How to build great products

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Fundamentally, any successful business needs only two things …

  1. A product (or products / service) a sufficient number need or want.
  2. To sell enough of this product to be profitable.

Today we will discuss great products. The world is full of mediocre products. In our mind, a great product solves an unresolved problem or an unmet need or want. A product that overcomes a frustration or makes life tangibly easier, nicer, better ….

Some thoughts on steps to building great products

Ideation (+ prototypes)

Building on an understanding of the market and real people (refer to Square Holes 06), let the divergent thinking fun begin! Free-flowing ideas seeking to unlock the opportunity – everyone involved, do not hold back. There are no wrong answers. Look for easy to do, likely impactful small ideas, and a few BIG IDEAS needing more planning. Then start building prototypes, concepts et cetera. No procrastination seeking perfection, please.

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Evaluate (+ refine)

Take the idea(s) digital and otherwise to the people. This is likely optimal via qualitative research approaches such as workshops, in-home / family chats, one-on-one in-depth interviews with the target audience and/or group discussions with distinct market segments to allow discussion and debate. (Although perhaps quantitative). Seek a ‘funnel’ like discussion e.g. who are they, their ideas, reactions to prototypes (pros, cons, tweaks) and priority ideas.

Demand (+ priorities)

With the strongest ideas refined and ready, allows for quantitative survey measurement of optimal price point and priority geographic / segment markets. It is essential that the survey data is statistically representative of the actual population of the target market (s). Combining this with reliable census population data and other assumptions, allows for the potential of various concepts to be estimated such as likely revenue and profitability for each.

Agility (+ evolve)

Research provides valuable strategic direction such as optimal pricing and bundling (via approaches such as choice modelling), brand positioning and communications, distribution and path to purchase, market growth and priority segments. Agile strategy is about ever and authentically listening to customers and fixing what needs to be fixed quickly and efficiently. Focus on evoling products, and learnings for new product development.

In this corner … $$$$$ and in this corner … VALUE!

It is critical that the product offers good ‘value’ and this is clearly articulated to potential customers. This may be a cheaper price to alternatives. However, this can be risky and tricky. Cheaper generally comes with leaner margins and a need for high volume while maintaining fundamental quality, experience and reputation imperatives.

More likely it is a higher level illustration of value via improved price bundling, an enhanced experience, higher quality and a superior reputation.

Price …

… per unit compared with competitors (ideally you have none), price of the bundle of products you are selling and/or the ability to rationalise the price of your product against alternatives or what customers think is ‘good value.’

Experience …

… is everything! Maximise the ease of purchase and enjoyment of planning, purchase and minimising the blockages and frustrations. Please no frustrations, and if there are, deal with them fast. And, make the experience easy to share with friends and family. Let your customers share the wonderful experience with those they love.

Quality …

… is clearly illustrated as superior to alternatives. You may believe your product quality ROCKS, but if others do not know or think it RUBBISH … Oh man! Clear articulation of quality is key.

Reputation …

… is strong and there is positive word-of-mouth, on-line and off-line. A poor product has a poor reputation. A good product hopefully has a good reputation. Everyone loves a good rep, a rep worth protecting.