Note to CMO:

What’s important? There is one thing that is more important than all the rest. What is it?

Are you in the market to buy a new laptop? What’s important? Is it battery life? Can you live without an integrated webcam and wifi access? What about screen size? A DVD player? Answer this: what is the one thing that you hate about laptops. For me, I hate laptops because I can’t type on them. I need to dock them before I can unload what’s on my mind without re-typing all my typos. It’s all about the keyboard. For me, at least.

The second problem is weight. I remember boarding a flight to go home from Vegas from a CES show. The last guy to board the plane had the middle seat next to me. He lugged his briefcase under the seat, breathed a heavy sigh of relief, and said to no one in particular, “God, my laptop is heavy…” The nearest twenty people all turned around and spontaneously shared their grief and frustration at this phenomenon. We even coined the phrase, “laptop elbow” to describe the tendonitis that comes from lugging that much steel around.

Why did PDA’s become part of the standard business uniform? How did, “I Blackberry Because I Am” become the mantra of modern life? PDA’s were originally surgically attached to our hips because laptops had too much stuff. Wireless email was what was important. I can check my email and be completely caught up between the time the plane lands and when my foot hits the carpet of the gate area.

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Key Takeaways:

> There is one thing more important than all the rest in whatever you’re making, marketing, and selling. Do you know what it is?

> What is the thing that makes people cringe about your product category? How do you design around it?

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If you were out to reinvent a category, what would you do?

If you were designing toothpaste for kids, would it be fun colors and sugary taste or would it be a cap you never lose and a way for them to know if they brushed well?

I’m not sure that the product development process over at Acme Corporation takes this into consideration. “Need to Have” product specs make their way to the final bill of materials because arch nemesis, Mega Corp., thought of it in their last refresh. Thus begets industry and product sameness.

If we all took a fresh look at this and really thought about what was important — and what was truly, maddeningly frustrating, we’d probably do a much better job exploiting these seams. As I said up top about laptops, it’s all about the keyboard for me, but I may be an outlier. Knowing what that one thing is to your monster users, your influencers, and your undecideds is worth discovering.


Copyright (c) 2007