SFR 184: Product Evolution – Stephen Larsen

SFR 184: Product Evolution

Oct 19th, 2018 anchorwave

The goal is to be different, not better…

Have you ever wondered, “What’s the secret sauce needed to make sweet products?”  Products that make people go, “Oh, my gosh, that’s so freakin’ cool!” Products that make people open their wallets and scream, “Take my cash!”

Well, wonder no longer…

Today, I’m going to reveal to you my product design method. The fantastic news is that the product creation game is not as scary as you might think.

Product creation is more formulated than most people realize… And once you learn the formula – it’s not that hard.

Product Creation

Today, I’m gonna show you the essential steps you need to evolve a product that sells.

Oh, Yes! The wait is over ?


While college didn’t teach me how to make money, it did expand my noggin a little bit. There was one particular semester where our only goal was to open a business and make as much money as possible…

Selling empanadas was one of the best marketing lessons I’ve ever had.

Here’s how it happened:

For one semester, we ditched our classes and focused on creating a business.

We were assigned a random industry. And I got stuck in the food niche. Now, I’m a terrible cook. So I was like “Crap, I don’t wanna be in food! Put me in knick-knacks. Put me in e-com. Put me in… anything else!”


(I think my blog writer has too much fun with these pics!)

However, it ended up being the best education of my entire time in college.

Our professors put us into groups of 15 and took us up a super high mountain for 3-days.


I’d always made fun of team building stuff, but those 3 days taught me some techniques and philosophies that I still use to today.

Everyone in the group was assigned a role, then high up in our mountain retreat we fought with each other until we bonded as a team and started producing great ideas.

We used a process called “Form, Storm, Norm, Perform:”

  1. Form = Stage 1: Forming A Real Live Team.
  2. Storm = Stage 2: Storming Into Authentic Connections.
  3. Norm = Stage 3: Norming Out The Kinks.
  4. Perform = Stage 4: Performing At Peak Productivity

We’d  brainstorm cool ideas – which we’d write on a whiteboard:

How to create a product

  • The name of the business.
  • The product.
  • The price point.

We let those ideas flow…


When we got back to college, they said, “Hey, it’s beneficial to start asking your customers about what they wanna buy.” And they started teaching us about design thinking.

Design thinking is how to actually think to design cool stuff.

We had to keep a journal of what we were learning each day which was a combination of how to be creative, mixed with what they called data-driven decisions.

Data Driven Decisions 2

If you’re wondering what a data-driven decision actually? It’s essentially Funnel Hacking. Meaning you go out and see what your competitors are doing.

  • You look at what’s selling.
  • How they’re making money
  • This helps to create a basis to design your own product.

However, there is one huge flaw in data-driven decisions like the Ask Campaign… and it this:



My wife was pregnant, and we were in the hospital to about to have our first baby…

So I thought it would be a great idea to text Noah Kagan (in case you’re wondering – it was NOT a good idea).

Noah had this offer where you could text and ask him a question. So I thought “Why not?” It’s what any sensible person would do when their wife’s on the delivery table, right?

I was like, “Hey dude, I’ve got all this data… I’ve been asking all these people, and I wanna go launch this business. Do you think it’s a good idea?”

*I can’t tell you how many times I get asked this on stage in the Q & A section. “Do you think that’s a good idea?” Well, 5- years ago, I asked that same question to Noah Kagan.

Noah texts back, “I don’t know.”

I was like, “What do you mean you don’t know? I’ve asked all these people, and they say it’s a great product idea… Should I do this?”

Still, he’s like, “Man, I don’t know.”

I got all frustrated – and so did he.

I was like, “Dude, all these people have said ‘Yes.’ I’ve collected tons of data. I’ve done my homework. Should I launch?”

His reply was, “Dude, I don’t know! I let people vote with their wallets not their mouths.”


The data is essential, but it’s not what creates a prolific product. Data won’t take you that extra step. It won’t help you create that next brick.

Data helps you form a somewhat secure base – because you know that other people have sold similar products before.

However, when most people think about designing a product they go ask their friends and family, “Hey, do you think this is a good product?”

My answer is always:

“Are they gonna be the ones buying your product” “No.” “Then why the heck are you asking them?”

It makes no sense to ask anyone if you have a good product if they’re not the ones buying it.

That’s what Noah Kagan was trying to tell me. Thank you, Noah!

Remember, the market pays for your product. You don’t fill your own wallet. The market speaks when it opens it wallet.

So data-driven decisions will only get you so far.



I had a professor, he was the CMO of Denny’s and Pizza Hut. The guy invented stuffed crust pizza… He was the man. He was super cool.

I was voted as the CEO of our college company which meant I had a lot of cool interactions with him. He kind of became one of my first unofficial mentors. I spent a lot of one on one time with him.

One day he walked in and said. “Okay, I’m gonna teach you guys more ways to brainstorm effectively.” We went to a room which had children’s toys all over the place.

There was Play-Doh, Silly Putty, there’s Lincoln Logs, K’nex, and Lego. There are toys all over the place. Any kind of toy you can imagine. The room is filled with ’em. We were like, “What the heck?”

product strategy

He told us to chose one person as the scribe to write the problem we were trying to solve on a whiteboard.

And then we started calling out different solutions.

The professor watched us like a hawk, and if somebody had a negative reaction to any suggestion. If they said, “No, that won’t work!” He would pick up a squirt bottle that he had next to him – shoot it in their face, and yell, “Bad kitty!”

Creative Process

He was trying to teach us that:

Ridiculous ideas are essential in the creative process.

We had to get inside this creative zone where there was no judgment – so all crazy ideas were welcomed.


