I’ve been developing software products for over 5 years now. It’s not a very long time, but within these years my team was able to build a product that captured the marketplace and generates positive cash flow for the company. In this blog post, let me share some of my learnings and pointers to build a market-winning product that can be applied to any type of projects (be it a small, medium or large).
A Market Winning Product
What really is a Market Winning Product? Well, any product that wins the market has the following common characteristics.
- It is easy to sell
- It keeps the existing customers happy
- It acquires new customers all the time
- It attracts the competitors’ customers
- It continuously evolves to stay the best
If your product has the above characteristics, Congratulations! you got a market-winning product. If not keep reading.
Get Everybody on the Same Page
You may be building your own product or you are working for somebody else. Either case, You must be sold to your product first. Not only yourself but also your teams i.e developers, QA guys, marketers, CTO, CEO, and everybody else must be 100% sold to the product you build and believe it is the best product that delivers great value to you and the customers.
When everybody in your team honestly believes that your product delivers great value, they will do whatever it takes to make it a winning product. Let me give you an example. If you are a salesperson, wouldn’t that be very easy for you to sell your product if you know how your product delivers value to yourself? You wouldn’t have to use cheap sales gimmicks in the sales process instead share your experience with the customer to close the deal.
Let’s take another example. If you are a developer of the product, wouldn’t that be easy for you to understand the pain points of your product as a consumer? You would also know what new features you’d really love to see in your product as well.
So, if your team believes on the product, everybody will be on the same page and always wanted to make it a winning product. Changing your team’s mindset is the foundation for the success of your product. With that right mindset, everything else mentioned in this post will be easy to achieve.
It’s All about Synergy
Most companies have multiple teams dedicated to a product. One team develop the product, Another team assures the quality of the product, Another team handles operations and another team does sales and marketing of the product. If the teams are synergized, trust and depend upon each other, there will be very fewer conflicts among teams. Everybody thinks they are equals and all that they do is contribute to building a great product that serves people.
Let me give an example, imagine that you are building a “GDPR Compliance Platform”. After the first release, marketers start the marketing process. This tool is new to the marketplace, hence there will be many feedbacks from potential customers. When these concerns are brought forward to developers, they should understand the importance of these new changes in order to convert those leads into actual paying customers. Same time, with regular and transparent communication between the marketing team and the development team, they will have a clear idea about what new features to be developed and what improvements are required. Hence, while marketers promise new features to potential buyers, the development team can focus on implementing the features.
In order to have synergy among teams, it is absolutely vital to have all the teams on the same page. So how to do that, remember the first point, They must be completely sold to the product they are building and do whatever it takes to make it a winning product.
Defeating the Obscurity
Obscurity is the number one challenge to any new product. No matter how great your product and its content is, if people don’t know about it, they will not buy it and your company will eventually fail.
How would you address obscurity? Both the marketing team and the development team must assume responsibility for that. Marketing team must exhaust all mediums to get your product out to the potential buyers. Be it offline marketing or online marketing, they must understand effective marketing strategies and invest the marketing budget on them. For example, it could be social media campaigns, search engine optimization, training videos, events, conferences, and even cold-calling customers.
How can the development team help to defeat marketplace inertia? It’s very important to make the user onboarding process a breeze. Potential buyers must be able to try out the product with minimum entry barrier. For example, users should be able to self sign up for the product (maybe via a trial subscription) and interact with it. They need enough time to build trust and confidence with the product before they make the purchasing decision. Another important area that developers should focus on, is the “User Experience (UX)” of your product. As we all know, the first impression matters. If users that are trying out your product, don’t find it intuitive and easy to use, they will probably pass the deal.
How about the ability of your product to integrate with other major products? When you are starting off, it is absolutely important to build trust with the customers. If you could build partnerships with major players who are already trusted by millions of people, your product and the brand will also prove its trustworthiness. So it is important for your development team to build the product that is easily pluggable with other products with standard integration technologies.
Customer Satisfaction vs Customer Acquisition
Let’s imagine you are in the early stages of your product. You have several paying customers. At this stage, which one is the most important? Existing customer satisfaction or new customer acquisition? In my opinion, customer satisfaction should not even be a concern for your product. Because you and the team have developed a culture within the team, that you always over-deliver to your customers as your team is highly engaged with the product and understands what customers really need and do whatever it takes to accomplish them. Of course, you will receive customer complaints from time to time. While handling them effectively, you should always focus on new customer acquisition simply because you have a strong belief that the customers who aren’t using your product are already unsatisfied and they don’t even know it.
Never be Satisfied, Always Improve
When your product has captured the attention of the market place and acquired many customers, you should never be satisfied with the current state of the product. It’s time to use all the resources within the team if not find/outsource new resources to invest in innovation. You should set the bar so high, where your competition will think that you are out of their league, thus dominate the market place.
When it comes to innovation, you should expand the thinking in all areas of the product. It could be technological innovations such as Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain etc… or It could be UI/UX innovations to improve the usability of the product or it could be anything else really. You and the team must pay attention to new trends in the market that could be mainstream in the future and adjust your product to become the early adopters of that area.
In this blog post, I discussed what it takes to build a product that dominates the market place. Everything starts with a change of mindsets. If you and your team don’t trust and believe your product in the first place, why would anyone else want to buy it? With that changed mindsets of the right set of people in the team, you will find that all the above points are easy to achieve to drive your product to dominate the market place.