A while ago I invited my yoga instructor out for coffee and to just chat. I wanted to ask her how she ran her classes, identified struggling students (and exemplary students).
I was very surprised at the conversation. Many of her issues were incredibly similar to the challenges I’ve experienced developing software products. At first I thought this was that I have these problems, it seems everybody else does (Availability Heuristic.) Just like after you buy a car, you notice how many are on the road.
As I listened to her more, and more important to her discuss methodology and how she understands the class, my concerns about being biased faded away. She’s selling a tangible service, certainly, rather than a software product but what she is creating is an experience her students go through each class.
That experience is why she’s successful and why I go to her, and rarely to other teachers.
Her classes aren’t for everyone though, and part of her struggle is finding the students she is compatible with. She must pairthe experience she offers with those who want it, and that isn’t always obvious.
There’s another well-known and respected yoga teacher in the area. I’ve never even taken his class, but just by watching I knew it isn’t for me. That’s ok, there isn’t anything wrong with him or the class, it’s a simple incompatibility.
Building a great product or a service is really about building an experience. If you read Purple Cow you can be encouraged to think that the audience you want is out there. I certainly believe it is, but that encouragement is going to start having fear creep in.
It’s the fear that I’m missing an opportunity. It’s loss aversion, thinking if we extend ourselves, or add more features and bells and whistles we’ll get more people.
In the end, we’ll drive away those who we relate to and still not appeal to the people we try to reach. Stay true, deliver the experience you want to deliver, and don’t think that anything is lost.
An audience isn’t being lost, an experience is being gained.