As they say, if you want to succeed, fail often.
However another strategy works even better: Learn from the failure of others.
Sounds simple in theory, but how exactly do you get first hand knowledge of other people’s failures?
Most people/companies keep their failures private and don’t blog or post them on Facebook for all to see.
For me, the simple trick I use in discovering how to benefit from the failure of others is to examine what the successful ARE DOING versus what they ARE NOT DOING.
In other words, examine the most successful companies (or people) and reverse engineer their public tactics.
Dig into their strategy, their marketing copy, and their products. Find out what they’re doing because if they’re doing it, you’re most likely exposing weeks, months, or years of their trial-and-error, or trial-and-failure.
You effectively, are leveraging their failures.
So when it comes to the internet, wouldn’t it make sense to examine the strategy tactics of one of history’s most successful internet companies… Google?
For example, Google recently announced it’s “Google Fiber” service — a high speed internet service that is sure to rival your local cable or satellite provider.
In its offering, I reconfirmed 4 Fastlane startup tips for new companies — for some of you — they will be new.
Google Fiber, available only in Kansas City, caught my interest on a multitude of Fastlane fronts. I spent about 15 minutes examining the whole offering.
If we reverse engineer the offering and put it into actionable items for a Fastlane process, here is what you get.
1) The Offer
The default page for the offer (About Us) is benefit driven. In fact, it is overloaded with benefits: No more waiting, tons of HD channels, huge recording ability, and more. The OFFER specifically explains WHAT’S IN IT FOR YOU — it lays out the value and translates features into benefits.
The feature: 1000MB per second
The benefit: No more waiting, get what you want instantaneously!
Google does the leg work and tells you EXACTLY WHY this is important by translating the feature to a benefit.
REFLECTION: Is your offering laid out in clear, easy to read benefits? Are you telling your potential customers exactly WHY THEY NEED YOU? Or are you overworking your users with technical, numerical jargon that requires translation? No one cares that your internet connection is 1000MB fast — people do care that the latest Lady Gaga song can be downloaded in 1/4 of a second.
2) The Value
On the plans and pricing page, it outlines THE VALUE by giving you 3 easy options. It took me about 6 seconds to calculate that Google Fiber is an incredible value and would save me probably $100/mo for 10X the service.
In other words, I WANT IT. (Note to gurus: I don’t care if Google Fiber’s management is “doing what they love” – NEED and DEMAND don’t care.)
The value proposition to me, the consumer, is a home run.
REFLECTION: Is your value proposition to the consumer, a home run? Or a duck snort just over the shortstop for a single? Exceptional value propositions are driven by exceptional products.
3) The Confirmation of Demand
To get the Fiber service in your neighborhood, Google asks you to pre-register by completing a simple form AND by paying a $10, pre-registration fee.
They explain with this:
We’re building our Google Fiber network by demand—fiberhoods that meet their pre-registration goal will get Fiber service. The $10 pre-registration fee is an advance payment towards your first bill. If your fiberhood doesn’t qualify by September 9, we will refund the money. However, if you pre-register and you decide that you don’t want Google Fiber after your fiberhood qualifies, you won’t get your money back.
I was surprised about the $10 fee but it does something remarkable: It tells Google that people are serious.
Many times, entrepreneurs launch a product or service and everyone says “That’s AWESOME!” or “What a great idea!” but when it comes down to opening up their wallet and PAYING for it, no one does.
Google is confirming demand FIRST before allocating investment dollars to a particular city.
For example, in this article by Startup America, a seasoned entrepreneur exclaims that
“There is a big difference between prospects who say ‘I love what you’re doing’ and those who say ‘I love what you’re doing and here’s my credit card.”
By taking a $10 registration fee, Google is CONFIRMING the demand.
Understand this: A customer who says they’d buy your product and a customer who says they’d buy your product AND give you a credit card are two totally different customer segments.
REFLECTION: If you’re in launch phase of your product or service, have you CONFIRMED demand by lining up PAYING customers who have come to the point of departure with their ca$h? Or are your customers just apparitions: friends and family who’ve graciously served you up with some positive platitudes … “Great idea Bill!” … “Awesome!” … positive platitudes don’t pay bills.
4) Spreading the Word
In order to benefit from Google Fiber, you need to get your city lined up. Google spearheads the movement by telling potential customers to “rally your neighbors.” If enough interest is generated, Google will invest $ into your city.
• Your fiberhood needs to reach its pre-registration goal in order to qualify for Fiber, so encourage your neighbors to pre-register too.
• Once your fiberhood qualifies, continue to rally your neighbors. The order of construction within your city will be determined by pre-registration rankings on September 9th.
All this “rallying” by you; sharing on Twitter/FB, URL linking, etc, is FREE advertising for Google. They receive free publicity, spread the word, and receive priceless feedback regarding demand. Will Fiber catch on? Will Fiber be advertised on it’s competition’s website?
Ha ha, well, it already has… as seen here on the front page of Yahoo.
REFLECTION: Is your product, or value proposition, good enough that it would compel you to tell your neighbors? Facebook shareable? Tweetable?
To conclude, learning is not just about experience and the experience of failure, but about observation.
Examine those who have succeeded, and are succeeding.
What are they doing?
Speed up your own success by reverse engineering the learning curves of those who are already successful.
Good luck and onward…
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