Trust the pain

Published on Oct 05, 2018


When you're building a new product or feature you should stay away from people who speak "positive" feelings. People who tell you your product is "cool" or "fun" are not your best customers. This is not problem-speak.

One of your priorities when building a new product or feature is making sure that you're not wasting your time. But how do you that? The best way is to listen to how your customers or potential ones talk about the problem and the solution.

Your best customers will be people for whom the specific problem you're trying to fix is a Tier-1 problem.

What is a Tier-1 problem?

A Tier-1 problem is one of the top 3 issues they are facing on a personal or professional level. We all have far more than 3 things that are complicating our lives, but we also dedicate the majority of our time and effort to fixing our most pressing problems.

They are problems that cause them real pain, for example by costing them money, slowing them down or affecting their personal/professional life in a big way.

When these people talk about these issues, the emotion is rooted in pain, in fear, in discomfort.
Problem-speak comes from pain. And that's what you want to hear.

"I desperately need to do X in less than 30 minutes."

"This is costing me too much, I'd pay good money for something that halves the cost."

'If you add this feature it will save my ass and I'm happy to pay double what I'm paying now to get it"

People who are experiencing a Tier-1 problem are always going to pay good money to fix it.
Look at every successful business. With some exceptions (eg: gambling, entertainment and food for example) they are all fixing a Tier-1 problem.

Remember: people don't buy vitamins, people buy painkillers.


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