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The best (unknown) business books for entrepreneurs: Badass, Making Users Awesome

David Sherry
5 min read

As entrepreneurs and creators in the market today, we desperately want to stand out.

But what is it that differentiates a product or service from its competition?

Is it marketing? Is it timing? Is it luck? Is it quality?

This book, Badass: Making Users Awesome by Kathy Sierra, pulls back the curtain on all of those ideas, and describes the one thing that makes a difference between successful products and unsuccessful products.

I love this book because it's super logical. It builds an argument step-by-step, it keeps things very simple, and it describes the path to building sustainably successful products.

The key takeaway: it’s not the best products that win, it’s the most recommendable products that win.

Making great products is actually about helping other people become great.

Just think about how many products or services that you've been turned on to or bought from a friend's recommendation. I bet it’s a lot. And that’s the way products and businesses become sustainably successful. If you have recommendability for your products, you will build an organic customer base and consistently be making sales. It’s that simple.

Naturally, this conclusion leads to another question, which is the second one this book addresses.

What makes products recommendable?

The surprising answer is that it's not the product itself.

It's the experience that a customer has using your product that makes it recommendable.

For example, nobody talks about how great a new tripod or a new lens is for their camera, but they might talk about how beautiful their images are.

They might show off the images that they were able to take with that camera. Other people might see them posting better and more beautiful images and say, “Wow! Those images look amazing. How did you do that?”

Because great products are really about the result and the experience that they provide.That's the thing that we really want to share with other people.

It's not that we love products, we love ourselves.

When a product lets us be more of who we want to be, we want to share that with other people. We want to be public about our own growth, to show, for example, how much better we’ve gotten at editing our videos or how on-trend we are through what we're wearing.

So products are recommendable when they enable us to become more of the person that we wish to be, and then we get to share that with friends.

It's a little bit selfish to show what badasses we are, but it's also because we want our friends to be badasses too. We want them to get up to speed on these new products, on these new methods.

So the way to build recommendability is to help your customers become more successful, become more skilled, and to create better results so that other people see and ask them what’s different or they decide they want to share with the other people in their life.

Let's imagine that you're starting a coffee brand, which is targeted at new baristas. Now, people who are new baristas, they don't want to buy a product, a mug, or a new coffee maker. What they really want is to become professional baristas. That’s the bigger context that they're working in. If your products or service can help them become better baristas, they're going to feel empowered. They're going to feel like their skills are leveling up. So rather than selling a product, this new coffee machine, you want to sell the experience of becoming a professional barista. That's what you market. That's what you talk about. That's what you help create.

Help your customer move past obstacles

But on their journeys, your customer is going to face obstacles growing into that person they want to become.

Maybe they want to become somebody who's known as a fashion icon. Maybe they want to become somebody who can make amazing latte art. At every step of the way, there are different obstacles they have to overcome.

So the more your product helps people overcome the obstacles to becoming the person they want to be, the more likely they are to recommend their newfound skills that they obtained through your product to their friends and their peers.a

Help your customer become more discerning

Think about any time you've learned a new skill, how, when you're first starting out, you're not very discerning as a customer.

If you’re beginning your journey to becoming a sommelier, you might only see the color of the wine, and you might say, “I know that there's red wine and white wine, but that's about it.”

Then you start to see the different types of wines within those categories. Then you start to say, okay, that's a white wine under this category from this region. Then you start to pick up on the different notes.

Every step of your journey, you become a more discerning customer. And when you, as a company or brand can help your customers become more discerning, when you can help them see their market differently.

They become the type of people who can not only distinguish between red and white, but who also know all there is to know about floral types.

And when they have people over, they might share what they know and where they learned it with their guests. All the different details about that wine, why they chilled it versus not chilling it.

And if your company or brand, whether you sell the glasses or the wines or the corkscrew, helping your customers become more discerning, AKA more Badass, is going to allow them to love your brand in such a way that they're going to want to talk about it because you helped them through that journey.

What we can do as we build our products is actually map out the journey

Where is our customer trying to arrive? Do they want to be discerning wine drinkers who can host big parties and be the person who knows the most about wine in their friend group?

Do they want to be the videographer who uses special effects and interesting animations in their videos? What is the journey?

Once you know where your customer is trying to go, then you can start to see all the steps and skills along the way that can help them either through the product you provide or through the marketing or service or customer service that you provide.

If you can do that, you will make your products more recommendable.

You will make your customers have superpowers.

And sharing those superpowers with other people in their lives who are then going to want more of what they have, which is a perfect time

Final Thoughts

I wanted to share this book because it will give you a practical understanding of what creates a better customer experience, which ultimately leads to people recommending your product, which makes your product sustainably grow and sustainably be in business.

Making great products is actually about helping other people become great.

I love this concept and it relates a lot to me as well in my work as a coach, because my goal is always to help my clients consistently level up with the new micro skills they're applying to their business.

So I hope you decide to pick up this book by Kathy Sierra.

You can find Badass: Making Users Awesome on Amazon. If you decide to read it, comment or ask any questions in the comments below. I’d love to talk more.

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