We’re living in a digital gold rush and everybody feels like a prospector. With fantasies of great fortune being born from a great idea, there is an overwhelming push to get something to market as quickly as possible… before somebody else beats you to it. This breakneck speed leads to poor business decisions, far too many assumptions and a marketplace riddled with products have no discernible usability.
Here at Centresource, we start any product build by guiding our clients through a variety of exercises to help us to identify the product’s viability and essential feature set.
Ideal Customer Profile: Never assume that your product idea is so wonderful it will appeal everyone. If you do not focus your product towards a particular audience group, you will serve no one. Our ideal customer profile exercise helps you identify not only your most important primary audience member, but also your earliest adopters, and those who will be the most positive advocates for your product. Any product has the chance to grow into a universally appealing item, but we urge everyone to start specific, selective and smart.
Product or Service Profile: It’s important to know what your product does, but it’s just as important to remember what your product does not do. Keeping focused on the most essential function or service your product provides allows you to move to market as safely and smartly as possible. Again, you will always have the opportunity to scale and pivot as user needs dictate.
Positioning: This exercise asks the simple question: Why should your ideal customer care about your product? The process of answering this question helps you unlock the emotional angle of your product, as well as uncovering an end user’s potential objections to buying or converting. Figuring out how to help your end users overcome these objections — whether it’s through marketing, pricing, or functionality — gets you much closer to the key messaging around your product.
We consider these three exercises to be integral in the starting ideation and identification of your product. They help identify what your potential market share may be, as well as your projected financial gains and losses once you move into being a full-time product owner.
An incredibly powerful mid step for any product building is prototyping. If you are a lean startup, chances are you are going to need capital investment to really get your product off the ground and into production. An illustrative and impactful way to prove potential market share is through a fully designed prototype. A prototype not only allows you to demonstrate the potential points of sale within the product, but also identifies how an investor can make their money back with your product.
Building a prototype also offers a great opportunity to start unpacking feature sets and functionality the product could potentially have without writing any code. By addressing overarching design and user workflows in such an immersive way, we’re able to fully flesh out a concept for a product and help you understand how much it will potentially cost to build – which is essential as you go out and try to raise capital.
Prototypes also offer an incredible tool for user testing, allowing us to send your product out to an anonymous, objective, and qualified group of users. These users help us understand what assumptions we’re making about the behavioral usage as well as the actual need for this product.
By this point, you’ve gone through product identification, including market share potential, conversion rate, and financial modeling. You’ve built and demoed your prototype for proof of concept and to gain investment, and you’ve sent it through user testing to test assumptions and gain objective feedback. The last step is to start the build, and it can feel like the biggest, scariest step in the world.
Keep in mind, however, that the collective purpose of the preceding steps is to refine and distill your product to be as successful as possible. Remember, we recommend you start with a specific, selective and smart product. With that in mind, we like to orient our development around the individual features of your product — this allows you to see and understand the life cycle of your product in an iterative way. Phase I of your product will not have every bell and whistle you imagined, but it will have be enough for you to go to market as wisely as you can.