By delivery, I don’t mean an elaborate marketing campaign. Garr Reynolds, author of “Presentation Zen”, uses the idea of an “elevator-test” to encourage presenters to keep their message simple. Essentially, if you were in an elevator and had to sell someone your idea in 30-45 seconds, would you be able to effectively convey your message? I feel the same basic concept is present in all innovative products, but products rarely get 30-45 seconds.
The idea of 15-second marketing parallels Reynolds’ with one key difference. You don’t get to convey your message, your product does. Truly innovative products must be able to market themselves. Your product has to be so simple, so intuitive, and so easy to understand that a person can fully grasp its purpose in about 15-30 seconds. What is Youtube? A place for users to upload videos. What is Facebook? A place for people to connect with friends. Sure these applications are more complex, but the ability for users to grasp and understand a product’s purpose with 15 seconds of interaction, a text-message, or a 140 character twitter post is key to modern consumers. Let’s consider Google vs. Yahoo!.
One home page has a single text box and a button that says, “Google Search”, the other has more eye-candy and graphics than I can count. If I have a friend who is new to computers and they look over my shoulder, I might say,
“This is Google, you use it to search the Internet.”
My friend would immediately know what to do when they visit google.com. With very little explanation they can use Google. Yahoo!, however, is a little less intuitive. When explaining Yahoo! to my friend I might say,
“This is Yahoo!, this is where you type in your search…No, you don’t have to worry about all the other stuff, just use this part for search. That other stuff is there just in case you want to use it.”
I’m not saying Yahoo! is bad–obviously they have been successful; but the page is full of distractions and eye-candy. Simply put, the interface is intimidating to new users. Intimidating products do not make very good innovative products. Google assumes you need search and gives you the option to add extras, Yahoo! assumes you need everything.
Simple design makes for simple delivery. If a consumer feels they must have your product after 15 seconds of interaction, you’re on your way towards innovation.