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“Your scientists were so preoccupied with thinking about if they could do it they never stopped to think if they should”
I find myself thinking about this quote a lot lately. Modern technology has made a lot of things a lot easier. From traveling across the country to having groceries delivered to your door. In some cases, the level of effort is so low that we're tempted to do it without a second thought, without thinking if we should. And sometimes that's great.
During the pandemic, when I was home with two kids under 4, by myself for 14 hours a day while my wife was working tirelessly as a nurse at a hospital, the fact that I could have dinner delivered from anywhere was a Godsend. But it was less of a Godsend later when I Doordashed a single pint of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream.
That sort of frictionless launch has come to WordPress and web development in general with the advent of no-code solutions. And even before that, WordPress dramatically decreased the level of effort for me to create formerly complex sites like an e-commerce store or a membership area. And again, that can be a Godsend. The less friction in starting an actual business, the better. Much like Doordash, it's easier for you to put food on your table. (Doordash isn’t a sponsor, but if you're listening, DoorDash, reach out!).
But again, for many people like me, when an idea strikes, it's easy to drop everything else that you're doing and spend a couple of days coding or building a solution. This is the “I'm going to pay $15 to have a 1300 calorie pint of ice cream delivered at 10:00 PM because I want it” of online projects.
If you're actually going to try and build a business off of this idea, should you whimsically work on it and release it to the world without a second thought? Should you be focused on if you could and never stopped to think if you should? I would argue “No”. In fact, I would argue that crafting a story is more important than crafting the actual product at first.
Hey, everybody. And welcome to WP Review. A show that provides analysis on what's happening in WordPress and what it means for users and business owners in the ecosystem. This podcast is brought to you by GoDaddy Pro. My name is Joe Casabona. And today, we are completing the trilogy that is the “Building a Better Business” series.
Now, in the last two episodes, we talked about understanding your customers and being prepared to serve them. Now, I'm going to tell you that you need a story to illustrate those two points. And to do that, let's talk about Yacht Rock. If you're unfamiliar, Yacht Rock is cheesy 70s soft rock that most contemporaries would consider, (well, not very good music).
If I said to you, “Hey, do you wanna listen to this playlist I made of 40-year-old soft Rock?” You might say, “No, that music is not for me.”
But when I say, “Hey, let's grab a beer or your favorite beverage and listen to my Yacht Rock playlist.” Well, that sounds like a pretty good hangout. It's relaxing, carefree- even.
Calling crappy soft rock from the 70s “Yacht Rock” immediately puts a story behind it which is why we've seen a resurgence of it recently. The story is what gives it stickiness.
And now let's look at a slightly less ridiculous example. Apple and Apple commercials. Back in December, I wrote about Apple's 2021 holiday commercial, Saving Simon. If you've never seen it, I recommend it. But be sure to have a tissue nearby. This commercial like many of their commercials invokes a feeling. You don't even see the iPhone in the commercial. You're just told that this commercial is shot on an iPhone.
But now you feel that you could capture these beautiful moments as beautiful as they look on the screen if only you had an iPhone. Compare that with the latest Galaxy Ultra Commercial. Sia’s “Unstoppable” is blaring over flashy graphics. And then we get a feature list including the text “4nm processor” (that's a four-nanometer processor) that flashes on the screen. The problem is that most people don't know nor care what a four-nanometer processor means or is, or how it helps them.
But what if instead they still had the unstoppable motif, but it was a story. The story's protagonist is a young woman who's starting a business. She's taking stellar photos and videos to put on her website which she can update right from her phone on that gigantic screen. Then cut to her typing some notes with a person that she's meeting in a coffee shop. She's showing that person some of those same photos that she's taken then they shake hands and she brings up a contract. She takes the pen out of the phone and the person that she's meeting signs the contract right then and there. Maybe the person even pays by tapping the phone. The commercial ends with Sia singing, “I'm unstoppable today.”
That probably makes you feel something more than seeing the words four-nanometer processor on the screen, right.
But what does all of this mean for you? Well, we'll get to that after a word from our sponsor.
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All right. Now, let's turn back to the WordPress space. A couple of weeks ago on Twitter, I asked people to finish this sentence: “When I get an idea, I…”
Most people who answered that question said, “Buy a domain”.
I'm here to tell you that you don't need to buy that domain yet. You don't need that wireframe.
Hell, you don't even need a landing page, yet.
You need a story.
Over the previous two episodes in this series, we talked about understanding your customers and being prepared by anticipating their needs.
Crafting a story is how you illustrate that. You make your potential customers feel something: happiness, sadness, pain, frustration, glee. Anything that will allow you to resonate with them.
You work on your product or service. You work it into the story as alleviation of that pain as a booster for that happiness.
The iPhone will allow you to capture those beautiful family moments. The Galaxy Ultra will make you unstoppable. Yacht Rock brings a carefree, let's just hang out atmosphere wherever you play it.
The problem with crafting a story first is it's a lot harder than making a prototype for us technical folks. Why can't we just build it and let the people come? Because like I said earlier, no one cares about specific features. They wanna know if you can solve a problem. If you can make them feel that feeling just like I didn't care how the plumber installed our faucet. I just cared that within an hour of him coming to my house the faucet didn't leak anymore. I felt relief.
Your story is the thing that communicates your solution. When you craft the story first, you're not worried about features or how you built it because you haven't built it yet.
So when do you make a prototype if you don't build it first or buy that domain first? When do you do that? I mean that's the fun part right. You need to build it when you have something to build specifically when you do these three things:
1. Understand the customer and their needs.
2. Are prepared to solve the customer's problem.
3. Have customers who have resonated with your story.
Justin Ferriman put out a blog talking about a WordPress LMS well before he ever had a single line of code for Learndash. He talked about solving the problem until people begged him for a solution.
Laura Elizabeth talked about great design for two years before launching her design academy. Again, people were begging her for a solution.
They and countless other successful entrepreneurs understand that you build a business with customers, not domains, not prototypes, not ideas.
So instead of showing up with a list of features for a project you built for yourself that you hope others will want, show up with a story that tells others, “This is what you need to make your problem disappear.”
That's it for this episode of WP Review. I hope you liked it.
For all of the show notes, you can head over to [wpreview.io/43]. There, you can also subscribe, get those creator tool kits I mentioned earlier. And thanks to our sponsor.
If you like this episode, share it with a friend.
Thanks to GoDaddy Pro for sponsoring this and every episode of WP Review.
And until next time. I'm Joe Casabona and I'll see you out there.