One of the major reasons that I’ve found why people do not move forward is that they’re afraid that their ideas are stupid. They’re afraid that they’re gonna be exposed as a fraud.


There’s some imposter syndrome going on. “Oh my gosh, people are gonna find out that I’m really not this amazing individual.”

The truth is that when you’re creating a new identity you’re gonna feel like a fraud. It’s part of the journey.

I’ve had imposter syndrome, I totally get that.

But if you want to succeed, you have to give yourself license to go to the crazy zone. You have to go to those spaces where you’re gonna feel uncomfortable.


One night Russell, Dave, Brent, Melanie, and I started writing down cool things that we could offer for a 3-day event package.


We wrote down every crazy idea that we had. No holds barred:

  1. They’re gonna fly into this crazy place called Boise, Idaho.
  2. They’re gonna stay in Russell’s pajamas.
  3. They’re gonna brush their teeth with Stephen’s toothbrush in the morning. Oh yeah, they’re gonna love that, oh my gosh.

These things were just nuts. But even though they were completely ludicrous, we wrote them all down.

After we’d brainstormed, we went back and crossed out everything that was totally unrealistic.

Hmmm, okay…

  1. They’re probably not gonna stay in Russell’s pajamas…
  2. You know what, they’re not gonna use Stephen’s toothbrush, that’s a little weird…
  3. You know what, Russell’s wife’s not gonna make breakfast for them…
  4. They’re not gonna stay at his house…

But when we crossed out all the crazy ideas, what we were left with was a new and prolific product – that no one had ever done before.


The next strategy I want you to understand comes from a book I’ve been enjoying lately called Niche Down.

One of the things I’ve been saying a lot lately is that:

Your whole goal in product creation, in funnel building, and market creation is to be different, not better.

When I ask people, “Why would I buy your product over the next guys?” They default to, “Well, ’cause we have a better this and that.”

When I get this answer, I immediately already know that they’re gonna be strapped for cash because this is not an attractive enough reason for someone to jump. It’s gonna become a price and a feature war super fast:

Your goal is to become different, not better.

In Niche Down, it says,

It comes down to leveraging the exponential value of what makes you different rather than leaning on the incremental value of what makes you better.

I was like “Hallelujah!” I was sitting on a plane when I read that, and I was like “Wooo! That’s exactly it! That’s 100% exactly what I’m trying to say.”

Your product should be different, not better.

It’s a very subtle way to think about this difference, but it’s super important.

I want you to understand that it’s not about going out and creating something that is brand new that nobody’s ever seen before.

Most of the time people say that you need to have a totally brand new thing – something that’s prolific. I call that The Product Big Bang Theory.

Bam! This brand new thing that’s never been seen before pops out – boosh!

The Product Big Bang Theory is risky because it creates a blue ocean that’s so blue that nobody has seen it before. Those kinds of products exist – but they’re risky to develop.

The product is cool, the product serves a real purpose, the product actually solves things, but it’s not marketable because it’s too strange for people to trust or consider.

It’s tough to make money in a truly blue ocean – which is why I love to create purple oceans.

It’s kinda like when the internet became publicly available. It was being used way before that it came into general use, but before 1991, there was no infrastructure for it to exist in the public domain – It was too mind-blowing…

Earth from above

The book Innovator’s Dilemma talks about this very concept – you can go too blue.

So, if it’s not about the Product Big Bang Theory, what is it about?

The answer is Product Evolution.


Product Evolution bike

Product Evolution ties in data-driven decisions with the creative process – so that you can figure out how to make a product that is different, not better.

Most of the time, when people make data-driven decisions, they use data to make them a little bit better than the competition.

That’s great to do once you already own a niche – but it is not the way to dominate.

Here’s the equation:

Data-Data + Creative Process + Product Evolution = Different (not better)


Product Strategy 2

  1. Do data-driven research by looking at other people products, i.e., Funnel Hacking
  2. Take market data – meaning you ask people who will hopefully purchase from you for feedback.
  3. Add ridiculous ideas to create attractive products that are different and talkable.
  4. Create your first iteration of the product.
  5. Sell and see what happens.
  6. Make adjustments based on what your customers did or didn’t like.
  7. Relaunch.
  8. Make more adjustments, and relaunch again.
  9. Adjust and relaunch.

That’s all the game is…

That’s the reason why we say “You’re just one funnel away.” Because honestly, you are:

  • You know you’ve got a good idea.
  • The market’s telling you “Yes.”
  • There’s a place for you to do things differently, not better.

Market Data + Ridiculous Ideas = Good Products

Just rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat, and suddenly it’ll hit. Boom! You’ll have a winning product.

Would it surprise you to know that Secret MLM Hacks is on its 3rd launch? It shouldn’t… Because hardly anyone gets it spot on straight out of the gate…

But most people WON’T keep trying!

If you dedicate yourself to learning the process, and you fall in love with the person that you need to become to design and own your product – only then, do you have what it takes to become a player.

Life’s too short to sell stuff you’re not passionate about.

Until Next Time – Keep Crushing It!


If you’re just starting out, you’re probably studying a lot. That’s good.

You’re probably geeking out on all the strategies also, right? That’s also good.

But the hardest part is figuring out what the market wants to buy and how you should sell it to them, right?

That’s also what I struggled with for a while until I learned the formula. So I created a special mastermind called The OfferMind to get you on track with the right offer, and more importantly the right sales script, to get it off the ground and sell it. Wanna come?

They’re small groups on purpose – so I can answer your direct questions in person for two straight days. You can hold your spot by going to Again, that’s

The post SFR 184: Product Evolution appeared first on Sales Funnel Radio Blog.