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Why everybody is talking about your product and NO one is using it yet?

Very often I have seen some of the best product pitches which created a lot of ‘wow! that’s something’ and a few weeks down the line, you will find nobody actually using it.

Not just technology startups, but this is a general phenomena and the closest consumer example is 3G. Everybody talked about it, but very few are using it.

Y U NO Using?
Y U NO Using?

So what gives? Well, here are a few possible reasons:

1. The Target segment

Pinterest is among the most visited social sites on the web, but the company’s real success story is that they stayed away from mainstream media/ technology blogs in the US and focused on a segment which was totally disconnected from tech blogs etc, i.e. the women consumer segment. The company knew that the target segment isn’t visiting Techcrunch/GigaOM and stayed away from the ‘wow’ praises.

Now take a look at some of the startups who focused their efforts on wooing a totally wrong segment (geeks/tech blog readers and confused them with the actual user of their product (read: Personas)).

2. You sold the stairway to heaven (without the staircase).

A lot and I seriously mean that a lot of startups tend to announce the entire feature set roadmap (“You can also do this”) in the first release without having the feature set ready. And the result? Users hop to the service with high expectations and all you see is a basic/poor implementation of the promised service.

The key is to match the expectation and under-promise the experience. When Vista was launched, Microsoft allotted $500mn for marketing the product which had severe compatibility issues – i.e. it was not even technically ready for the launch, but Microsoft still promised the skies.


3. You announced it too early.

Remember Nokia product launches? A lot of fanfare with no mention of launch date/price. By the time, product hits the market the buzz is already over.
So next time do you want that press mention/demo slot when all you have is a presentation file and NO real product?

What’s the *call to action* for the target user? Visit your LaunchRock page?


4. Because the herd needs to be heard.

GTM (Go To Market) for a fresh product is a lot about seeding the content. Reddit founders admitted to creating fake profiles and seeding the site with great content (sets standard for others).

On the other hand, being praised by the crowd makes one focus less on seeding the product (the corollary is that great praises will convert to usage as well).

And we humans have a tendency to wait for others to initiate the discussion and not start fishing in a dry river

In fact, Quora is a great example of a product which was driven by queen honey bees which resulted in diverse segments of people using it.

In short, do not assume that praise during launch will convert to usage.

Launch=Success is (misunderstood) phenomena associated with BIG companies (read: massive traffic fall) and startups need to run when the sun comes up. Every damn day.

“It doesn’t matter if you are the lion or the gazelle, when the sun comes up, you better be running.”

What are your thoughts? Why do you not use a certain product even though you like it a lot?
Importantly, do you praise for a product because its cool to do that (a sort of peer pressure)?

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