Excerpted from Jason Fried:
…every marketer we met with was focused on one thing: customer acquisition… But the more I spoke with all of these talented and passionate marketers, the more I realized that I wasn’t interested in what they had to offer. In fact, I found myself thinking less about new customers than about our existing ones.
The way I see it, I can spend a lot of time and money trying to persuade a bunch of newcomers to try Basecamp. Or I can spend a lot less effort helping current customers get more out of something they’ve already purchased and enjoy using. As I said at the outset, sales take care of themselves when you put out a great product and treat your customers with the ultimate respect.
Or, to put it another way: If you take care of your existing customers, they will take care of your new customers.
Note how this dovetails with Sam Altman’s view that “All companies that grow really big do so in only one way: people recommend the product or service to other people.”
Excerpted from Sam Altman:
All companies that grow really big do so in only one way: people recommend the product or service to other people.
What this means is that if you want to be a great company some day, you have to eventually build something so good that people will recommend it to their friends–in fact, so good that they want to be the first one to recommend it to their friends for the implied good taste. No growth hack, brilliant marketing idea, or sales team can save you long term if you don’t have a sufficiently good product.
You can trick yourself for awhile, though: growth is measured on a percentage basis from last month. When you are still small, you can spend a lot of money marketing or advertising and have a big impact on usage growth. But eventually, you get so big you simply can’t spend enough money to move the needle–you need your ever-increasing userbase to keep getting you more users.
“Here’s advice I wish I had three years ago”, writes Ryan Hoover. Of the 30 pieces of advice, here are the 7 most relevant to product managers:
- Don’t be so clever. Obvious is usually the better product decision.
- Have a vision and thesis of the future but don’t overshoot the market, ignoring what people ask for today.
- Product complexity isn’t just a technical burden but an education hurdle for customers and new hires. Just because it’s easy to implement doesn’t mean it isn’t costly.
- The last 5% often makes all the difference.
- Engage and include engineering very early in the product design process.
- In the words of Kanye, “Everything I’m not, made me everything I am.” If you’re saying “no” infrequently, you’re probably making bad product decisions.
- Product design and usability is important for any product. B2B companies don’t get a pass. They serve people too.
From Ev Williams:
Any big idea is going to take a while to get there… by definition if it’s big and no one has done it before it’s not going to be 1, 2, 3 – we got it. There is going to be a dark period in there because you don’t know what the key to get in there is.
On which Antony Kuzmicich comments:
Lean startups often rapidly reach a local-maximum product which does not deliver product/market fit. They give up on their original idea and pivot – missing out on a massive opportunity. Pivoting will allow the startup to explore a different space, but they’re just as likely to produce a local-maximum product there and repeat the process.
If we believe in our ideas we should be prepared to properly explore the spaces they inhabit before giving up on them.
Facebook (FB) CFO David Ebersman recently noted that “[We] did see a decrease in daily users specifically among younger teens.“ On which Alistair Hill, CEO of On Device Research, commented:
With the social graph being built into the address books of our mobile devices, freely accessible for all messaging platforms, the barriers to entering the market are tumbling down.
From Naval Ravikant:
Before product-market fit, find passion-market fit.
Building a product is a process, not a discrete action. And the Internet is efficiently arbitraged. Every single simple thing that can be done is being done, or has been done. The lesson of history is that product-market fit is very precise—one wrong tweak or slightly bad timing and you can miss the whole thing.
So the only way you’re likely to find product-market fit is if you’re almost irrationally obsessed with the market and if you’ve been working on it for a long time. Where the journey is the reward. Then, you’re likely to have unique insights (in the details) and consistent execution, through thick and thin, to find fit.
Often, the best companies are ones where the product is an extension of the founder’s personality…
Is passion about obsessing over the details more than anyone else? I’m not sure. Perhaps passion enables you to understand broad needs and opportunities in a way that someone without passion cannot. And that’s why first time entrepreneurs shouldn’t be worried.
From Matter, the long-form journalist startup acquired by Medium:
It’s not only readers who are intolerant of paywalls: other media organizations are, too. When you’re subscription-only, you have to do a lot of legwork to make your stories marketable: the sort of thing that could be picked up by other outlets. We think our stories are, generally, pretty newsworthy… But it turns out that other outlets—from major news outlets to solo expert bloggers, and everywhere in between—are pretty reticent to write about, syndicate, or even link to, paywalled material. We’ve had some good support from partners like The Guardian and The Atlantic, but those relationships are hard to build.
This was a problem that we also grappled with inside Seeking Alpha. How could we create a valuable subscription product without reducing the ubiquitous mindshare we have among investors, and the distribution and exposure which we provide to our contributors?
The solution we came up with was unique to the finance vertical: We’d give our paying subscribers an early look at the best investment ideas in Seeking Alpha, and exclusive access to single-stock articles 30 days after publication. Neither the “early look” nor the archive paywall meaningfully reduce our mindshare or the exposure we provide to our contributors.
It turns out that the archive is extremely valuable to analysts and portfolio managers who are researching stocks — it’s become a must-have equity research platform. And the growth of our subscription business will allow us to pay our contributors more.