Another brick in the wall

Most of the changes you make in your product are designed to grow your market share… to get you new customers (by having them switch from the competition) or to grow the market (by having people enter your market) or to keep people from leaving in a churning market.

So, how do you get them to make the switch?

I think it might be useful to think of two kinds of innovations.

Call the first kind, "another brick in the wall." I was listening to two guys online (sorry, can’t remember where) discussing PDF printing. The first was talking about various shareware and freeware ways to get Windows to create PDF files. The second pointed out that it was built in already to the Mac.

First guy said, "Yeah, I’m going to give up all of my hardware and software and switch just so I don’t have to install a piece of freeware…"

That ability on the Mac is another brick. Build enough bricks and soon enough, it is enough to switch.

The second kind we can call, "game changers." These are the remarkable innovations that make not switching painful. The sort of free prize inside that reminds the unswitched that not having switched yet is painful. It doesn’t have to be a totally recasting of all that a product stands for. Interesting for me to note that Time Machine might be Apple’s latest game changer. It promises to relieve so much pain and anxiety in a certain class of user that for an informed chooser (and that’s not as big a category as any marketer wishes it was) it might just mean a whole new decision.

The other lesson here is this: game changers are rare. If you are swinging for the fences all the time, looking for one, you might end up striking out a lot. Bricks, on the other hand, are the way most industries are won.