Your Product Is Going to Fail

You were sent this article to help you discern, to help you make that call on your own. Maybe to help you switch up what doesn’t work, see what’s salvageable. Maybe even to help you know when to move on.


Your product is most likely going to fail. We know this because despite the energy you’re putting in, it won’t ever pick up.

It’s the momentum’s fault. Not your momentum. You, your team, you’ve been adding tons of it. No, it’s because of the buyer’s momentum. It’s not there.

The Buyer’s Momentum, It’s Not There

There’s market size, typical buyers, problems, solutions, competitors and alternatives. You’ve thought those through already.

And then there are people. People that have enough momentum to help them push through all of these 10 steps:

  1. experiencing a big enough struggle to say “enough is enough”,
  2. deciding it’s time to part with the old,
  3. considering taking a chance,
  4. researching,
  5. letting themselves be attracted,
  6. seeing that there are imperfections in the match,
  7. making some trade-offs,
  8. weighing the pros and cons,
  9. going back and forth in their mind,
  10. and finally saying “yes, this, now”, parting with their hard-earned money to buy your product.

It takes a ton of momentum to take a person through all that deliberation.

  • ⚬→ It takes a strong enough struggle to give them the initial momentum. Something that gets them off their chair and gets them to start looking for a way out. Without that initial momentum, you can add a whole bunch of attractive features, it won’t sway your buyer. Some people say the need isn’t there. I’m saying the struggle wasn’t hard enough. Your product has to address a hard struggle. That force will be with the buyer from steps 1 to 10. You need those battery levels the whole way through, something to push the buyer along the journey.
  • →⚬ Then, it takes some attraction, something that pulls your buyer toward your solution. Does the buyer see that your product will help them achieve the progress they’re trying to make? They want to fire the old, and they want to hire something better. Will they hire this product for the job they need done? If the aspiration they’re after is to move up the ranks at their job, will your product help with that job? Show the buyer. You’re not selling a product, you’re selling a delta, you’re selling progress. The attraction force occurs during steps 4 to 10.
  • ←⚬ There will be some anxieties, some hesitations. Of course, you thought about these already. You’ve lowered the price, you added an FAQ, you re-assured the user about how your product works. Other things that put the brakes on the momentum: a price that’s too low, too many features to have to learn that don’t connect with the specific job/progress they’re trying to make, the “will this be around for the long run” anxiety. Remove those anxieties, and preserve the sacred momentum. Anxieties show up in steps 4 to 9.
  • ⚬← Bad news, you’re actually competing against these words: “I’ll just”. Your biggest competitor will always be something called “non-consumption”. The majority of your visitors will choose to not spend. This is the biggest hurdle of them all. It sits with the buyer from steps 1 to 9. It’s a drag. No matter how attractive your product, no matter if you’ve removed anxieties, you’re competing against a monster pull-back called “I’ll just”. “I’ll just do it myself. I’ll just continue doing it the way I’ve always been doing it. I’ll just wait until someone else makes the decision. I’ll just find another way to solve this problem.” You need a lot of momentum to clear the gravity well of “I’ll just”.

If your current product fundamentally doesn’t catch that kind of momentum, it’s not going to go anywhere. No matter how much ad money you put in. No matter how many people see your landing page. No matter the type of design you used for your landing page (although you might want to consider trying a struggle-first landing page), your product needs to connect with real buyers having real momentum.

“But Maybe I Can Pivot”

Maybe there’s another way to tweak your product. This lens helps you imagine some new ways to package it, reshape it.

Maybe there’s a subset of your product’s features that will connect with the buyer’s actual momentum, the progress that a big enough number of people are trying to achieve and tell others about it once they find it.

Maybe you can re-work your existing product, tear it down, start anew under a new name. If the new thing can nail those four forces of progress, maybe you’ve got another chance to swing at the ball.

Maybe you can inventory some “when” statements, those situations when your buyer is finally at the point when they’re building that momentum. Maybe those situations occur frequently enough for the people you’re able to reach.

Unless your time is running out.

More Time, Better Timing

There are two more things that are inevitable about product creation, and they’re both about time:

  1. It’ll take more time than you think,
  2. and you’ll have to time things right.

More time and better timing.

If you’re running out of time, maybe it’s time to regroup, maybe consider freelancing some more.

Or maybe you’ve got something, and it’ll just take more time. Eventually it’ll catch on.

How to know?

The Dip and the Dead-End

How can you know whether you should quit your product, park it for a while and see where it goes, or push through to the other side?

Seth Godin had a remarkable little book to help answer that question. It’s called The Dip.

Most people quit things that shouldn’t be quit and stay too long on stuff they should have quit long ago.

Seth categorizes things under two main labels: Dips and Dead-ends.

A Dip is something that at first looks like you’re going down hill. You’re not seeing the results just yet, and it seems that you’re wasting your efforts. You’ve left the comfort of certitude, and at times you want to run back to safety. But a dip has a bottom, and then it goes back up. And when you go up, you go up higher than you were before you started. If you’re in a dip, stick with it.

A Dead-end is something that no matter how hard you try, it’s not going to go anywhere. There was never something in there for you to gain. Or maybe it’s just bad timing, but you don’t know when the environment will be ripe for this idea to get traction. You should quit if you’re in a dead-end. Sooner rather than later.

What can we conclude from these two options?

Too many of you are quitting products that had a chance! Your product nailed the buyer’s momentum. You could have parked it on the side and let it stay there, but you decided to quit it. Stop doing that folks! You were in a dip! Bring your product back up.

And a lot of you are in a dead-end. Maybe it’s not your product that’s a dead-end, it’s your other work that’s a dead-end. Maybe the client work will never do it for you. Maybe that other job is a dead-end. Your product probably won’t pick up quickly enough. Maybe it’s that other thing you need to quit, and your product you need to keep.


This article wasn’t so much about your product. It was about discernment, that special skill for those who want to go where things are fuzzy and new. The ability to see things as they really are, to sit through discomfort, to part with your ego (I’ll write about the topic of ego pretty soon) and to pick your next steps, that’s the kind of work you were always going to be doing by picking to make a product.

You were always going to end up here.

So I hope this article helps you pick your next steps.

Stay Sharp.



@pascallaliberte

Get articles like this one, delivered on Friday.

To learn to sharpen your own stuff.

Coming in the next few weeks: we’ll be talking about product failure. Bet you it’s on your mind.

And here's a list of the past articles to get a sense of what you'll get.

Plus, receive a link to a video of a presentation I gave explaining the Jobs-To-Be-Done theory

Another option: on Twitter (@pascallaliberte), you'll get notified of new articles just the same, just a few days later.
With the email list, you get it first.