Demand: Creating What People Love Before They Know They Want It by Adrian J. Slywotzky

Rate: *****

Read:  Cover to Cover

Category: Big Ideas, Marketing, Entrepreneurial

Well, it’s not very often (to be honest, never) have I put down my afternoon tea (sweet chai), jump off my reading chair (very, very, comfortable) and march over to my white board to write down something that I find so new, so important and so potentially business-life changing.  I wrote down one of Slywotzky’s terms in big bold black letters.  Of course, he had me at the very beginning of his opening: “We often think that demand comes from pulling the right levers: more marketing, better advertising, more aggressive sales efforts, distributing coupons, offering discounts.”  Right?  Isn’t that what we try to do?  Here it comes.  “But real demand is not about any of those things.  Demand creators spend all of their time trying to understand people.  They try to understand our aspirations, what we need, what we hate, what gives us an emotional charge – and most important what we might really love.”  Slywotzky (I wonder if his friends call him Sly?), takes us on a story filled journey of demand companies like ZipCar, Netflix and Kindle as well as dozens of others to deeply illustrate his concepts.  He describes the invisible line between the “ho-hum” and “I gotta have it.”  He does it seamlessly and he does it well, because he understands that readers like context.  But he really does it honestly.  He doesn’t sugar coat it and tell you how easy it is – quite the contrary, when you finish the read – all the companys’ backstories, he makes you say to yourself, “Damn it, this is going to be tough – but perhaps, just maybe I can create a demand product, or maybe I can incorporate a few ideas here to irrevocably change my biz.

Here’s my takeaway:

Here’s an example of how he amplifies by example that has stuck in my mind (Myth of the Average Consumer):  He recites a backstory of a manager for one of Amerca’s great symphony orchestras.  His job? To figure out how to attract a stream of customers who are willing to pay high ticket prices and make their way downtown to hear live performances of classical music – all in preference to any of the dozen other forms of entertainment.  “Get people through the doors!” is the traditional mantra.  The assumption is that, once people venture into the local symphony hall to hear a concert, the sheer beauty of the music will draw them back.  Ergo – more people, continuing attendance.  There’s only one problem, it isn’t so.  The problem is one-time visitors (he calls them trialists) never return.  In an effort to reduce the churn the new manager researched the trialists in order to  find out why.  Turns out, all the factor analysis for the symphony experience (78 different attributes from classical music experience to the architecture of the auditorium) were facscinating but counter-intuitive.  What was important?  At the top of the list was parking! The simple ability to travel to and from the concert hall with a minimum of fuss was the single most powerful “driver of revisitation.” It was the key demand trigger for trialists.  Of course, the subscriber never complained about parking, so why did they have to worry about it?  Because veteran members had devised their own travel solutions – eliminating parking from their hassel map.  Hassel map? 

That is the word I wrote down on my whiteboard.  Hassel Map.  This one concept, these two little words, could change your business.

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