Let Yourself be Ugly

There's a mildly amusing site called 419eater.com where users mess with the Nigerian scammers by feigning interest and asking them to do dumb stuff to verify that they are real.
There’s a mildly amusing site called 419eater.com where users mess with the Nigerian scammers by feigning interest and asking them to do dumb stuff.

Nigerian scammers have been sending unsolicited emails since the beginning of the internet. A purported prince or some such typically claims that he needs to deposit tens of millions into the target’s bank account. You’d think they would be able to come up with a better storyline by now, or at least hire a literate copywriter. But the emails are intentionally written with an improbable premise and poor English. The Nigerians want to filter out all but the dumbest idiots so they can focus attention on their target marks.

An early iteration of a new product should look similarly crappy. Version 1.0 doesn’t need to sway the skeptics, it just needs to find the customers who already believe in the product. Look at how ugly airbnb was back in 2007:

airbnb2007

Airbnb was able to find the users who loved the product in spite of its Totally 80s color scheme. These were the true believers, the innovators, and it’s important to identify them. Trying to please the masses right out of the gate is a good way to fail.

Slide12B

Isn’t that why relationships fail? Participants enter the dating phase with their best faces forward, eager to please a potential spouse. Then the months pass, the game face comes off, and two incompatible individuals are miserably attached in an unwillingness to write off sunk costs.

first_date

Put the ugliness forward at the start and filter out the intolerant. Do you have a jealous streak that you plan to tamp down for the first 3 months? Are you keeping a colostomy bag under wraps? Lay it all out on the table from day one and save yourself a whole lot of time. You’ll thank me later.

comfortable

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