Building a Product Strategy
Posted by Lacey Wilcox | March 8, 2022
A good sense of direction has never been one of my strengths. Some people have no problem navigating through busy cities, always knowing where north is, and going through those weird turnabouts without getting off on their path. Any time I go to a new location, I know I have to give myself an extra 10-15 minutes because I will have at least one wrong turn.
Every now and then, those wrong turns lead to some really happy accidents. Not car accidents (thank goodness), but fun finds I might not have experienced otherwise: a yummy ice cream place, a great little mail store, and a fun boba tea place.
However, most of the time, my inept navigational skills just lead me to frustration and wasted gold gas. Instead of relying on happy accidents, I use Maps to navigate anytime I go somewhere new. It keeps me on the right path and makes sure I steer clear of any accidents.
This kind of direction, however, isn’t just applicable in my driving. It’s beneficial any time you’re building something: a business, a service line, or a product. The good news is that such a roadmap exists: a product strategy.
What is a Product Strategy?
The word product has multiple meanings. While it can refer to an actual product you sell (an outdoor hoodie, mascara, coffee, etc.), it can also refer to a software product: an application or intranet site. Our work here is going to focus on the software angle, but much that you read will be applicable to building a physical product.
Essentially, a product strategy is like a road map for the development of your product. It guides your vision, purpose, and work to lead you to create a final product that accomplishes your goal and efficiently meets the needs of your customers. This strategy informs the product you build, the way you build it, and the way you distribute it for maximum success. In short, this strategy should be a bridge between the vision for your product and the execution of building and delivering it.
What does a Product Strategy Include?
Because every business, product, and goal is unique, your product strategy is going to look different from another company. But here are some of the main things yours will need to be successful. (Again, keep in mind that our focus here is in relation to custom software – the principles still apply to a physical product, but there will be some nuances.)
A product strategy will work from broad to more specific, and it starts with the vision for your product.
- What are you hoping to accomplish, not necessarily in terms of specific goals, but in the broader, overall purpose of this product?
- Why are you building it?
- What problem will it solve for your customers?
- What value will it bring?
Including this vision in your product strategy will keep you focused as you build your product.
Along with your vision, it’s important to dial in on the specific goals you want to achieve with this product. These goals will also serve to guide the development of your product. These goals are the specific objectives and metrics you will measure for success. For example, how many downloads of your app do you expect to achieve? How many users do you expect to obtain on your intranet site?
These goals should be measurable and time-based – not just hopes, but tangible objectives you can measure and use to adjust your product development as necessary.
Product initiatives are similar to goals, but they’re a bit broader. They will guide your development now to help you hit desired future outcomes. For example, perhaps you’re currently building an app to help basketball players track their shooting practice. While you have specific goals for this app in terms of downloads, users, relationships with coaches and schools, you will also have specific initiatives you hope to achieve. Perhaps you hope to one day include a program that helps students improve their accuracy, or nail their free throws more often.
That initiative is not something that should specifically impact the development of your app right now, but it will influence its trajectory. If you know that you want the app to one day include this training program, you might build it in a way that will allow for this in the future.
Customer Information and Experience
If we’ve talked about buyer personas once on this blog, we’ve mentioned them dozens of times. It’s because everything you do as a business – build your website, create content, price your product or service – should all be influenced by your customer.
Building your software product is no different. You need to build a product that:
- Meets your customers’ specific needs
- Comes in a format they can use easily
- Includes the features your customer will most appreciate
- Offers a price point that your customer will pay
And more. The thing to stress here is that your customer should have a significant influence on the development of your software product and strategy.
Progress is never about getting something right the first time, but rather about consistently learning and improving to reach success. Because of this, it is essential that your software product strategy leaves room for feedback and revision.
Test, test, and test again in order to develop a product that your customers will love and want to use consistently.
What are the Benefits of a Product Strategy?
Now that you know what your software product strategy should include, let’s convince you why it’s worth the time required to build out this strategy.
- Increase clarity and focus. When you are building a product or custom software, it is so tempting to get caught up in all that could be. Because your product strategy includes initiatives, you can write down future hopes while focusing your work on what needs to be built right now.
- Save time and money. Your strategy will guide your work on your product, and keep you from making choices that could cost you time and money down the road. A product strategy will help you build your custom software more quickly so you can get it into the hands of your customers faster.
- Build the best product possible. Ultimately, one of the biggest benefits of a product strategy is that it enables you to create the best possible product you can.
- Create solid customer care and satisfaction. Because creating a product strategy requires such an intimate knowledge of your customer, you are more likely to please your audience, and you will know how to care for them well.
Building custom software is not for the faint of heart. It requires time, thought, and money to make it happen. Using a product strategy to guide your product’s development will make sure you see the highest possible return on that investment.
We’re not just shooting from the hip here. This is what our software team does every single day. We have the knowledge and expertise to take your good idea and turn it into an actual great product. Want to learn more about how we could serve you? Let’s get started.