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Reblogged:Don't Just Emulate Experts ...

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Build Your Products for Them

I have given favorable mention to Alex Epstein's Human Flourishing Project podcast series here from time to time. One of the more important general takeaways from that series has been to seek out and learn from experts in those areas of life you want to improve. (This is not easy: It can be hard to know that someone really is an expert!)

Over at Medium comes an intriguing application of that kind of advice to the problem of software design, in an essay by Prachi Nain. Its title is "Stop Designing Products for Random People: Focus on the High-Expectation Customer, the Most Organic Way to Build and Scale a Product." The idea that there can be overlap between design and marketing was intriguing enough to cause this writer to wonder what Jain means by a "high expectation customer" (an idea that she notes she did not originate). Here is her definition:
The High-Expectation Customer (HXC) is a 3-in-1 customer who is a benefiter (Someone who is going to benefit the most from your product), a hacker (Someone who is using multiple hacks to solve the problem), and an expert (People aspire to emulate her).
Jain explains why it is important to design for this customer better than I can, but I think a big part of this can be gleaned from her advice on conceptualizing and identifying HXCs:
If you want to make a better shoe, talk to some really serious runners. (Image by Gemma Evans, via Unsplash, license.)
A sure shot way of identifying your HXC is getting a yes to at least two of these questions:
  • After using your product, will the person get better at {something that's a big deal for this person e.g. saving money, running faster, improving brain health}?
  • Is the person already looking for solutions for the problem you are trying to solve?
  • Do others see this person as someone who's not just a usual {coffee drinker, tourist, employee} but more of a {coffee geek, traveler, gig economy worker}?
We can't always get lucky finding a complete 3-in-1. Don't go looking for one person who's a complete hacker, benefiter, and expert. Instead, hunt for these traits in potential customers and build upon your HXC profile. You might stumble upon people who are somewhat hackers, likely benefiters, and total experts, or with any other permutation or combination.
It is not hard to see a beneficial positive feedback loop developing here. Building a profile of this type of customer focuses early efforts. Such customers, having a vested interest in the product, will offer useful suggestions that can lead to improvements (rather than, say, post an angry review and quit). And people who know such customers and see them using the product will want to try it themselves, building the customer base.

-- CAV

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