That's the question companies need to ask when building new products. Quality is ubiquitous. The noise is deafening. No longer can you rely on an amazing product. You have to create a strong brand. In fact, your brand is more important than ever. You need to stand for something that matters to the people that matter to your success. Ignore that and you will be ignored. That's hardly good for business.
In the SaaS world, the stakes are high. Currently there are 8,500 marketing software products alone. That’s up from 500 a decade ago.
This is partly due to the tools for developing software. No-code, while still relatively nascent, is growing and making it even easier. Combine that with the ease of implementation, which has gone down from 57 hours to 7 hours over 10 years, and it’s much easier to switch. That makes customer retention more difficult and more important to your longevity.
Subscription businesses are the holy grail today. In fact, read Subscribed by Tien Tzuo, and you may think it’s the only viable future for most businesses.
How you win is by knowing who you serve and why. Get as close as you can to your customers. Understand their pains, hopes and dreams. And make sure your product solves them better than anyone. You get close by creating an amazing brand they’re fanatical about. They’re fanatical because you listen and respond to what’s most important to them. Not you.
It’s hard to get excited about 1s and 0s. But it’s easy to get excited about someone who cares about you. Be that kind of company. You don’t know your customers if you don’t talk with them. You don’t know them by assuming you think you do. People like to feel a part of something larger. They like to help in your success. And by talking with them, showing you’re listening by delivering what they need most, they’ll want to keep helping you because it helps them too.
Cutting your price to win people over is still a losing proposition. Customers will pay for value. They’ll pay you for making their lives better and more profitable. They’ll pay you for saving them time. That generous discount goes out the window if your product doesn’t deliver. Or if your brand doesn’t deliver. And someone else is always waiting to seize your business.
I often talk about how competition is actually irrelevant. That what’s more important is what you stand for and why. That when you focus incessantly on your competition you’re more likely to follow than lead. And find yourself chasing to catch up. It’s not that black and white though. Competition is a real threat. You need to be aware of who they are and why. But don’t be laser focused on them. Be laser focused on your customer. Be laser focused on creating a brand that rises above the noise. That’s how you’ll beat your competition and make them LESS relevant.
No brand is invincible.
I don’t believe that Amazon and Facebook have no threats. I’ve written before how the average life of a Fortune 500 is 15 years down from 75. While it seems a herculean task for anyone to overtake any of the big technology companies, no one knows what the future holds. At Amazon every day is “Day One”. They recognize this.
What’s certain, is change and commoditization of everything is happening faster and faster. Cool features are no longer enough to win customers. They’re expected. You need something more. You need a brand people love and want to be a part of inside and out. A brand that is both timeless and timely. It’s hard work. But that’s the art of business that complements the science.
What makes you care?