Doug Hall’s Three Laws of Marketing Physics

by nils  - July 16, 2013

As a product manager I use some simple heuristics to help me think about product management problems or situations. I’ve written about my three product rules of thumb which can determine if there’s a good chance of a product being successful.

Doug Hall has a great set of rules – actually, they are “laws,” according to their author – called the Three Laws of Marketing Physics. He describes them in his book Jump Start Your Business Brain, highly recommended and a great read for this and other reasons.

Innovation expertise, guaranteed

Hall is an innovation expert, the inventor of Innovation Engineering and founder of Eureka Ranch, where he and his team run Eureka Inventing, among other programs.  These are innovation and ideation sessions with teams from large and small companies who need to improve their product offerings. 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 your product being successful – they don’t guarantee success, but if you don’t have them your probably of success plummets:

  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 – “overtly.” 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 in this age where the buyer may have as much or more knowledge as the seller. 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 in order to win. But you may not realize how dramatic the difference needs to be – ten times bigger than you think, and focused directly on the Overt Benefit and the Real Reason To Believe.

It’s immediately obvious that a product that aligns with the three Laws will have a distinct advantage over products that don’t. But Doug 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, while 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 commensurately multiplicative effect on probability of success.

Over the next few days we’ll drill down on these Laws a bit more, with a few examples. In the meantime, if you’re a product person and you can’t articulate these three Laws for your product, you might have some woodshedding to do.


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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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