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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Lerner

How Popsa grew 100X by finding language/market fit

A few weeks ago, I warned against positioning your product as “fast” or “easy” since vague platitudes can leave prospects guessing (and hitting the back button!). Here’s a great example of what to do instead.

How Popsa grew 100X by finding language/market fit

Popsa, a photobook app, just raised $12M in a round led by Gresham House Ventures, but things weren’t always rich and rosy.

When I first met the founders, they had a very common problem: Customers loved their product (great retention and repeat rates), but getting new customers was expensive. Conversion was low and CPAs were breakeven at best.

Popsa was a “better mousetrap” product - yet another entry into a crowded category. But their product was really fast and easy. So, naturally, their headline was “fast easy photo books.” And nobody cared.

But when our team started working with them, we changed their headline to “Photobooks in 5 minutes.” The result? Their conversion rate quadrupled, lowering CPAs by 75%. Game changer! But why? How did we know to make that specific change?

We didn’t. We had no idea, but we knew how to run the language/market fit playbook:

  1. Customer interviews: "Jobs to be done” queries to find out what’s in their customer’s heads. We learned that people love getting photo books, but hate making them. So “fast/easy” makes perfect sense, right?

  2. Paper testing: Next, we ran “paper tests” on the headline to check if people understood what it meant. People read “fast/easy” and thought that meant it would “only” take 3 hours. They didn’t really understand what “fast/easy” meant. So we tried some new headlines, and “Photobooks in 5 minutes” got the message across.

  3. Quant testing: They changed the title of their app store listing to “Photobooks in 5 minutes.” I’m not gonna lie, we’re all pretty stunned when installs quadrupled overnight.

Key takeways

How to position against an established category: If you have a “better mousetrap” type of product, a new entrant into an established category (e.g. Netflix, Warby Parker, Casper, Lemonade), it’s not enough to say “fast” or “easy” or “convenient.” Customers already harbor so much cynicism about the category so your claims will sound hollow. Instead, you need to be very clear and definitive. Try calling out the struggle, or being ultra-specific in describing your key advantage, like Popsa did.

Measure twice, cut once: No mater what you suspect, follow the process, do the interviews, check comprehension, and run the tests.

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