Demand Horizon

with Gerry Campbell

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8 Second Rule

Forget first impressions; you have eight seconds

Gerry Campbell

Serial Entrepreneur, Author, Demand Horizon & Search Expert

Lessons Learned

It is hard to pin down what a really great product is, but we know when we see a bad one.

8 Second Rule: What is this? Do you love it?

If people cannot look at your product and immediately know what it is, you will fail.


Lesson: Demand Horizon with Gerry Campbell

Step #10 8 Second Rule: Forget first impressions. You have eight seconds

Great products. They're loved by customers. They go viral, right? Anything that's loved by customers is going to take off and it's going to make billions of dollars. Some of this is in jest. It's really hard to pin down what a great product is, but we know when we see something, it's not a great product. People don't love it. People don't tell their friends about it. It doesn't stick around very long.

We want to make billions and make great products. Well, that's a really broad question, how do we want to do it? Here is where my experience comes in. You guys have all seen the search engine suggestion box. I'm a named inventor on that patent and I want to tell one story a little bit about how that got there.

The internet was all about dial up and you had an email address that was a number, without any letters in it. I was building products in Columbus, Ohio for CompuServe. That's where the internet started for me and I helped invent things like when you go in and type in a domain name and it comes back and says that domain name is available, that very first time that was ever created was in a product I was working on at CompuServe called "business web."

Before then, if you wanted a domain name, you had to fill out a piece of paper, send it off in the mail and wait for the mail to come back. I was a part of a bunch of different very first things that you probably use every day, but this is the one that I'm most proud of.

So I was running search at AOL and I was GM, and I ran products and business. This was in 2001-2002. We were working on trying to understand why people weren't satisfied in search. We were doing a bunch of surveys and studies, and what we did, instead of digging into what people said about what they did, we looked at the data. We looked at the data that showed people were scrolling too far down the page. We looked at the data that said people weren't clicking anywhere on the page and they were reformulating the query and trying it again, and we were seeing that they will put more and more and more words.

Now this is back in a time when if you typed into a search entry box, you know what happened? Nothing. It wouldn't make a suggestion. There was no Google Instant and we had this crazy idea, we needed to help people refine the query before the query was issued, and it sounded absolutely crazy at the time. We talked to our engineers. The engineers said it can't be done. We said, "You've got to do it. It's the most amazing thing ever." We talked to the attorneys. The patent was done. This is an experience that is the catalyst for me.

The goal is to get to the eight second rule. So we in the hundred interviews, what we did was we started with an idea. And asked people what their thinking was in general about their problems with families. Moving all the way down, to a set of criteria. We built a product that we believed reflected their needs and we found after a couple of trials. And we built an HTML, loaded it up on a browser in a phone, and said the eight second rule is really simple.

What is this? And do you love it? If people can't look at your product, this is very consumer, it lends mostly towards abs but it works for web pages too. If people can't look at your product immediately and say, "I know what it is." You will fail. Absolutely without a doubt you will fail if people don't know what your product is and what it does. In fact if they don't tell you in words that you want to hear, that others use that they know what it is. "Oh I know what this is. This is a parking up." Perfect. They know what to search for. They know how to tell their friends about it. And ultimately do you love it? If people don't love it, "Yeah, I know what it is. It's a mail client. I don't love this. It doesn't do anything for me."

This is the test. My deterministic goes for this saying," The reason you run through all of this process, is to get to the point where you can reliably get users to look at your stuff and say, "Yeah, I know what that is and can I have it?" And when people tell you through the series of very inexpensive testing, "I know what it is and I love and I want it." You have what it takes to then validate the idea.

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