In the marketing world, you often hear of the concept, “Vitamin s. Painkiller.”
We use this concept to describe a product and whether it’s one or the other. If it’s a “vitamin,” then that product is merely a nice-to-have but not a must. It’s like buying a convertible when you already have a nice coupe – you want the convertible only because it would be nice to drive around town with the top down when it’s a nice day out.
Compare this with a “painkiller.” A painkiller is something that you absolutely need to have because the lack of it causes distress and inconvenience in your life.
Let’s look at the same example but now imagine… you just totaled your only car in an accident yesterday and now you’re carless and have no way to get around. That convertible (or any car for that matter) is no longer a “vitamin” – it is now a painkiller because you need to get around.
Painkillers are much easier to market and sell – it solves an immediate problem and fulfills a need right this moment. People will clamor for it and can’t imagine their lives without it. Painkillers practically sell themselves.
Vitamins on the other hand… they are a bit tougher. People’s lives have been fine without them, and they don’t see any immediate benefit in purchasing them. There’s no built in sense of urgency and no immediate gratification to be had.
Both vitamins and painkillers are marketable in the hands of a right marketer – but in this post… I am talking about the third distinction that few talks about.
As a growth hacker who interact with business owners many of whom are startups at the very beginning of their launch, I’ve had this third distinction rear its ugly head now and then. It’s what I like to call an “Enema.”
It’s not a painkiller because there’s no immediate desire for it, and unfortunately it’s not even a vitamin because it has no discernible benefits. It’s an idea that was born out of someone’s imagination who didn’t bother doing the diligence of checking if there’s even a market for it – that people will actually want it and pay for it.
The odds of finding product-market fit is less than finding a three eyed shark… in a dessert, alive…
So to you brave and ambitious entrepreneur – go forth and realize your dream! Seek your fortunes and make a difference in your (hopefully well-intended) product! But do not bank on any growth hacker or marketer to stake their reputation on your enema.