How to be #1 Product in 2019: Product Strategy [Guide]
Are you a founder, Product Manager, Product Designer, Stakeholder in a product company. Or someone who has something to do with a product's success in general?
No matter if you are a startup or an established company starting a new product, scaling your product or just keeping your product relevant for the market needs.
I know something about you.
Seriously, I do.
You’ve got problems.
Really big problems to deal with, to build a successful product.
How to go from a product in hundreds to be a successful one? This is probably one of the toughest questions, that keeps you up at nights. Still with me?
Most of the teams get too deep into details like getting the user interaction and the visual design right to providing the right functionality and using the right technologies while forgetting about the whole product vision, which is pennies on the dollar. One of the things successful product teams get right in the initial phase is defining the product strategy.
So, today I am going to share about Product Strategy, and I will give you my go-to canvas for defining Product Strategy from ProdUX Labs.
What’s a Product Strategy? and why do you need one?
Most product people get the very core wrong by thinking Product Strategy as a plan, or a to-do list (if I say), but it is not a plan.
When I was starting out as a designer, for the initial part of it, I thought I know tools, and I can use those tools to make things. And as I see with most of the students in technology these days, they are just concerned about making things, but the big question that they completely miss out is how can we use that to solve problems; problems of users and business.
Product Strategy is a system of achievable goals and visions that work together to align the team around desirable outcomes for both the business and your customers.
But, this one is a quite formal definition of Product Strategy. This is what it means to me: Product Strategy defines how we will work day-to-day to accomplish our long-term goals.
Product Strategy is not a set in stone thing, it emerges from experimentation towards a goal. We learn while making the stuff for a particular goal and change our plan as we learn from the market and as our business needs evolve.
Planning is everything, the plan is nothing. ~Dwight Eisenhower
4 things best teams have at heart
I have worked with 12+ product startups, and companies till date. From a team of 5 to a team of 150 people. In this wide range of teams, I got a chance to talk to the stakeholders, co-founders, Designers, and people from different product ownership roles as well, but in all of them the best teams have had four things in common:
- Clear product vision;
- Product strategy;
- Set of priorities (High-value jobs);
- A way to measure outcomes.
What is a Product or Company Vision?
Melissa Perri explained it best when she said:
The vision is your high level, ultimate view of where the company or business line is going. In large corporations, you want to narrow this to the business line or customer journey. In smaller companies, this will be your company and product’s overall vision. Think long term here, and keep it qualitative. This is a good chance to talk about competitors, how customers will see you, and ambitions for expansion.
One of the things, you might have noticed in this post is I started sharing doodles instead of images. Because I am trying to push my doodling skills forward. It’s one of 12 Best things I learned in 2018.
Product Strategy is defined as an intersection of business goals, market needs and the product’s key features.
The Market and Market Needs
The market describes who our target customers and users of your product are. These are the people who are likely to pay for this product to use it.
The market needs are about the problem(s) your product is solving, think about Twitter, it helps people share their thoughts in a word limit of 280 characters, but what if your thoughts have more than one thing?
You guessed it. You have Medium for that. Unsurprisingly the founders of Medium are same as of Twitter. Think of LinkedIn, It helps people to find a job. So, the market needs are the problem you are trying to solve with your product.
The Key Features and the Innovations
For Key features and the innovations, I want to take you back to January 9, 2007. Do you know where I am going with this? - Yeah, that’s exactly what he said too. Okay, let me lay it out for you, this is the date when Steve Jobs launched the first ever iPhone. And, the best part I remember about that whole event is when he said today we are launching an iPod, a Phone and an internet communicator, again and again, that was the launch of the iPhone. Everyone cheered not for the iPhone, but the as Steve broke it down to the Key features, a music player, a calling device and an internet access device.
These are those aspects of your product that are crucial to address the main problem or create the primary benefit and that make people choose it over competitor’s offers. Don’t create a mini backlog or a wish list. Instead, focus on the three to five key aspects that make people buy and use the product.
Another example is the Google Chrome browser, with its focus on speed, safety, and simplicity.
The business goals define how your product is going to benefit your company or the Organization. The benefit could be direct revenue, help sell another product or service, reduce costs, or increase the brand equity?
Once you define the right business goals, it will also help in defining the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which in turn will help you to measure the progress and direction.
Let’s take the iPhone and the Google Chrome browser mentioned earlier. While the iPhone generates the largest portion of Apple’s revenue till date, the Chrome browser does not earn any direct money for Google. But it allows the company to control the way people access the Internet and it has reduced Google’s dependency on third-party browsers such as Opera, Mozilla’s Firefox and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Both are important business benefits.
Now, as you know what Product Strategy is and what it constitutes, here is a set of questions to evaluate your product strategy:
Our strategy should answer the following questions:
- Who the product is for and why people would want to buy and to use it?
- What the product is and why it stands out?
- What the business goals are and why it is worthwhile for your company to invest in it?
As I said, I am going to provide you with a canvas to define your product strategy. So here it is:
My Favourite Canvas: Define the product strategy for your company.
With all the experiences from the products, companies and teams. After evaluating the top 12 factors in Product Strategy and other Product Vision canvas available, I have a favourite canvas, which helps me to break down a big strategy into bite-size questions.
(You can download a blank copy of the Product Strategy canvas here.)
So, head on and design your Product Strategy and Let me know how it solves your problem.
[If you're reading it on Medium]
Thanks for the 50 clap if you enjoyed this article. This will tell me to write more of it! Also, leave your valuable feedback to improve.
Join my Newsletter to get the specially curated content on design, strategy, tips and resources on building successful products.