I was once the chief marketing officer for a company whose CEO who was both incredibly tough and incredibly brilliant. We were developing a type of technology offering that was very new in the market and in what the Lean Startup gang and my Stanford colleague and serial entrepreneur, Steve Blank, would call that sloppy, iterative “customer development phase” of evolution. This is that point at which there are lots of possible ways to position the offering in lots of possible markets, and you’re trying to figure out which will get you the most traction the most quickly.
The CEO told me, “I want our customers to hear about this and get so excited, they say to themselves, “Well, I’ll be damned! We have to have one of those!”
And I thought, “Yes!” That’s a brilliant acid test for whether you have something you’ll be able to sell, even before you get out there and start testing it with prospective customers. And certainly, once you do start taking it around, that’s the reaction you want or else you know you have more work to do. The closer you are to an “I’ll be damned!” reaction, the easier it’s going to be to make your numbers each quarter. More importantly, your margins will be higher, because business impact will matter more to the buyer than cost.
So ask yourself: What would it take to get my customers to react with a “Well, I’ll be damned!…”?