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Set us up to use your product

So there you are. You've finished your product/song/art/book/creation and are ready to share it with the world. You tweet, write blog and Facebook posts, and invite people to like your creation. But the results are lackluster. The world doesn't stop to pay attention to what you built. The world keeps moving and your creation is left behind.

I had a taste of this when my band finished our album in 2012. I packaged all the songs into a ZIP file and sent the link via individual private messages to 100 Facebook friends. I added a personal note to each message to make it more personal. And yet only a handful of people downloaded the music, and even fewer listened to it. I wasn't asking them to buy the music, I was giving it to them for free. And yet only a handful took the time to listen. I didn't recognize it at the time, but I had created too many blockers between my audience and the product.

To hear the music you first had to download a ZIP file. Most people read the message on their phones, and so they couldn't take action when I had their attention. In Facebook the message was marked 'read', and so they would have to remember the next time they were at their computer to reopen my message and download the file. I had multiple people tell me they forgot about the message after first opening it. For those that did download the ZIP file, they would have to unzip it, and listen on their computer. Or they could transfer the songs to their iPod/iPhone and remember to listen to them at a later time.

I could have greatly simplified things by just sending a link to a YouTube video of the full album. One experience has a large barrier to entry, and the other has almost none.

Remember, people are busy. They are on an express train heading to their destination. Paying attention to your product is an unexpected stop. And it's hard to unexpectedly stop an express train.

If right now you messaged me your band's music in a ZIP file, I probably wouldn't listen to it (because of all the steps involved). I have an overflowing to-do list and I'm currently not accepting any new additions.

By not thinking through the steps I need to take to experience your product, you set yourself up for failure. You're putting trust in my time management, in my organization, in my level of interest, in me. And I'm not trustworthy when it comes to trying your product.

Given that, it's your responsibility to make it as easy or timely as possible for me to experience your product. Whether it's clicking a link and starting (easy, note it's not clicking a link and making an account, that's hard), or getting your link when I have 5 minutes to kill waiting in line (timely). It's your responsibility to set me up for success.

I'm paying the price of allocating my time to your product. You pay the price of making it as easy and tension free for me.

Say you just released an app that would help me discover trending podcast episodes based on my interests. With the proliferation of podcasts this is a product I would be interested to use. Your responsibility is to think through all the possible scenarios that would lead me to trying your product. It's not enough to just launch in the app store and write a blog post. Even though I have the "pain" of finding a timely podcast episode to listen to, the pain is not big enough to warrant me to search for a new product in the app store. I'm not going to hit the emergency break on my express train to go search for your app.

Assume the best case scenario that I do see your app on Product Hunt, or I do see it in the app store. Will I have time at that moment that I will be willing to allocate to try your app? Will I identify with the problem at that moment? If I don't, is that the last time I'll hear about your app? If I don't hear about it again, I wont use it.

But if the app  keeps appearing on my radar, eventually it may resonate. The thing that resonates is different across people. To one user seeing the app trending on Product Hunt may be the catalyst. For me it's typically hearing someone I respect talk about it. If they rave about it, describe how it's had a positive experience on X because of Y, I'll connect with that. I'll realize how my life can improve because I've now realized I have the problem your product can solve.

Creating your product is only one step in the long unpredictable journey for builders. But once you have it, make as much noise as you can about it, and make it as easy as possible for someone to try it.

Set us up for success.