If You Could Take a Pill

If you could take a pill to make yourself smarter, would you do it? If it made your startup leaner and smarter, would what work for you? What about any additional superpowers, like writing bug-free code all night, grabbing a coffee and writing lead-converting copy in the morning, all without any negative effects? Would you do it?

I would take a pill that made me faster and smarter, sure.

There are lots of pill-like things you can do to quickly get people to be aware of what you’re doing. Run Google AdWords with the most competitive keywords, throw parties and hire B-level celebrities to attend them, spring for signage in Times Square. Get product placement in an award show. Any of those things will put you in the fast lane because they give you a fast-food kind of social proof.

The slow way of building a connection with your users lasts longer. Consider the people who tattoo Harley-Davidson logos on their bodies. People who pay more to shop at Whole Foods. People who go a few extra blocks for Intelligentsia Coffee. They are all inconveniencing themselves, spending more, going out of their way to get something they believe in. Loyalty like that is not earned quickly.

Building loyalty is slow.

These things are slow: Learning as much about your potential customer as you can, creating user personas, going out and asking people how they’d use your product, and slower still, listening when you ask them how they feel about what you do. Building a Twitter or Facebook following without buying it, building a YouTube following without ads, building an email list one subscriber at a time: All slow.

Since you are creating something remarkable, you’re going to craft it carefully.  Your work must feel personal, even to people who will never meet you. You’re not making a commodity. You’re making something indispensable, irreplaceable, completely original.  That takes time. Often slower is better. Even if that fast-adoption pill were available.