Tag Archives: business-plan

A “Felt Need” Is What Makes Us Buy

A “felt need” is what differentiates a vitamin from an aspirin: when we crave something (relief from pain), a product that satisfies that desire becomes a must-have rather than a nice-to-have. Realising this and re-framing a product in terms of this craving is an important step in ensuring a product’s success, say Dan and Chip Heath, authors of the excellent Switch and Made to Stick.

Becoming aware of this idea is what led to the success of Netflix and NetApp… as well as the demise of countless other companies. In a brief article describing how re-framing a nice-to-have product as a must-have is all about discovering and exploiting a specific “felt need”, the Heaths look at Ray Bards failed attempt at getting his “vitamin” book published and how realizing this idea of a felt need led him to become a successful publisher.

If entrepreneurs want to succeed […] they’d better be selling aspirin rather than vitamins. Vitamins are nice; they’re healthy. But aspirin cures your pain; it’s not a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have. […]

That aspirin quality is what Bard now looks for in a book. He says that successful books address a deep “felt need” — that is, readers hunger for the answers the book provides. Classic examples would be diet books, personal-finance books, and books that promise you mega success if you’ll just radiate positive energy to the universe, indicating your receptivity to mega success. Bard has become a talented diviner of felt need. Fully half of the books that he publishes become best sellers. […]

You’ve heard the old saying “If you invent a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door.” Don’t bet on it. The world’s felt need isn’t for a better mousetrap. It’s for a dead mouse. […]

When engineers or marketers or entrepreneurs get too close to their products, it’s easy to mistake a vitamin for an aspirin. If your team is flirting with delusion, a little love might point you in the right direction.

Icon-Based Business Plans

Depending on who you listen to, a business plan is either a waste of your time or an essential document. A good compromise could be Peter Hilton’s idea to create a concise, icon-based business plan visualisation:

Inspired by the simplicity and success of the Creative Commons icons, which condense pages of information that no one ever reads into an easily-understandable symbol accompanied by a sentence of text, Peter proposes to apply that exact same logic to business plans. In reality many submitted business plans are simply not read by investors – they are too long, too boring, or too convoluted. Naturally, the entrepreneurs who write them want to go into as much detail as possible in their plans while the investors that read them just want to see the very core points.

In his talk presenting the idea (pdf, local mirror), Hilton proposes a series of icon-description pairs for a number of business plan sections:

  • About the team (e.g. We can build the product – our CTO is a genius).
  • The idea (e.g. We plan to execute a proven concept).
  • The product or service (e.g. We have a demo or prototype).
  • Revenue models (e.g. We plan to monetise our service later on).
  • Funding (e.g. We need series A funding).
  • Partnerships (e.g. We need an investor with a business network).
  • Return on investment (e.g. We have a cash-flow prognosis).

The idea was apparently not intended to be taken seriously, but it seems to solve a problem.

Update: Hilton’s now created the Plan Cruncher.