To build a great product, tackle customer intertia first

Marketplace model has picked up prominence in the startup communities globally. There are just so many problems that are being addressed by simple and elegant, uber — esque, marketplaces today.

In the midst of all the hoopla, the single biggest roadblock entrepreneurs face is when, after sweating for weeks they release their product and the customers (could be any side of the marketplace) do not leave what they were already using and transfer over to their platforms. The consumers like the product, even understand the extra value that it will bring to them, making their lives that much simpler. But they still won’t use their product.

Many of us, who have dealt with marketplaces, have heard things like — “wow, this is great, but I don’t really need another product”, “nice, but i think i am satisfied with what i am using right now”. It is not rare, and we scratch our heads thinking “why-o-why are they not ready to use my product”.

The answer to this, is our natural human nature.

We as living beings are suckers for habits, we don’t like things changing much no matter how much we proclaim otherwise. Moving away from what is known to us is very very difficult for humans, and when faced with the choice between something new and something familiar, we go for what we are comfortable with.

It is natural. And at some point in our lives, we have all done it.

There is an inherent inertia to change in humans. But we, as entrepreneurs and product managers, can overcome that inertia. The trick is to find what the “true” reason behind that inertia and address it head on.

For example — for a real estate marketplace, getting agents on board is difficult because they are used to existing products. It takes them 30–45 minute to upload a new listing, but they are used to it. That is what a real estate portal is to them. They don’t want to do it on many platforms, certainly not on a new one that is not even tested. When you pitch your super simple, mobile first marketplace to them, they are not saying no because they have a difficult decision to make between the two platforms, they have a difficult decision to make on how to best utilize their time. To them, time is the currency. Time, they have to spend on uploading on yet anther platform vs time they could spend with a client to close the deal. Time is the inertia.

The goal of an entrepreneur is to identify that inertia. We identified that in my last startup, and built a quick and easy tool for them to import listings from other platforms to ours, and also post to all with a single click by just posting on ours first.

So, Step 1- find what is the actual inertia. Look for the actual decision your customers are making, what are they trading and what is their currency. Step 2 — address the beast head on by building a product that eases that inertia.

Your sales pitch would become that much easier, because your product will now sell itself.

PS. This is applicable to all products, i merely used marketplaces as an example.