I’ve been running an experiment for the past year. Every time I catch up with an entrepreneur friend, I’ll ask them:
“What do you think makes a great product? What criteria are you looking for when you’re creating or promoting a product?”
These are all seven- to eight-figure e-commerce brand owners.
Here are some of the paraphrased answers that I’ve gotten.
- Customer Research: We survey and talk to our customers on the phone. We’re trying to figure out their biggest pain points and see how we can improve our products to address them.
- Data: Everything’s based on Amazon data. We use different tools to identify gaps in the market. Where is there a high search volume, but low competition?
- Reverse Engineer Competitors: I’ll look at what’s selling well for my competition. If it’s selling for them, then there’s already a product-market fit. But I’ll work with a manufacturer to see if there’s any way to improve the product so that we’re not just copycats.
- The Math: I’m looking for either high average order value / low frequency of purchase OR low average order value / high frequency of purchase. The math has to work out since we’re running paid traffic.
If you’re a seasoned marketer, then I’m sure you’re familiar with these concepts.
However, there was one concept that I don’t think most marketers are familiar with. This is what my friend said:
“I won’t launch any product unless there’s a unique mechanism.”
So many people are focused on conversion tactics or trying to find the latest Shopify apps. But it’s kinda like putting lipstick on a pig.
The most important thing in business is to have a desirable product. The question becomes: what makes a product desirable?
Its unique mechanisms. They are the best ways to differentiate yourself from the competition and tap into their buying desires.
I’m going to explore what a unique mechanism is, why it’s so important, and how we can utilize this concept.
This is one of the most important mental models in marketing.
What Are Unique Mechanisms?
Whenever someone loses a significant amount of weight, our first instinct is to wonder how they did it.
The how is the mechanism.
Did they run?
Count their macros?
Take a new miracle supplement?
And you wouldn’t get too excited if you heard that they exercised or watched their diet. While those methods are tried and true, they’re also boring. Chances are people have tried those mechanisms before and failed.
We’re all hoping to find secrets that help us reach our goals faster and involve less pain.
Imagine hearing, “I lost weight by eating steak and bacon every day.” This is mind-blowing for anyone who hasn’t heard about the Atkins or the keto diet.
A unique mechanism is a “how” that they’ve never seen before.
Why Unique Mechanisms are Crucial
What’s the psychology that makes unique mechanisms so powerful?
First, people have tried the normal means and failed. They feel guilty that they weren’t able to lose weight through exercise and dieting.
So by pointing fingers at carbs, it alleviates their guilt. Carbs were the real enemy all along.
Second, you’re giving them HOPE. This is an underrated emotion when it comes to motivation.
Just because they’ve failed at losing weight multiple times doesn’t mean that they’ve given up on their desires.
Sharing a unique mechanism means you’re giving them hope that they can still do this.
Finally, people love novelty. This is why bright shiny object syndrome exists. It’s difficult for your average to focus on a project long enough to get results. It’s easier to jump onto a different solution.
People have more choices than ever before when it comes to products.
Creating a unique mechanism in your product is a way for it to easily stand out and differentiate yourself from your competitors.
If you don’t have a true differentiator, then people are just going to go for the cheapest alternative. If you choose to compete on low price, then it becomes a race to the bottom.
Examples of Unique Mechanisms
I’m going to go through different examples of unique mechanisms.
This should be the first stage when you’re creating a business or product. Ask yourself, what are you offering that’s new to the market?
Ear Wax Remover. I hate earwax. I don’t want anything getting between me and Justin Bieber’s greatest hits while I’m working.
So for years, I’ve been using a combination of Q-Tips and “ear drops.” I saw a Facebook ad for an ear wax removal product that had a built-in camera!
You can download the app and watch yourself cleaning your ear!
Breakdown: People love sticking things in their ear, but it’s ineffective and dangerous. Adding in a camera makes people feel safer sticking something in there.
LMNT. I love electrolyte supplements to help keep me hydrated. I take LMNT daily. Their unique mechanism is the dosage of ingredients.
