Jay Shirley

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The Daily Practice

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Dissecting Product Growth

Published: 09 Oct 2012

How do products become products? Something sold, with value and people pay money. When I see some brick and mortar business, this is fairly apparent. Some people wanted a product and someone could provide that product. A shop is created. Software products are different, typically. They’re significantly more speculative.

Why we use a product

Products serve to make our lives better. Mainly, this is done in the following ways:

  1. Reduce the burden of life. I don’t need to know how to shoe a horse, skin a cow or even hire a blacksmith. Everything is a product now.
  2. Improve productivity in another activity. Most software products fall into this category. The software isn’t the focal point, it’s increasing productivity doing something else.
  3. Fun and games. Instagram and Facebook are these. Prior to that it was board games and countless other activities.

I’m going to focus on increasing productivity. That’s what I’m passionate about. This is the goal and focus of TDP, and will be the focus of any products I would be building.

I won’t be revolutionizing anything, but I want to evolve what we do on a daily basis and make it better. How then, does one take that desire and turn it into a product? Anthropology, my friends.

Life before it all.

Productized electricity (light bulbs, telephones) and indoor plumbing are amazing products. They have revolutionized the world, increased lifespans and have truly shaped the world. Very few other products have done this.

Instead things just get better. Even the most revolutionary of Apple products is just improving on what’s already there. Nothing special, just better. Just making things easier. Reducing the burden to enjoy life more. This is a noble pursuit.

People will use a product that reduces the burden of life and creates enjoyment either directly or through enhanced productivity. It feels good at the end of the day to kick back and appreciate today you could do more than you could yesterday. We crave that type of progress.

In the name of progress.

When building a product the best place to be at is in front of a line of clamoring customers. This is exceedingly rare. In normal situations, customers must be enticed and coerced. Prove that the product is Snake Oil free. All of that is very hard.

The challenge to convince customers that your product is legitimately going to enhance productivity and increase joy by decreasing burden seems insurmountable. It’s a confidence issue, and there are many products trying to sell that specific service. In reality it’s about word of mouth and passionate marketing.

Apple marrying technology and humanity stems from this notion. Passionate marketing is genuine marketing. It’s marketing by showing the product and showing how it reduces the burdens of life. It’s about demonstration and not convincing. Let the customers imagination work.

Sometimes, imaginations can be scary, though. They get away from you and you think about all the dangers. This should not be avoided! These worries can be a powerful motivator to sell and advertise a product, provided the product truly fits as a safeguard.

Previously I wrote about Superheroes ignoring wolves; accept that sometimes a wolf has to be eaten. There are good products that simply protect against scary wolves, and good products that do that as a by-product.

Taking these lessons and learning how to adapt my marketing materials is important. I can get more users and genuinely help people do better. No longer is uncharted and unkept habits a wolf to fear. I just need to productize this feeling.

On a related note, the Daily Practice mobile application will be hitting the Apple App Store in the next week or two.