There’s one quality that separates the winners from the losers. In a way, it doesn’t matter where you are: the high school lunchroom, in a multi million dollar pitch meeting, sitting at a keyboard crafting content, or calling prospective customers.
You must be compelling.
Think about the songs you love, the websites you visit regularly, the products you purchase, and you can see that they all have something in common. You always want more.
All things being equal, creating a persona, a product or a company that draws people to you is the golden ticket to success. But there are challenges. Being compelling is a blend of attributes that all work together to create a whole greater than its parts. Each of the parts is fairly easy to achieve, but it takes some work to get everything working in concert over the long term. And compellingness runs the risk of being cyclical.You may be in favor now, but if you don’t have a long term strategy, your fame and fortune will be fleeting.
Look at Candy Crush Saga, the top money making Facebook and iTunes app, raking in millions. For months, I resisted the Facebook ads. And then I relented. Like many millions of players, I return again and again to the game. A writer at Business Insider admits to having spent $127 on in game boosters in the past week. She got hooked on July 6, 2013, a day she writes, “I spent the entire Saturday crushing candies like a boss.”
Perfectly intelligent, hard working people have gotten sucked into level after level swiping brightly colored candies. Just writing about it makes me want to play a round. However, Candy Crush Saga has a limited life span. The very attributes that make it compelling are also the most aggravating, and after some interval of play, where the reward is more play, people will drop it and return to real life. Or, of course, they could die.
Here’s another example of a compelling product. There’s a gelato shop just down the street from my office. Capogiro has won all kinds of awards and the making of the product is done in closely guarded quarters. It’s so compelling that a local chef once attempted to race past a briefly unlocked kitchen door. He was caught. Like other closely held recipes such as Coca-Cola, the Capogiro formula is firewalled. But it’s not just a bunch of ingredients that make the ice cream great. Here’s what really makes people happy: customers can taste as many flavors as they like. First timers are skeptical. But the scoopers are endlessly patient. You might want to sample 5 or 6 flavors before making your decision to pay anywhere from 4 to 7 dollars for a cup of gelato. The owners did the math. They figured out they can still turn a profit despite what appears to be giving away the store. Capogiro consistently makes the top ten lists of ice cream shops in the world.
Let’s break down what it means to be compelling.
You have to believe in yourself and your product. While that won’t get you all the way to the bank, without that good feeling, there’s no center and no energy to draw people in. But you cannot tip over into being egocentric or arrogant. You cannot want to be compelling for the sake of being compelling.
Quality is part of the equation, but positioning yourself or your product as a must have in peoples’ lives is equally valuable. When Capogiro gives away samples, people remember that experience and crave a repeat. Of course, the quality is there to back up the freemium gimmick.
Remeber the first rule of show business. Be entertaining. Seems simple, but it’s deep. Would you rather sit through a yawn of a meeting, or enjoy the experience? Make it a fun ride.
It’s very easy to know if you are not compelling. No one pays attention. The best way to find out if your product or service can be compelling is to ask the following questions and listen to the answers. Do people want it? Will they come back for more? And ask yourself if can you maintain that momentum in the long term.
Once you’ve got your answers, and you discover that you have a faulty premise, or some of the pieces of your puzzle won’t fit, don’t be afraid to pivot. You may be just one step away from becoming America’s next sweetheart. Do it for your audience, not for yourself. And always leave them wanting more.