How to build a killer product strategy
A well-defined product development strategy is undoubtedly the secret to building a successful company. Whether developing a new product or revamping an existing one, a clear vision, goals, and initiatives make all the difference. A clear roadmap that accounts for the rightful resources and an apt timeline are a must.
Once the high level roadmap is clear, you have all the flexibility in the world to add features or other tweaks along the way. As product management specialist Steve Johnson famously said “roadmaps are evidence of strategy. Not a list of features”.
Building a killer product strategy doesn't have to be complicated, but it should be time-consuming, as a good strategy is the antidote to chaos in a sea of unpredictability. Now, let's look at some of the key elements needed for a winning product strategy.
A detailed product strategy should define what the company wants to accomplish with the product and how it plans to do so. In essence, there are three key elements of a brilliant product strategy.
A product without a solid vision ends up going nowhere. Vision provides a clear picture of where you are headed with your product. It explains the product's target audience and how solving their problems will move your business forward. It’s crucial to determine how different ideas can be connected to the overall strategy. Or maybe they shouldn’t be included at all. To quote Harvard University economist Michael Porter, “the essence of strategy is choosing what not to do”.
Product goals include specific objectives that your strategy must meet to succeed. They provide a roadmap for teams to prioritize features and fixes relevant to what you aim to achieve. Goals are quantifiable, so you should have a timeframe for each goal.
Initiatives are high-level efforts needed to help you achieve your specific goals. They include major investment areas focused on meeting your product objectives. Your initiates should prioritize work that will bring the most value to your business.
So, you know what a winning product strategy should entail. Let us now dig deeper into the steps of formulating a killer strategy.
By now, you know what vision, goals, and initiatives entail. Your product vision will guide you throughout your strategy. It enables you to look back and check whether you are on the right path, and you can change direction wherever you go wrong. Your vision should be inspiring, motivating, and backed up with realistic expectations.
The product goals include all the things you want to achieve within a specific time. You should be bold and ambitious when setting your goals and ensure they are realistic and achievable within your timeframe. Once you have a clear vision and goals, the next is to define the high-level efforts that you should undertake to achieve them.
As already mentioned, your initiatives should focus on achieving your objectives and areas that will bring more value to your business. Setting your vision, goals, and initiatives will also help you determine your product roadmap.
With the current economic state, having a well-defined target market is imperative in product management. When you target a specific audience, it does not mean you are excluding those who do not fit within your criteria. Rather, it helps you focus your marketing efforts on a place where your product will solve a problem.
It is a more affordable and effective way to reach your potential customers and grow your business. So, to determine your target market, you need to do some analysis. Find out who your competitors are targeting and identify any niche that they might be overlooking, and grab the opportunity.
Identifying a market gap will be a great chance to create a product that fills it and define your target audience. You can even go a step further to find out who your competitors' customers are and interview a few to understand them well. With the information, you can create products that solve their vital needs. By the time your product is ready, it will find a ready market.
A minimum viable product (MVP) refers to an early product version designed to ensure that the product vision and strategy match the current market needs. The biggest advantage of MVP is that it allows product managers to test the effectiveness of their product and the value it offers to the target customers.
You can get some testers within your target, examine their interaction with the product and probably get their feedback. MVP also minimizes wastage of resources in the event that the product does not fit in the market. So, once you are sure that your product solves certain problems for your target audience, you can move to the next step.
The modern business landscape is highly competitive, and the way to be successful is to stand out against your competitors. While most products are stuck in the sea of sameness, you should ensure that yours delivers a unique value to your target audience. In some cases, your competitors may be solving the same problem but with a different product.
Therefore, you should not build to compete, but to win.
As Peter Thiel put it, “you don’t want to be the hundredth restaurant in Palo Alto or the fourth online pet food company or even the tenth solar panel company. Why? Because the competition will make it very very hard for you to differentiate.”
So, your main aim should be to offer the best value to not only remain competitive, but take out competition altogether. When your product meets the customers' expectations, they will always come back to you even when the price is higher than your competitors. But you can also attract more customers by offering competitive prices. You should also identify any possible market changes and be ready with an effective strategy to remain relevant and competitive.
Key performance indicators are vital to every business as they help to gauge the progress of specific objectives. While building your strategy, you should develop measurable KPIs that will give you quantifiable ways to determine if you are on the right path. If not, you will have a chance to make corrections before it's too late.
Note that your KPIs should always align with your product objective. So before setting your metrics, you should clearly understand what you want to accomplish.
At this point, you can now translate the steps into action. This could include letting your team understand your goals and initiatives of your products. You can gauge their interest and be open to any additional ideas that they may have.
Once your product is out in the market, you will want to measure your progress based on the KPIs. In the end, you will accomplish your vision and objectives and ultimately meet customer satisfaction.
Do you need help in building a dynamic product strategy that will deliver positive outcomes and grow your business? We are a team of serial entrepreneurs and seasoned product managers who are here to help you solve pain points and scale towards success. Get in touch!