I was intrigued by Lady Gaga’s latest music video, Alejandro, and I started thinking about what makes her so spellbinding to millions, and whether startups can learn to create their own spellbinding success.
Lady Gaga’s best feature is her voice. Her strong and unique voice will likely capture your attention if you hear to it on the radio; when I first heard Bad Romance in my car, it sounded interesting; it was different than the other songs playing on the station. It broke the monotony of my drive. And the song kept repeating in my head for the rest of the day.
Then there is the form. Lady Gaga consistently delivers each of her songs in a unique style that complements her voice, her feature. Each video is interesting, polarizing, shocking, intriguing and provoking in its own way. You can’t help but watch. And if you can’t watch, you switch it off and later you may talk to your friends about how weird or abnoxious it was. Your opinion would make your friends intrigued enough to check it out, and they may agree or disagree with you. Either way, Laday Gaga made you listen, made you look, and made you talk.
Let’s face it, most products are boringly similar: A landing page with taglines, list of features, screenshots, a video walkthrough, and a big sign up button. Seriously, how many landing pages have you seen that are just few variations away from each other? How many times did you stop and think “Hmm.. Now that’s interesting!” How many products you look at that you actually remember enough to talk about?
The secret word here is INTERESTING; We’re not just looking forward to add more features to our lives, we want to make our lives more interesting. If people choose your product because it’s got better features or is a bit faster, that’s because they want to get the job done and proceed with the more INTERESTING stuff in their lives.
People don’t make their decisions rationally, by the time they are consciously making their minds, their subconscious would have already decided for them. If you don’t capture them in those first 2-3 seconds, you may lose their interest forever.
It’s not enough to be good. You must be different. And it’s not enough to be good and different, you must be CONSISTENTLY good and different. Remember these two equations:
Features + form = character
Great features + Unique form = Memorable character
Lady Gaga is a memorable character, and your product should also have its uniquely memorable character.
I previously wrote a post about the user’s journey how to drive users to ecstasy (and boredom) . And to drive them to ecstacy, you need to find the G-Spot (I am referring here to the Gaga-Spot). Your product’s G-Spot is where form and function intersect with a unique style. It could be a visual style (Mint), a language style (BaseCamp), your voice (Vaynerchuck) or your customer service style (Zappos).
Don’t settle for a boring landing page or a list of features. Don’t talk too much about yourself. Don’t use jargons like “state of the art”, “innovative” and “revolutionary”. Leave these diluted phrases to big companies, and find what makes your product unique, what makes your customers tick, and how you can address their problems in an interesting style. Understanding the human side of business, knowing what people NEED and WANT will give you a competitive edge: Not only you’ll be delivering what they need, you’ll be delivering it in a way they would want it. You’ll be selling to their conscious and subconscious minds!
If most businesses fail anyway, this should be a liberating fact! If it might fail, why not fail with a style and have fun doing it. Or as James Cameron put it:
Fail above everyone else’s success.