How to Create a Fail-Proof Online Product

By: Shama Hyder

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I am usually not a huge fan of the traditional “internet gurus” because often their message feels hype-filled to me. I have found very FEW actually deliver on their promises.

However, I ran into some great video by Eben Pagan the other day. Just 45 minutes of very good online marketing advice. No pushy sales pitches. If you like, you can see the video here.

My favorite part of the video was when he gave advice on how to create a fail-proof online product. Or at least shared how to dramatically increase its chances of being successful. Now, here is a guy who has done TONS of product launches, so he knows what he is taking about.

Here are his 3 recommended questions to ask yourself plus my 2-bit.

1. Is there an irrational desire or urgent pain? Before you create (or worse…launch) your product, ask yourself this question. Does your product solve an URGENT pain or fulfill an irrational desire? Eben shares the example of video games. They don’t always make sense, but there are PLENTY of video game fanatics out there.

I’d say that Tim Ferris’ book, The 4 Hour Work Week, did a good job of capitalizing on an irrational desire. People want to work less and earn more. That’s an irrational desire. The social media marketing eBook I am madly working on these days will aim to solve an urgent pain for anyone who is frustrated with how to make the most of social media sites from a business perspective. Does your product solve an urgent pain or feed an irrational desire?

2. Are your prospects ACTIVELY looking for a solution? I see a LOT of people make this mistake when they start out in the online world. Let’s say that “Sam” starts a social media site because he sees how successful Facebook and Linked-In are. But, what would compel people to join his site? Unless he has a VERY unique angle that people are craving, the venture will fail. Because people aren’t actively looking for one more social media site to join.

Or, let’s take “Jane’s” example. Jane decides to sell shoe polish online. But, what if no one is looking?Creating desire for a product is MUCH harder than catering to a current demand.

How do you determine demand? By using keyword search tools to see what people are searching for, and how many times a keyword or phrase is being searched for. A good tool in this case is Word Tracker. Another good tool that just came to market is Market Samurai. (I just got it yesterday, so I am still playing with it. So far, so great!).

3. Does your prospect have NO or very FEW perceived options? In other words, are you playing in a blue ocean or a red ocean? A red ocean is a metaphor for a niche that’s filled with blood-thirsty sharks. There is just TOO much competition. A circus is a good example of a red ocean. Too many entertainment choices are really drawing crowds away from what used to be the ONLY American form of live entertainment-the circus.

A blue ocean is where you create your own category. Cirque Du Soleil created a NEW category. They combined circus theatrics with classical music. They turned the circus into an art form. They are no competitors, because you have managed to differentiate yourself so brilliantly. By the way, I HIGHLY recommend you read Blue Ocean Strategy once in your lifetime. It’s a classic and contains many more examples of blue ocean categories.

So, what are your thoughts on online products?

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  • Suzan Schmitt: The Coach Marketer

    Very good post! So many people try to start a business without thinking about who they are serving and how they will serve them. Information like this helps people start out the right way.

  • Michele Price

    Great post, I love the examples and links to explore more from your suggestions.

    Looking forward to next one!

  • Dobes Vandermeer

    I like the point about the “irrational desire” – this is all to often forgotten in the startup world, where there’s always a focus on the urgent pain.

  • Brent Hodgson

    Thanks for the mention of Market Samurai – I’m glad you’re enjoying it. :)

    You’re right about “fishing where the fish are hungry”

    Speaking of looking for the questions that people are asking online – Wordtracker released a tool in their lab recently that finds these questions. It’s well worth a look.


    P.S. – Great picture of the Bondi Beach sea baths in Sydney – looks idyllic, doesn’t it?

    It’s 71.6 degrees F there today, and probably looks a lot like that right now. Typical Australian Christmas weather down here.

  • Joel Helbling

    Hi Shama, great post, this is real food for thought. Your observation about social networking sites is a good one; those have been flopping by the dozen in the last year or two.

    It seems to me that there are still some red ocean opportunities; perhaps not as a shark, but certainly as a remora.

    Rather than squaring off with Facebook, MySpace or Twitter, why not find a niche to fill in the eco-system created by the bigger players? Online social networking has changed people’s online behaviors, and this change is ongoing. Anytime users’ behaviors change, new pains (and irrational desires) are created, and thus new opportunities arise. The rate at which such opportunities are created is simply too rapid (and each opportunity may be too small) that Facebook will never be able to go after them all.

    Perhaps I’ve really switched back to talking about blue oceans, but then again, maybe real-life blue oceans in the business world are like the legendary four hour work week :)

    Anyway, really enjoyed your post.