No, thanks

What is valuable to your audience?

We design experiences with our own benefit in mind, trying to make life easier for us, adding an additional step so that we don’t have to do some more work.

And the burden of all this, of course, is on the user. Who has options and kindly says, no thanks.


The Flickr for videos.

A Netflix for video games.

The Airbnb for parking.

It’s a great way to describe what your product does, but do you and your team understand what that means? What are the characteristics of the original that you believe you have? What will ensure that you will still be in that same game in the future? Or is it a trick to cheat your stakeholders into believing you will get to a similar valuation?

It is a useful exercise to clarify what you mean by taking this useful shortcut. It brings your team together and creates alignment throughout the company. It gives you milestones to look forward to and a manifesto customers can buy into.

Start with:

  • What features matter to the original and to us alike.
  • What parts of both stories are common and what are not.
  • How do we ensure we continue on the same path.

Exactly the same

It’s not enough that you make your story clear for yourself. You also have to make it clear for those you serve.

Most companies have a clear idea of why they are in business, of the problem they solve, of the new world they want to build. But then they stop there. They fail to put in the work that is necessary to spread the word, to tie goals into their vision, to buy others into their perspective. And that’s why most companies feel like they are exactly the same.

Differentiation also means leveraging that unique story and making it relatable. If you don’t understand this, you are in a perfect competition.

If you’re innovating in a nascent market, the push for recognition of your product category needs to be a major chunk of your go-to-market strategy.

Stewart Butterfield, From 0 to $1B


It does not tell much about our product.

What about talking about that feature we have spent all that money on?

We should probably play it safe.

I don’t think it’s going to work.

It’s nice, but it lacks appeal.

Why don’t we put a nice picture with a smart description of our product capabilities?

I am sure whoever is behind this genius campaign by 3M has heard some versions of this many times, as many marketers have. Some give up, some persist.

One way or the other, keep in mind that people are not moved by rationality.

Tell stories

Tell about yourself with examples.

You are not self-motivated, you have started your own solo business and grown it to 200k ARR.

You are not a team player, you have joined a team and found a way to help your peers get the recognition they deserved.

You are not a marketing professional, you have researched audiences for five companies and found the most effective way to build a connection with their audiences.

Don’t tell about labels, tell stories.

That’s how you are going to win us over.

Note: It’s just as valid for products and services.