Selling Squirrels to dogs

Humans love familiarity and the safety and security that comes with it.

And when you're selling a new idea, that familiarity is your best friend. 

But what happens when they're not new?

What if you're selling a CRM for dentists? Dentists use existing products to manage customer relationships, and whilst you've improved on those alternatives, it's an old idea.

How do you sell an old idea?

It was 2013 that I first became aware of Wistia. It's a video hosting platform - nothing new there.

They were late to market, selling an old idea 10x the price of their famous competitors.

Youtube were offering hosting for free, Vimeo at $5 per month, Wistia at $50 per month.

I needed video hosting, and after considering the options, I made the obvious choice.

I chose Wistia.

Dogs chase Squirrels

Pixar's Up taught us that, regardless of what a dog is up to, if they get sight of a squirrel, you've lost them. At that moment, they ignore everything going on around them and fixate on the squirrel.

Pixar Up taught us that dogs love chasing squirrels

The same thing happens with humans (it's called attentional bias).

We notice one thing over everything else.

And that 'thing' is determined by our own unique experiences, beliefs, emotions, and expectations.

That's why, when two weeks into a carb-cutting diet, craving all the foods you shouldn't eat, you can't help but notice everyone around you eating doughnuts and chips. It's not that there are suddenly more people eating them than usual. It's just that your attention is honed in on them.

If you're selling an old idea, you need to hold onto this phenomenon because…

When selling old ideas, familiarity is an enemy, not a friend. 

If you're not a squirrel, you're just background noise.

If we've seen your thing (or something like it) before, we ignore you. We'll stick with the existing option we're comfortable with. 

In fact, once we own a thing (an idea, a skill, a toy), we irrationally place greater value on it than the alternative we don't own, even if the alternative is objectively better.

This is why, with old ideas, familiarity isn't your friend…

But contrast is

Familiar ideas need to be packaged as something new, and you do that by doing what Wistia did.

I worked in SEO in 2013 when I needed video hosting, and Wistia kept popping up in industry blogs, forums, and conferences. 

They delivered incredible insights on video marketing and how B2Bs could use it to build a brand.

They also had video SEO features, which at the time were huge. Everyone knew that the Google algo liked video, but it was hard for non-technicals to create the right tags. Wistia offered a simple way to do that.

They combined Video SEO with unrivalled video analytics, plus an incredible resource centre showing startups how to record and edit video on a budget.

It was (intentionally) a dream video hosting platform for marketers. 

Word spread fast. First amongst SEOs, then the broader marketing community. They were selling a squirrel to marketers looking to build brand and traffic with video.

Wistia was unique, high priced and just for marketers

Old idea (video hosting), new packaging (for marketers).

What should the packaging look like?

If you want to catch a dog's attention, the packaging looks like a squirrel.

How do we know that? 

Because we know that dogs like squirrels, they get super excited when you simply say the word 'squirrel.'

Squirrels jump off the page

Every one of us has different tasks, jobs and emotions that we're struggling with right now.

Our senses are heightened at the mention of those struggles. If someone claims to have a solution, well it stops us in our tracks like a squirrel does a dog.

If you're selling CRM to dentists, and dentists already have CRMs, your old idea needs to solve dentists' struggles (that the existing CRM doesn't) and angle your entire product around that position.

How do you do that?

With the 3Ws, something I cover in my positioning email series.

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