What, exactly, is learn . know . believe?
learn . know . believe is a model that I’ve created to help companies successfully bring products and services to market. The has been honed in building early stage, credit card capital backed companies as well by helping fully mature, Fortune 100 organizations solve real-world product challenges. Translation? It’s been put through enough paces around the world to know that it works, well, in streamlining the product / service and company messaging and positioning processes.
Please note: For the sake of clarity I use the term “product” throughout this (and subsequent) posts. This can be interchanged with the terms service and/or company. The model is equally applicable to products, services and corporate messaging and positioning.
The foundation of the model begins with the answers to three fundamental questions:
What is a <product / service / company name>?
What has <product / service / company name> done? For whom?
What will <product / service / company name> do for me?
In this post, I’ll focus exclusively on learn.
The basis of learn is quite simple. The first time someone encounters your product, what do you want them to learn? The clearest way to address this is to ask yourself, “What is a <product name>? If there isn’t a clear, English-language answer to this question, it is going to be incredibly difficult for someone to learn about you and your offerings.
To find your learn, begin by asking your team, “What is a <product / service / company name>?” Write these answers down and, when you have all of your feedback, find the common threads to arrive at your first answer.
Once you have your internal answer to this question, the public testing and validation begins. Begin this testing and validation with friends of the firm – those who have some idea what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. These individuals are more likely to provide an initial step away from your product – just far enough away to bring up questions about your own definition.
After the initial external feedback is received and worked into your messaging, take the revised-yet-again messaging to friends of friends of the firm. This may also include initial prospective customers and customers of other products you offer. The objective with this second group is to get a bit further away from your core and see where the definition and messaging breaks down.
Next, once you have these first two iterations complete, take the third iteration and test it with key contacts in your industry. Media contacts, potential partners, potential customers, anyone who is far enough away from the core to have little idea who you are or why you’re working on this particular product is a perfect target for the third iteration.
Finally, after the third iteration, you should have a very strong first draft of your answer to the question, “What is a <product>?”
The final answer to this question will have, on average, a dozen iterations before you’re fully satisfied – and the market is fully satisfied. Don’t become discouraged after the fourth iteration when you see it start to shake as more people learn about your product and begin forming their own opinions and providing personal feedback. You are likely to have somewhere near eight more iterations to go before everyone (you, your company, your customers, your partners, your shareholders, the media, etc.) gets on the same page.
Once you have this your answer here, you’ll have the first step of the process complete – everyone will be able to learn exactly what you want about your product when they ask, “What is a … ?”
I’ll dive into Know in the next post.