What is the “WOW! Factor” — and, more importantly, does it matter? Many times external stakeholders will ask startups “what’s your silver bullet?” I think that’s the wrong question. Rarely is a single thing, a silver bullet, the secret to success. The secrets to success usually lie in a founder’s ability to do a lot of little things extremely well. However, it’s often difficult to demonstrate to customers, investors, or the media exactly why no one else can do X as well as they can. That said, there is a way to communicate and excite prospects beyond the silver bullet or “a lot of little things,” and that’s where your WOW! Factor comes in.
What is the WOW! Factor?
The WOW! Factor may or may not describe your entire solution, or it may just be a small feature, but it is ALWAYS simple — and, literally, makes someone say “WOW!”
Some of you won’t remember the days before the iPhone, but there were many versions of smartphones before the iPhone came on the scene and redefined the category. The WOW! Factor of the iPhone was its simplicity and intuitiveness. The truth is, there is an incredible level of sophisticated technology behind that simplicity, but try explaining all that to a consumer. Even my 80-year-old dad could pick it up and start using it without an instruction manual. On the other hand, it took me months to figure out how to get the most out of my android phone and, even today, it’s still not as easy to use as the iPhone.
In the early days of my last company, in the early 2000’s, our software solved a suite of complex problems — but when we would try to explain it to someone, their eyes would glaze over. Luckily, we had a WOW! Factor. I had never heard the term before and had never been exposed to the concept but, as dumb as this sounds today, anytime there was a link to any address, our software popped up a map — and everyone said “WOW!” As a startup offering something completely new, this little win was energizing; it kept our prospects engaged and eager to learn more about the more technical, complex solutions that our technology was intended to solve. Over time, as our customer became more familiar with us and other technologies, our WOW! Factor had to evolve, and yours probably will too.
A great example is SnapChat. The first WOW! Factor was that the message would expire and disappear, but people quickly discovered the workaround of taking a screenshot. To compensate, Snapshot continued to evolve, creating Lenses. Instagram created filters. Facebook created the Like button.
It’s Not Always Technical
Your WOW! Factor may not be pure tech; it could be any number of features: a service solution, cool tech, unique marketing, ridiculously lower price, massive efficiency improvement, the possibilities are endless (I recently signed up for a food delivery service Trifecta Nutrition. The first sentence of the first customer review was, “all i can say is ‘WOW!’ ”). It’s also never something that can stand alone – it’s always supported by a lot of other aspects of your solution — ones that tend to be aspects people don’t want to hear about.
Only you know what your WOW! Factor is, but it’s imperative that you can demonstrate it and make it impossible for your customer not to say “WOW!” when they see it or experience it.
SO? What is your “WOW!” factor? If you know, we want to know too!