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Three Things You Can Learn from Optical Illusions in less than Three Minutes

November 3, 2012

Why is the old lady looking down? Image

Lesson 1:  Unprompted, people viewing this image divide fairly evenly between those who see an old lady looking down, and those who see a young woman looking away.  But mentioning the old lady in the question dramatically skews the results.

When you’re trying to discover customers, avoid asking questions that predispose the customer to a certain answer.

Image

Where are these people sitting?

Lesson 2: This was a test done by Robert Laws, a doctor who ran a Scottish mission in what is now Malawi during the 1800s.  In general, Westerners see a family sitting in a room, with the corner in the background and a window looking on to some vegetation. But when Laws showed East Africans the picture, they saw a family group sitting outside, with a tree in the background and a box or basket sitting on one woman’s head.

You imagine you know your product, but a customer might know something completely different. You could be Starbucks selling coffee, while your customers are buying a warm indoor social space to hang out, that happens to serve coffee.

ImageWhat’s the difference between market demand and product?

Lesson 3:  Nothing.  What your customer needs, and the way she needs it presented, are the exact mirror-image of the product you need to build.

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