There is never a shortage of product ideas. Whether good or bad, ideas come from anywhere. The challenge comes when deciding which ideas to pursue and which to postpone or leave behind.
Say you’re a startup with specific budget to staff six months of work. How do you choose what’s the most important work to discover, define, design, and develop to get to that next round of funding? It seems obvious to work on the most important things first. However, so many companies struggle with understanding what’s a critical need versus a want, and what can wait.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a tangible approach to put your company in a position to determine where things fall on the priority list?
The team at Vokal has worked with many entrepreneurs and seasoned business leaders to help them prioritize and execute effectively. The tactics below will allow you to formulate a compelling product strategy that’s firmly aligned with the needs of your business.
Know your business’s objectives
Work with your primary stakeholders to understand your business goals and rank them in order of importance. If you are the stakeholder, ask yourself what you really need to accomplish to help your business succeed. Some examples:
- Have you achieved product market fit?
- Do you need to accelerate growth to reach a particular number of users?
- Are you competing in a crowded space and need to achieve differentiation?
- Have you experienced retention issues that suggest the need for a course-correction or a new path forward?
A prioritized list of business objectives makes it easier to formulate a strategic plan that aligns all efforts to the most important goal. Any efforts that do not align are easier to de-prioritize.
Know your constraints
Common constraints are budget and time. With these, it is critical to use your resources efficiently. It’s tempting to delay getting a first iteration to market by spending extra time adding features or perfecting the design. Considering market timing can make or break a startup, these delays can really hurt.
At Vokal, we work with clients to identify their Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and educate them on the benefits of an iterative approach. Applying this principle yourself will this enable you to get your product out the door faster.
How do you do that? Think about the most important problem to solve. Solve for just that in the simplest way possible and on a single platform. You’ll prove your concept in a cost efficient way and be able to adjust what’s built on the next platform based on what you learn from the first.
New products are going to need changes. Why hold yours back? Keep it lean and get it out there!
Know your user data
Once your product is launched, it is important to focus on user acquisition, retention, and engagement. Rapidly acquiring users you don’t engage or retain will put you on a different course of action than not having users at all. Focus efforts in the right areas by knowing which metrics are up or down.
Get some user feedback
Once you know what users are doing with your product, discover why they are doing it. This allows you to verify or refute assumptions on what’s valuable. Good questions to start with are:
- What was the initial intent for using your product?
- Are you fulfilling that need?
If you have assumptions on what people are getting out of your product but the data says you’re losing users, getting feedback will help you understand where you’re missing the mark. It’s also possible your competitors are doing something better.
Learning more about your users directly from them is an opportunity to rediscover their pain points. You may realize that adding a crucial new feature or making a simple design change will help you grow your user base or increase revenue.
Know what success looks like
Finding common ground with your stakeholders on what success looks like will enable you to level-set on what “good” means. Setting these expectations early and communicating progress often is one of the most important things you can do.
For example, how many users do you need to acquire in the next six months to consider user acquisition a success? Having tangible targets to hit will help when new feature requests come in, especially if these new ideas won’t help your primary objective.
Prioritization is a delicate mixture of art and science, and it’s not easy. Combining the above factors can spark radical changes in thinking about your product, thus enabling you to craft a firmer path forward with a product strategy of which to be proud.
If you’re interested in finding out how Vokal can help you and your business, please reach out to us here.