I am will willing to bet that the physics of inertia isn’t a topic that comes up regularly in your product strategy discussions. John Moore, recently covered this topic in regards to word of mouth marketing and I think it is directly applicable to product planning.
On the topic of inertia, John writes that to build word of mouth momentum, you need to encourage your customers to talk or it won’t happen. If you can leave your customer happy, the greater the odds that they will want to tell others about their experience.
From a product development standpoint, I submit the more you plan for this up front, the easier it will be to generate conversation momentum later. Gimmicks are not going to get you moving for long so you’re going to need features that are relevant and complimentary to your overall positioning.
It can be as simple as adding a special place for a first aid kit to emphasize your tough SUV as long as it fits the story you want to tell (I hate to use it again, but the Nissan Xterra is a great example of a product that was designed with a story in mind).
Here are a three recent examples that put a spotlight on a product through word of mouth:
- Mitch Joel, from Six Pixels of Separation, recommendation of the Eagle Creek Tarmac suitcase (a great product story that isn’t jumping off the web page but sings when told by Chris Brogan).
- Ford’s use of Youtube to have customers tell the story of the new Fiesta.
- Milwaukee burger joint, AJ Bombers’ use of Foursquare to have customer’s share their favorite menu items.
As Scott Stratten put it, “if your product sucks, social media makes it suck more”. However, if you build a product that goes above what is expected and delights, social media has the potential to act as an amplifier.
Just remember, the more places you can give customers to grab onto, the easier it will be for them to help with the lifting as you try to get your product moving.
Picture credit: Flickr