Less is more

The mission statement of our start-up company has been gradually evolving. Because our technology came out of a University research mind-set, for the longest time we were focused mainly on how cool and innovative our technology was.

When people would ask us what our product does, we would describe our ingenious technology, and talk about how amazing it was. People would then inevitably ask “So what’s it good for?”

That was always a tough moment, because when you’re the proud parent of a fancy new technology, you find it hard to believe that people don’t already see it the same way you do. Maybe, you think, they are asking the question rhetorically, since the answer is so obvious.

A good analogy might be showing photos of your newborn baby. Obviously everybody in the world is going to take one look at your kid’s darling face and realize that this is the most beautiful and brilliant child in the entire world. And if they don’t, then clearly they are complete morons.

This, my friends, is not the best energy out of which to create a successful marketing strategy.

What you gradually realize — and this can take quite a while — was that other people will not fall in love with your baby on first sight. But people will respond to a clear story about how your baby might grow up to help the world become a better place.

Now, here’s the really tricky part: When you tell that story, you need to leave out almost all of it. You may know that your technology is capable of solving a million different problems. But you need to talk about only one problem — one very focused problem that is clearly out there in the world, and that your technology can help with.

All of those other cool things? Take them off the table. This is a case where less is more. A single narrative, one market focus, a well defined group of customers and users — that’s the only story the world is capable of hearing about your wondrous little hatchling.

And what if your little baby chick one day grows up and happens to accomplish other great things as well? Well, nobody is going to complain. But that’s only going to happen if it manages to leave the nest.

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