value. It must be immediately apparent. That means you’ve got to be crystal clear -- and correct -- about what that unique value is, right from the start. And we can help you suss that out methodically and objectively.

Start With The Job

The first step we take towards nailing your value prop is uncovering your product’s singular value. And that means understanding the job people would hire your product to do. Think about it this way: Your product represents a specific solution to a broader job that your customers want to perform. For example, a job is finding your way to your destination as quickly as possible. A solution to do that job is Google Maps or Waze. And that’s an important distinction, because your solution is probably one of many. And that means you first need to understand the job your customers might hire your product to do if you hope to be the most valuable solution.

To sort this out, we’ll help you create your own Job Desirability Map —   think of it as a customer journey map on steroids. We’ll work with you to map out every task and step your users might take to try to accomplish the job they’re trying to do. We’ll look at what users are trying to accomplish, as well as the friction points users may be experiencing as they try to make progress towards their goals. This process will help uncover that all-important Job, as well as the smaller sub jobs, that your users would hire your product to do. Once we’ve nailed that, we can dig even deeper to understand what would make your app the most desirable solution.

Discovering Desirability

To identify how your users define high desirability, we have to define and understand their desired outcomes. Desired outcomes are essentially the things your users need -- the successes your users absolutely must experience -- as they work towards accomplishing their goals.

To help users accelerate their progress and achieve these desired outcomes, the friction points they’re currently encountering must be minimized. Your job desirability map will help you locate these areas of friction. And our unique SLOW interview process helps dig even deeper with real potential customers and uncover their motivations, goals, needs, and frustrations. The greater and more frustrating the friction point that needs to be minimized, the more opportunity you have to provide irresistible value and accelerate their progress. We’ll help you identify and prioritize your users’ most highly-desired outcomes so that you can then understand how to show them that you have the most desirable solution to their problems.

Dusting the Competition

Remember we told you that the intersection of high desirability and low noise is where you’ll find the sweet spot for your value proposition? Never forget that you’re competing in a crowded marketplace. And it’s not enough to just be desirable -- you have to stand out. So once we’ve helped you uncover your users’ top desired outcomes -- those areas where you could provide the most value -- we’ll help you get a handle on what your competitors are bringing to the table.

Where are your competitors failing to provide value? What problems are they not solving? What frictions and frustrations are not being solved? Where are your biggest opportunities to step in and differentiate yourself? Bottom line, we’ll help you ascertain what value your competition offers in order to hone in on the unique value only you could provide. After all, the lower the noise, the louder your voice will be heard -- and the more clearly your value will resonate.

Validating Your Value Prop

Once we’ve helped you identify and and articulate your value proposition, it’s time to test it out. After all, you need to know if your product will have that sellability factor in the real world. And the first step to test whether or not your product is worth walking over glass for is to set yourself up to learn whether or not potential users immediately perceive the value in what you’re offering. We’ll help you create an experiment to test and validate your hypothesis -- so that you can go on to confidently build the right product that conveys that unique value your users will crave.