Finding Language/Market Fit: Starting with "step zero" - Deepstash
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Struggling to find product/market fit

If you’re struggling to find product/market fit,


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Step zero

Step zero

Finding language/market fit should be "step zero" for startups as it can save you a lot of time and wasted cycles.

Founders should generally consider the search for language/market fit as part of the customer discovery process. (There are examples where this is less critical in certain contexts such as biotech startups or founders who are building products to scratch their own itch.)

However, if you've started with building and aren't finding a product/market fit yet, take a step back to find a language/market fit.


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Advantages with starting with a language/market fit

  • Speed. While product build-measure-learn cycles can take weeks, you can iterate language 5X in one day.
  • Traction. A pre-launch lead-capture site to confirm demand with 25% conversion is a clear indication for potential investors.
  • Clarity. Articulating your value prop in a clear, validated, and plain language helps the team understand what they're building and why.

You can use product/market fit with a build-measure-learn loop, but using a language/market fit gets you there faster.


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Why exact language is critical

Founders who want to "educate the market" need to fully capture users' attention, stop their current beliefs and then get them to adopt a new way of operating. 

For most startups, it's hard enough to get people to read or click your ads, much less change their habits or beliefs.


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Attentional control

People don't read startups' websites like they read books. They scan and occasionally scroll or click. This is called attentional control. Visitors decide how much attention to direct to your website or app store listing.

Attentional control modes:

  • Goal-directed attention. When you need to find something specific, you will direct your attention to get it. (Google)
  • Stimulus driven. When your mind is focused on raw sensory input, looking or engaging things. (Facebook)

To get prospects to invest more time considering your features or pricing, you need to find the exact language they scan for.


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How to find the exact language

People don't think about a list of product features or platitudes. Instead, what is running in their mind are anxieties, fears, doubts, hopes, dreams. So your headline needs to be about the stuff in their heads.

If your headline completes the sentence "Our product is...", you're not using your prospects' words. A good marketer will complete the sentence "Now you can..." or "I wish I could..." or " I hope to..."


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If you’re struggling to find a product/market fit, first figure out what “looks like food” to your prospects. Find the language/market fit first and everything else will be much easier.


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