The secrets of successful products? These 3 Laws

Do you want make successful products? I do.

But I like to use simple heuristics – rather than complicated ideas – to help me do this. I always look first for the simplest way to think about product management problems or situations. I’ve written about my three product rules of thumb which can determine if a product can be successful. There’s also my take on agile, ways to get over creative blocks, and how to prioritize.

Another great heuristic I love is Doug Hall’s Three Laws of Marketing Physics. He describes them in his book Jump Start Your Business BrainThe 3 Secret Characteristics of All Successful Products 1. (Which I highly recommend – it’s a great read for this and many other great ideas.)

Innovation expertise, guaranteed

Hall is an innovation expert, the inventor of Innovation Engineering, and founder of Eureka Ranch. He and his team run Eureka Inventing, among other programs.  These are innovation sessions with teams from large and small companies who need to improve their products. It’s a 12-week process that “takes you from dreams and goals to a Meaningfully Unique Innovation that is highly protectable.”

The Three Laws of Marketing Physics capture the three things you need to maximize the likelihood of product success. They don’t guarantee success, but if you don’t have them your probability of success plummets.

The Three Laws of Marketing Physics

Your product must have:

  1. An Overt Benefit – what’s in it for the customer? What good thing – benefit – do they get from your product? You must be able to articulate this very clearly. You can’t depend on prospects to figure it out themselves, you have to tell them directly.
  2. A Real Reason to Believe – Persuasive credibility that your product can deliver what you’re promising with your Overt Benefit. Customer confidence is low, and distrust of vendors is high, especially nowadays. Your buyer may have as much or more knowledge as you do! You need highly credible and distinct evidence that the customer will gain the benefits you are promising.
  3. A Dramatic Difference – Of course you know you need to differentiate from your competitors to win. But you may not realize how dramatic the difference needs to be. See if you can make it ten times bigger than you think you need to. Focus it directly on the Overt Benefit and the Real Reason To Believe.

It’s not just a feeling, there’s data

It’s immediately obvious that a product that aligns with the Three Laws of Marketing Physics will have a distinct advantage. But Hall goes farther in his book and lays out exactly how much the advantage is. For example, a product with a low Dramatic Difference has a 15% likelihood of success. A product with a high Dramatic Difference has a 53% probability of success. And a product that combines all three – an Overt Benefit, a Real Reason To Believe, and a Dramatic Difference has a compounding effect on probability of success.

If you’re a product person and you can’t articulate these three Laws for your product, you have some woodshedding to do.

Mental models give you power

The 3 Laws of Marketing Physics are a mental model, and like the other mental models we use in product management, they give you a lot of power for building successful product and getting successful them to market. I have a couple of articles about mental models, and I’ve given a talk for Product Tank in San Francisco about the topic:

What mental models do you find yourself returning to in your product management career? Leave me a comment below! I read and respond to all of my comments.



About the author

Your host and author, Nils Davis, is a long-time product manager, consultant, trainer, and coach. He is the author of The Secret Product Manager Handbook, many blog posts, a series of video trainings on product management, and the occasional grilled pizza.

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