How product/market fit met Aristotle

The story about 'products' and the legendary Aristotle's most-famous 'appeals of persuasion' — pathos, ethos, and logos.

Hey you,

Ever wondered about how Aristotle would be shipping new products if he were to be alive today? Well, as much as it sounds funny, I actually caught upon this thought, thanks to my continuous recollection of what it’s like to practise radical candor. Aristotle’s persuasive proofs—composed of pathos, ethos, and logos—are an outstanding proof of how persuasiveness shouldn’t come at the expense of manipulating and conniving.

So, my observation peered into how the same strategy can be applied to product-market fit, because as product people, we obviously don’t want adoption (aka persuasion in a way) without proper morals in the making and shipping.

This made me write an article that talks about how product marketers, managers, and anyone basically working in the product space, can apply Aristotle’s principles to product-market fit.

(And, I’m attaching the entire article here.👇 You can also check it out on Medium.)


If you’re into building, designing, marketing, launching, or selling new products, the term product/market fit is a no-brainer. Well, not to say that it’s easy, for it’s something that’s easier said than done. Put in simple terms, the so-called ‘fit’ is the product’s ability to meet the market i.e. customers’ demands. Well, something like a demand-supply graph then, you may ask? It’s beyond a mere plotting — for what follows with every product’s ideation is a long journey of iterations, satisfactions, negotiations, and ruminations.

“When a great team meets a lousy market, market wins. When a lousy team meets a great market, market wins. When a great team meets a great market, something special happens.”

~ Andy Rachleff, Co-Founder of Benchmark Capital & Wealthfront

Now, read the quote. Read it again. What does it say? The market has a probable chance of winning almost every time (mathematically, closer to a probability of 1), and what really plays a crucial role is how the product team comes into the picture to complement a great market, and make it even more special and noteworthy. The shape that products take is predominantly defined by the market’s personality.

Or, wait, this hilarious depiction of how product-market fit looks like (as quoted on Twitter by Ryan Hoover) is everything you’ll be thankful for:

Products, and the teams behind them, take three main qualities to complement a market’s success and stability — empathy, credibility, and logic. This ‘rule of three’ hints at something the world of literature taught us about! Think hard? The legendary Aristotle and his most-famous 3 appeals of persuasion — pathos, ethos, and logos. Let’s dive in to see how there’s a sync between these two thoughts:

Pathos: Empathetic storytelling and branding

Establishing a brand is complete only when it’s able to contribute to customers’ needs and requirements. Especially, you score a bonus when your brand constantly takes into account the thoughts, interests, emotions of customers. This connection has to happen in two ways — before and after building the product.

Building a convincing product that addresses solid challenges is definitely an arduous task, albeit made a tad simple when you know your market and its capacity. A product should empathetically assure its customers about not only solving their problems but also making their work more meaningful. Right after you build your product, constantly tapping into your market and its conversations will help you stay in the league of victory.

Bernadette Jiwa, the global best-seller author, puts it in the right way,

“Whether you’re a designer at Google or a chocolate maker at Pana — it’s only possible to make things that people want by figuring out how those people want to feel in the presence of your product. You tell better stories by understanding the story the customer wants to tell herself. Caring is part of every job description now.”

When was the last time you incorporated empathetic storytelling for your brand? Time to pause the rest of the work, for you’ve got to start right here!

Ethos: All about being credible and authentic

So you’ve analyzed your market and complemented it with an impactful product — a major part of the ocean crossed! Do you sit back? Well, maybe, when you know your customers are hearing what you convey. Communication is a two-way thing, and just as you empathetically connect with the market, you should also find if the market is reciprocating by listening to you.

How do you do this?

The character behind your product and the team that builds the product is the true validator of your market success. This shows the authenticity and the credibility of your brand, that pushes a listener aka customer forward with keen interest. Monopoly markets are hard to build, but with the unique storytelling and credible positioning, they automatically come into play. One prime thing to keep in mind is how credibility and authority shouldn’t be mixed — show your product really works, stays true to the market’s demands, and is trustworthy, not because you’re authoritative or superior, but because you’re humble enough to listen to customers and make them listen to you.

Logos: Launching with reasonable intent and logic

The value your brand adds to the market and your team adds to the brand — both of these depend on the reasoning behind the product. From what challenges they address to the successful numbers and metrics, logic and the effectiveness of the existence play a larger role.

What you can’t do with vague statements and ambitious plans can be executed with clear facts, figures, and correlations. The “why” behind your empathetic storytelling and the “how” behind customer purchases are both defined by the “what” of your product’s functionality. This technique to prove reasonability helps you both maintain high-growth teams as well as lasting relationships with customers.

With Aristotle unintentionally helping every tech professional fix their challenges, let’s wake up our inner appeals to ace the pathos, ethos, and logos of our products.

(👉 The article is available on Medium too. )


Have a lovely weekend!

Regards,

Aishwarya Ashok