One of the books I enjoyed recently reading was Working Backwards. Both authors had a long tenure at Amazon and worked closely with Jeff Bezos in building the company that we see today. There are several strategies within the book that are very helpful for growing companies.
One of my favourite strategies in the book was an internal communication strategy called the PR/FAQ. Given that Amazon has ‘customer first’ as the core ethos, this document made a lot of sense. Whenever a team would pitch a new idea, they would need to write a press release and internal FAQ to all major stakeholders.
The PR document is structured using the following outline:
- Headline: The first sentence of the press release describes the product from a customer angle with simple words.
- Sub-headline: The next part describes the customer for the product and the benefits they would accrue from it.
- Summary: Next, we let the audience know when it will be launching and a few more detail about the product and its benefits.
- Problem: We go deeper into the problem the product is solving and frame it from a customers point of view.
- Solution: Finally, presenting our solution and going into some detail as to how our product solves the customer problem.
- Quotes and Getting Started: Concluding the press release with a fictitious quote from someone on the team and providing a link stating how customers can get more information or buy.
The FAQ component is more for an internal company review. Questions that may have to do with the customer’s needs or market size, the economics of the proposed solution and any dependencies that may be present that may hinder the launch. Some sample questions are:
- How many consumers have this need or problem?
- How big is the need?
- What are the per-unit economics of the device?
- Are there any third-party technologies we are dependent on?
If you are looking to start a new project/company, I would strongly recommend putting together a PR/FAQ and showing it to people. While on the surface, it looks simple, it challenges you in many ways.
Working Backwards is an insider’s breakdown of Amazon’s approach to culture, leadership, and best practices from two long-time, top-level Amazon executives.