How To Use The Hook Model For Building Great Products
The market is filled with so many products, but not all of them are considered to be great, or even halfway good. Every day, new products are being introduced, but only a handful of them succeed. Some become huge hits in the market, stirring up great demands and bringing in high revenues. Unfortunately, many fall in the wayside, are generally ignored by customers and end up not making any money.
This happens for a number of reasons. It could be that the product was not viable to begin with, or the market simply was not interested in it. It is also possible that it was the wrong time to introduce the product because the economy may not be in a good situation, or the competition may be a little fierce at that time.
It is also possible that the market has the high demand for a product, but it still fails to succeed. One reason why this happens is because the business may have failed to make or build a great product.
In this article, we will learn 1) what makes a great product, 2) what the Hook model is, and 3) how to use the Hook model for building great products.
WHAT MAKES A GREAT PRODUCT?
A good product is something that customers would like to buy while a great product is something that will convince them to buy and keep and, most likely, buy again. But what defines a great product? What are the characteristics that will make a product worth the attention (and money) of the market?
- The product should deliver value. This means that the product should have a positive impact on a person’s life. A new kitchen appliance should make the cooking process quicker. A new mobile phone should have features that would make communication easier. It has to have features and functionality that will make one’s life better.
- It satisfies a great need. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers and build something that you would want to use. The product should be able to deliver on a specific value proposition. It has a clear purpose or function.
- Not only does it meet expectations, it exceeds them. By this time, you are aware of what your customers need. However, do not stop there. Go the extra mile and improve the buyers’ experience. The best way to go about this is to have value-added services or activities to enhance the buyer experience. For example, adding a round-the-clock customer service hotline where buyers can have their concerns looked into immediately will definitely boost the product you are selling.
- It should be better than what everyone else is offering. There is no point in coming up with a product that delivers less than what dozens of other businesses sell, is there? As much as possible, the product developed should be just as good as, or even better than, what the competition is offering.
- The product should be simple and user-friendly. Customers are likely to be turned off by products that confuse them. Who wants to pay for something that complicates things? The product should be simple and intuitive, and make things better. A housewife will not spend money on a new kitchen appliance when it will only complicate food preparation, just as a carpenter will not purchase tools that will double the time he takes to perform his tasks.
- It should evoke an emotional response. Customers tend to form a deeper attachment to a product if it is able to stir emotion in them. A brand new car, for instance, will resonate more with customers if it is able to make them feel like they are “driving ahead of the world”. Marketing strategies and advertising programs will have to be made creatively to accomplish this.
- It should be habit-forming. In short, the product should be able to engage a customer’s interest and keep them coming back for more. Longevity, or keeping the products in the minds of customers for a long time, is not enough. Building loyalty is even more important, and that can happen if the product is so great that the customers are seemingly unable to control the impulse to use it.
Keep in mind that it is the customers that decide whether a product is a hit or a miss. It is up to the business to come up with a product that will easily convince the customers to decide that it is, indeed, a great product.
THE HOOK MODEL
How will you go about building a great product? One model that you can follow is the Hook Model.
The Hook Model, which was developed by Nir Eyal, is essentially about getting the customers “hooked” such that they have developed an attachment to certain products. In his book entitled “Hooked: How To Build Habit-Forming Products”, he talks about how companies seemingly control users’ minds and come up with products that are habit-forming.
There are four phases in this cycle: the Trigger, the Action, the Variable Reward, and the Investment.
Phase 1: The Trigger
You need something that will light up that spark of interest. It can be likened to an “itch” that has to be scratched. These are the triggers, and they come in two forms: external and internal. The most common external triggers include people, places, situations, and routines. When we talk about internal triggers, these involve, more often than not, emotions or feelings.
It starts with an external trigger that initially catches the attention of the customers. For example, while browsing through Pinterest, a young lady sees a pinned photograph of a model wearing a pair of sexy stiletto heels from a famous shoe designer. She just got engaged and is starting to plan her wedding. Shopping for a wedding dress and matching shoes is definitely in order, and the name of that designer has been in her radar. Her internal triggers have been activated: she does not want to look shabby or ordinary on her wedding day.
The internal trigger is probably what most businesses find difficult to identify. In the case of a newspaper company, the internal trigger is the fear users have of not being in the loop, or not knowing the current events happening around the country and the world.
Phase 2: The Action
This stage focuses on what the customer will do in response to the trigger. The bride-to-be sees the photograph on her Pinterest feed; if she closes the browser, the cycle is interrupted, and there was no habit formed. If she, however, clicks on the photograph that will direct her to the website where the pinned photograph is, this is the Action.
In order to increase the likelihood that the customer takes action, the action should be:
- Easy to do or perform; and
- Psychologically motivating.
In other words, there has to be an ability on the part of the customer to perform the action (and the product should have been designed to make performance of the action easy) and there also has to be motivation or energy for action.
In the example, the action only entails clicking on the photo, and the photo is appealing and eye-catching enough to want to make her want to find out more. Once she clicks the photograph and is directed to the website, she is presented with a selection of gorgeous pairs of shoes. She feels like she just hit the jackpot. In this case, the motivation was most probably the fear of missing out on seeing products that she might want to use for her wedding.
Action is performed in anticipation of the next phase, which is the Reward.
