Be the first brand to focus on a moment of struggle and get rich

In simplest terms, successful products and services rescue a customer from a struggle. Life is hard and throughout the day we struggle to get things done. Make the baby stop crying. Serve a meal. Book a trip. Life includes a lot of to dos.

To aid in those struggles, we buy the help of others in the form of products and services. You’re tired, the kids are hungry and it’s getting late. Domino’s Pizza will bring a pizza to your house in about 30 minutes.

Your meeting ended early, your carpool doesn’t leave for hours, and there is room on a flight that leaves sooner. Uber will dispatch a private car to you right now.
Our favorite brands know our struggles.

Why is that?

Those brands were born in response to specific struggles. If necessity is the mother of invention, struggle is the mother of innovation.

In the days before Domino’s, the wait time for a home delivery could vary wildly depending on the day of the week and time of day. So it was hard to serve a pizza for dinner at the hour you wanted to. That was frustrating.

Tom Monaghan was running his traditional pizza shop when he realized that sometimes the biggest struggle for pizza delivery customers was not necessarily getting a better pizza or a cheaper pizza, but getting a pizza quickly — say, in 30 minutes or less. Today, Domino’s is worth about $6 billion.

Speaking to you

Almost invariably our favorite brands were the first to accurately identify a specific struggle, offer effective help and to speak to us in those terms.

When these brands were new, the early customers were people who most intensely felt the gap between what they needed to get done and the affordable means they had available to do it. They were very interested in new options, sometimes having gone so far as to concoct their own solutions.

That is not as uncommon as you may think. The more intensely customers feel a gap between what they need to get done and the affordable means available for getting it done, the more intensely they are interested in new options. They actively seek out new products and services. And when they find one that works, they buy and they tell their friends.

But as the gap is closed by the new option, their intense interest subsides, and they turn their attention elsewhere. That’s why copycat brands so often struggle to make headway.

Domino’s ability to keep the 30-minute delivery promise made pizza at home a much more attractive option. But what could the No. 2 do that was equally impactful? Pizza in 20 minutes?

If you are looking for growth, here is one proven way to get it: identify a specific customer struggle about which customers have a lot of emotion, then launch a brand that offers effective help and speaks to the customer in terms of the struggle.

If you’re the first brand to focus on a moment of struggle, odds are you’ll get rich. ●

Jerry McLaughlin is founder and CEO of Blow Birthday Cards, which offers one-stop shopping for fans of independently made birthday cards.