The product challenge you’re facing isn’t what you think it is

Do you remember this video?

Take a second, or rather, a few minutes, and watch this video. You've likely already seen it.

It's from Dove, and it went viral. They even won awards for it.

It's powerful—but that's not the point. I'll tell you the point after you finish the video.

Dove won awards for that video because it was so well done. The point is so easy to get.

But the notion of how we see ourselves, and what real beauty is… that notion didn't just materialize out of thin air in 2013 for Dove.

The real story starts in 2006

Like most stories, we see just a glimpse and have no idea what the backstory is.

But Dove began challenging its own internal sense of what it meant to be beautiful as far back as 2006.

You see, the marketing director for Dove was a woman with her own daughter.

And in 2006 she had her own personal realization that all the “beautiful” models that were in all the Dove ads were creating a challenge for her own daughter.

Her own daughter didn't think she was beautiful.

I'm a dad. I can't imagine how my heart would break if my daughter thought she was ugly.

So I have no trouble believing what the marketing director for Dove did.

She shifted their campaigns—including using photos of young girls with messages like “She wishes she was blonde.”

The econsultancy blog shares, “Rather than quitting her job immediately, Bright created a mock-up advert using all of the company directors' own daughters. with text alongside each image saying how these girls believed they weren't beautiful.” 

And the same post highlights that this kind of work, back in 2006, drove a doubling of their revenues.

Why am I telling you about Dove?

There's a reason why I'm telling you all about Dove. I promise I'll explain, but let me first ask you a couple questions.

  • Have you ever been to Craig's List?
  • Have you ever thought, “Man, why is this site so ugly?”
  • Have you ever dreamed of fixing the site? Of redesigning it?

If you're a software developer, designer, or person who sees sites like that and wants to fix it, I totally get it.

I'm right there with you.

And that's why I started by telling you about Dove.


Not every challenge is a product challenge

People like me and you, we go to sites like Craig's List and we want to fix it.

We interact with products and want to improve them.

We see these things and immediately think of them as product challenges.

Sometimes you don't need to invest any more time or energy, or money, into the product. Sometimes you just need better messaging. Sometimes you need to dig deeper to find the connection and truth that makes people sit back and have an “aha” moment.

That's a marketing challenge. Not a product challenge.

Stop building features. Get some messaging help.

I told you the Dove story because if you were like me, you'd think—hmm, the Dove folks want to double their revenue, I can do it. Let's just figure out a way to add some cool stuff to the soap.

  • Maybe we can add an anti-perspirant into the soap.
  • Maybe we can make a liquid soap.
  • Maybe we can put a television into the soap with a dedicated HBO channel.

Don't look at me that way. I know you. I know me.

We all get feature-itis.

And that's not what a lot of folks need. A lot more folks need a lot more work on the ways to connect with a lot more of their audience. And that's messaging work. Not feature work.

114 million folks watched that Dove video in its first month online.

No feature you're obsessing about will get you 114 million folks. I swear.

The product challenge you're facing isn't what you think it is.

Please, pretty please, ask for some help.