Backing up your claims

At a recent event, a speaker was making claims about how what they were building was totally new to the market and nobody else had done it. They also went on to say that they had been specifically selected to build this new thing for a major software house. As a listener to the talk and with in-depth knowledge of the target market this new thing was aimed at, I knew of actual examples of companies already doing what the speaker spoke about and also of instances where it was being used in business. I didn’t address it publicly but went to speak to the person later privately and no matter how many examples I had, all my information was overruled and dismissed.

It made me wonder, how much research the speaker had done to make the claims they made. First mover advantage and those claims tend to be for first movers for real, not for followers of a trend. At least that is my opinion.

I find it hard to make big claims without evidence for everything we do, where possible I look for research to confirm our thinking or dismiss it for a different approach. It is why I advise any company we work with to do their research and test extensively what works or doesn’t.

If we can’t find any evidence from other sources, we tend to A/B test and explore options to find out what is the most effective way forward for all users and everyone involved.

I cringe when I hear we have achieved 300% improvement in an initiative. I always wonder, compared to what really? Just like I cringed, when the speaker made claims I knew were actually untrue. Maybe it’s modesty, maybe it’s being overly harsh, but I personally believe it is also what I see as wrong in business. False claims becoming make belief.

I think current technology allows us to test and build data analysis to verify our designs, hunches and substantiate our claims. Ideally, they work in our favour, but when they don’t we need to listen and analyse what would make it better, more inclusive, more engaging, more pervasive, etc.

Here is what I would suggest doing when you are making claims about your product or service, look for research that either confirms or rejects what you are aiming to do. This gives you an educated view and can handle objectives. Equally, check whether you have competition in your space or someone has created something very similar. Having competition and being aware of what they do, is a good thing, it means there tends to be a market for your service.

If you then want to go a bit further and back up your product claims, then partner with a university or independent research body to have your product tested for the claims you want to make. Their independence is important. Having your clients doing the talking about the claims you make is even better also. 3rd party endorsement has been powerful for years.


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