Upgrade Your Users, Not Just Your Product

🧑‍🎨 Creator(s)
🗓️ Publish Date
February 2, 2005
📚 Publisher(s)

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Learning is a drug. To the brain, learning new things is inherently pleasurable.

So if markets are conversations, why not use the conversation to help someone learn?

A lot of the marketing-folks-with-a-clue have begun talking about the need for brands (or whatever comes after brands) to offer something more meaningful to users. Just yesterday Hugh talked about the marketing-spirituality thing, and Evelyn blogged on purpose-driven marketing.

The consensus seems to be that a user/customer today wants something to believe in. To be part of something bigger than himself. But if you're a customer looking for something to believe in, and you're looking Out There, why couldn't that bigger-than-you thing be... a better YOU.

What better way to give your users the "I Rule!" experience than to help them learn new things... maybe things that stretch them in ways they never dreamed possible. While you're upgrading your product to version 2.0, why not help upgrade the user's brain. Why not help build Person 2.0.

I bought a Nikon Coolpix 5700 because I wanted to get a little more serious about my photos--to do something a step beyond point-and-shoot. I wanted to learn more about photography. It's certainly in Nikon's best interest to help me get hooked on photography, because next thing you know... I'll be buying the extra lenses, and then pretty soon I'll have to get a better camera, and on it goes. IF they can get me to become passionate not about the camera, but about photography.

So they provide photography lessons on their site. Sure enough, I'm getting sucked in. I almost whipped out my credit card for a new lens just during the time I was researching this : )

And what you teach doesn't have to be about what you sell, if your product doesn't lend itself to something people could truly become passionate about doing. We talked about this with the garbage bag thing earlier. Yes you could teach them about issues around garbage, but perhaps it's more motivating to teach them how to make a mockumentary about the issues around garbage. Teach them something that might not be perceived as quite so cool, in the context of something that is. So maybe it's not so crazy for a company that makes garbage bags to teach video editing and movie-making, and help people have an outlet for those new skills. The Digital Garbage Film Festival.

Skyler learned to make her switcher parody on the Howard Dean site. Yes, the site was encouraging people to make "I switched to Dean" ads, that you could vote on, and the site included a complete set of instructions on how to make one. Storyboards, lighting techniques, everything.

Part of what we're trying to do on the Passionate Users blog is encourage people to use learning as a tool of choice in inspiring users, because it works. Learning is one of the fundamental reasons games are so engaging. For most games, the moment you have nothing left to learn is the moment you become bored and move on. Most teachers know that real self-esteem doesn't come from people thinking you're good at something... it comes from actually being good. Almost any activity gets better and better the more you improve, the improvement is nearly always a result of learning.

Musicians know this. Snowboarders know this. Programmers know this.

The more you learn, the better you are at something. The better you are, the more engaging it is. If you can help people have more of that feeling, they won't talk about how good you are-- they'll talk about how much they kick ass.

And that's a powerful formula for creating passionate users.

Helping someone become more than they were before is a wonderful gift to users and to the world. If your customers are older, they might not even realize they're still capable of learning so much, or that the new brain research on plasticity shows it's almost never to late to even become an expert at something new. You could change a life in a really cool way.

Now I want to see Microsoft help teach me to hack my XBox. Now THAT would be a turn-on... ; )