A few months ago, I attended a marketing bootcamp hosted by Sequoia Capital. It was an all-day, invitation-only event with speakers and discussions with fellow amazing B2C and B2B startups. One of my favorite presentations was by Othman Laraki, former VP of product and growth at Twitter. 

Othman shared his wisdom about a range of topics, but there was one piece of advice that was particularly memorable: You want your product to become part of the user's habit and part of their routine.

Many of today's most successful consumer products are designed to trigger automatic behaviors that re-engage users without prompt. The idea of understanding user habits isn't new, but it's growing in importance and is often referred to as the habit startup.

For example, here is what my morning looks like. My alarm rings and I hit snooze. It rings again — I hit snooze again. When it rings the third time, I turn it off, and open the Facebook app to scroll through my newsfeed. Similarly, my coworker mentioned that every morning, he checks Twitter before getting out of bed.

And we're not alone in this habitual behavior. In fact, 48% of 18-34 year olds check Facebook when they wake up and 28% do so before even getting out of bed.


When you link your product to a trigger, it becomes incredibly powerful because habits tend to continue and take conscious effort to change. Using your product becomes ingrained behavior that's now part of their routine. There are some products and services that lend themselves to this idea better than others. 

But even if your company is, for example, a niche B2B brand that people use less frequently, there are still ways to be top of mind. You want to be the first brand that people think of and automatically reach for. This can be established through advertising and content marketing. It's not just what you do, it's whether people know that you do it. That is why there will always be a need for advertising and marketing. It just shows up in different forms. Now, thankfully, it's becoming less intrusive and more relevant with the growth of content marketing and real-time, interactive advertising. 

Sometimes getting to the user first is important. Regardless of how they find out, you want users to have a vague association with you instead of your competitors. Why is this important? I'll use another example: my experience with Lyft.

Since I downloaded Lyft earlier this year, it's been my go-to whenever I need a cab. I realized how convenient it was, so I downloaded competitor apps, Uber and Sidecar. Those apps are also intuitive, have pleasant drivers, and have an affordable price point. But I realized that most of the time, I still get a Lyft. Or rather, I try Lyft first and usually there aren't any drivers, at which point I turn to one of the other apps. 

Why is this the case? I'm not particularly loyal to Lyft. If UberX or Sidecar were cheaper, I would probably use them more. But since Lyft was my first experience in the category of personalized cab services, it set my expectations. They became my "normal," and any other product afterward became a deviation from the norm, and something I would have to get used to.

Another difference: Lyft is on the front page on my phone, which makes it only a tap away. If I want to access the other sites, I have to swipe to the next screen on my phone, then tap on the app icon. Any additional barrier in the number of steps a user has to take could prevent them from using your product. So getting there first and capturing mindshare is important because sometimes it's not about your product features, but more about timing.

Getting consumers to adopt your product is about understanding user habits, content marketing to make sure people know you exist, and reducing barriers. Our world has too many distractions — too many products and apps and ads — all competing for our attention. Marketers and product marketers must think: How do we go from being a "nice-to-have" to a "need-to-have"?