Phase 3: The Variable Reward
When we talk of “variable reward”, it is that which gives the user what he or she came for, but still leaving him or her wanting more.
This is where the Hook Model truly becomes a “hook”. It should develop a loop and engender a craving in the customer. To accomplish this, businesses make use of variable rewards in order to lure in customers and users.
This phase focuses on one thing: anticipation. The product provider will then take steps in order to hype things up – “up the ante”, so to speak.
If the bride to be clicked on the photograph and is directed to a marketplace website containing only a limited selection of shoes similar to the photo she just clicked, it will not be enough to make her more invested in browsing.
But if, once she clicked and realized that there are more than shoes on the online marketplace, such as clothes and swimwear that would be perfect for a bridal trousseau and honeymoon trip, she will end up spending more than an hour browsing through the products. The next time she needs something related to her upcoming wedding, her instinct would be to check Pinterest or go directly to the online marketplace.
Another scenario would be that the website will only offer limited editions of exclusive designs. This will definitely be seen as a reward because not everyone will be able to score those shoes.
Phase 4: Investment
This is when the customer finally decides to invest something on the product or service. This could be time (regularly checking in on the website), money (making a purchase from the online marketplace), data (submitting product reviews on the online marketplace), or social capital (sharing about the website to friends or on various social networks she belongs in).
More than about spending money, the investment phase is about an action that will potentially improve the service for the next run through the cycle. In short, users invests something on the product not because of immediate gratification, but because they expect to benefit from it in the present and well into the future.
In the case of the bride-to-be, sharing about the online marketplace could mean inviting other friends also to check it out. The referrals can earn her points that will definitely improve her experience the next time she uses the service again. On Pinterest, she may also create her boards, and the act of setting up her board, while pinning and re-pinning other boards, is already considered a form of investment.
Fortunately for businesses, product developers and marketers everywhere, humans are naturally inclined to be curious and pursue answers once their interest has been piqued. Once they have been hooked, they would want to know more. They can play on this natural response and employ the Hook Model to reel the potential customers into buying their products.
USING THE HOOK MODEL FOR BUILDING GREAT PRODUCTS
Turning regular products into habit-forming products may seem like a daunting thought, but it can be done, and the Hook Model is one way of doing so. Granted, there are products and business models that do not really require the formation of habits. More often than not, though, they are.
Essentially, by using the Hook Model, you will be creating a strong wanting, desire or craving in your customers, such that they will come to notice your product, invest in it, develop an attachment, and keep coming back to it. To a certain extent, it may be said as “manipulating your customers’ perception”, which can swing both ways. However, it is not really manipulation if you are able to deliver on each one of your product’s selling propositions, is it?
Illustrations of the Hook Model are often used on products such as online communities and websites, apps and gadgets. However, the concepts also apply to offline products.
If you plan to use the Hook Model in order to establish a firm foothold for your product or service, take note of the following:
Employ both external and internal triggers, and make sure they are aligned.
Some businesses make use of external triggers such as e-mails, online advertisements, apps, discussions, connections, sharing content, and even tweets. In order to fully utilize internal triggers, you have to find out what people (your target customers) are already trying to do, and just make it easier for them.
In the example of the online marketplace earlier, the external trigger was the photo on Pinterest. It could just as easily have been an online ad appearing on her Facebook newsfeed, or a comment on a post on wedding dresses and shoes in a bridal-themed blog. Knowing that prospective brides will be checking in at the site, they also started offering other bridal-themed items, making it easier for their target customers to get everything that they need in one place.
When employing these triggers, make sure they are aligned. They must complement each other, and be engaging or catchy enough to encourage them to answer a call to action.
Make it easy for users to take action.
In the example used previously in the discussion, the action involved a single click on the photograph and a series of simple clicks that will lead to the online marketplace. There really is nothing complicated about it. Customers will be turned off when they have to jump through hoops in order to get the information that they want.
The online marketplace should put great attention in designing a user-friendly interface for its website. Remove barriers and put in place mechanisms that are simple enough but still encourage users to take action.
Offer incentives, and they must be fulfilling.
This is to motivate users or customers to invest data, effort, social capital, or money in your product. What additional perks will they get if they stick around on the website? What are the rewards that they are likely to get if they invest money? If they send in reviews? If they refer friends and family to the website? Add to their buying experience to keep them coming back for more.
When designing the rewards, make sure they are “rewarding”, in every sense of the word. According to Nir Eyal, the most frequently overlooked phase of the Hook Model is the Investment phase. Companies successfully come up with triggers that eventually motivate users to take action and check out their products. They even manage to get these users to spend their money on these products. However, after that, the users are sent on their way. The companies fail to “re-engage” the customers after they have already taken the money.
One way to re-engage the customers is to find ways that will encourage the customers to check back in again.
Putting the Hook Model to good use means that the business is able to keep its customers interested or engaged in its products or services. If the business makes an effort to get a full understanding of habit-formation, the chances of it being able to build and offer great products are definitely higher. They are also able to establish more competitive advantage since they have greater chances of building up a loyal customer base.
In Mountain View (CA), we meet co-founder and CEO of Peel, Thiru Arunachalam. Thiru talks about his …
The first two steps of the Customer Development model are all about learning and discovery. In the …