I took a look at my old electrolytes. They only contained 100mg per serving. These contain 1000mg!
Breakdown: It’s unique in the dosage of ingredients. They convinced me that sodium is good for you, and they’re the only ones who have that high of a dosage.
Meeting Women (or Men): One of my friends was a pickup artist. He created different products to help men meet women.
While brainstorming products, he realized that the market was moving towards dating apps like Tinder. Guys were struggling with getting “matches.”
Breakdown: So his unique mechanism? It doesn’t matter if you’re not good-looking. You can still get plenty of matches if you create the right profile and use the right opening “Tinder” lines.
Peace Out Pimple Patches: People HATE acne. My entire week would be ruined whenever I got a pimple in college.
And most products would be either salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide cream. A product that has been trending lately is pimple patches. You stick them on the pimple before you go to bed.
The appeal is that it’s way easier than smearing cream on your face and then washing your hands.
Breakdown: Putting the solution on the patch is a unique way of applying it. It reminds me of supplement gummies.
Coming up with a Unique Mechanism
So how do you come up with a unique mechanism? One way I think about it is to use a checklist.
- A unique ingredient: Mushrooms in coffee via FourSigmatic.
- A unique combination of ingredients: see LMNT.
- Unique dosage: Deathwish is the strongest coffee in the world.
- A unique process: Take any Facebook or funnel marketing agency. Take the process, give it a “name”, and market based on it.
- Unique Application: Want to boost your immunity? Chew gum.
- Superior Quality: Kettle & Fire uses grass fed cow bones simmered for 20+ hours.
- Technological innovation: Adidas with the Ultraboost technology in their shoes.
Anytime I come across an interesting product, I’ll ask myself, “What’s the unique mechanism here?” It’s an easy way to build your marketing muscle.
So now that you know how important a unique mechanism is, how do you come up with one?
I recommend you read this article that I wrote a few months ago. It goes into some of my mindsets.
How do you figure out your unique mechanism?
I’d first do some customer research and figure out what their top pain points are.
There are so many ways to do this. My two favorite methods are:
1. Hang out where the audience lives. Join subreddits, Facebook groups, and forums. Eavesdrop on the conversations. What are people complaining about?
2. Look up the problems of existing solutions. Read the negative reviews. Complaints = opportunity.
Your unique mechanisms need to address problems. Rainbow-colored protein powder is a unique mechanism, but does anyone care?
After you find the top pain points, you need to see if you have the resources to provide a solution.
Here’s a quick example.
People want to prevent wrinkles on their faces. Common solutions are botox and different skin creams.
SOLUTION /W UNIQUE MECHANISMS:
I did some research and saw that LED therapy masks are trending. This product helps prevent wrinkles through LIGHT therapy.
That’s a unique mechanism right there. The majority of people haven’t tried this yet. You can’t just sell what everyone else is selling though. You won’t have an advantage over existing products.
Instead, see how you can improve the product. I’d go to Amazon reviews or YouTube reviews to see what the problems are.
Here are the top two that pop up:
- They are heavy and uncomfortable. The mask leaves indentations on people’s faces.
- The design looks like something out of a horror movie.
There’s a market for a mask that is lighter weight and has a better design. I’d talk to manufacturers to understand the costs involved in creating a product such as this.
This sounds like it would do so much better than another anti-aging skin creme.
Final Thoughts on Unique Mechanisms
Your customer has a problem.
They’re looking for solutions. Chances are, they’ve already tried the most common solutions.
You have to offer them a different method to figuring out their problem.
I’m always trying to get better sleep. I already have most sleeping supplements, a weighted blanket, and a comfortable pillow.
I’ve bought several things recently to help me out with my sleep:
- An Oura Ring – This ring measures and tracks my sleep. Most sleep trackers go around the wrist. The unique mechanism is a ring that is more accurate.
- Klova – These are sleep patches that release supplements. The unique mechanism is the application.
I’m on a never-ending journey to improve my sleep. Just like how some people are on journeys to become better parents or to be healthier.
Creating a unique mechanism in your product will help you stand out from everyone else.