A Quick Reference to Product Strategy, how it Benefits Companies, and how to start implementing it.
What is Product Strategy?
Product strategy is a set of early developed plans created to help a company decide what to make and how to make it, as well as how to effectively improve how they may handle an already existing product within their market segment. It also includes figuring out how a product will be positioned in the marketplace, how it will be sold, and who the target audience that benefits the most from it will be.
Last thing to clarify within this section… product strategy is not magic or voodoo. Most good things are hard to come by, and this is not an exception.
What are the Benefits of Product Strategy in today’s marketplace?
Well thought out and implemented product strategy can be the key to success for a company. It helps executives, managers, and creators to understand their customers and their needs. It also helps them to find out what their competitors are doing to succeed, as well as what opportunities they may be missing out due to poor product strategy execution.
To answer this question directly, product strategy helps to showcase a unique product in such a way that it stands out in the market among other similar businesses.
Last thing to clarify within this section… product strategy is not magic or voodoo. Most good things are hard to come by, and this is not an exception. What can happen is finding success (as defined by each strategy) through repetition, new iterations, and careful monitoring of results through data.
How to Create an Effective Product Strategy?
An effective product strategy helps in the setting of goals, breaking down goals into small action plans, and executing each small step in a systematic way. Pardon me to say this, but it really is similar to the analogy of successfully eating an elephant by taking on one small bite each time. May I share the steps that I take as I help businesses to improve or establish their product strategies?
These steps will help you create and effective product strategy:
You need a product or at least a service offering that be treated as a product. You can skip this step if you are 100% clueless about what to sell, but you will still need to move this step to the last spot of this list.
You must identify your target audience and their needs. To do that you will almost inevitably have to go talk to prospects about their needs and your possible solutions, or you may need to hire an agency to do that for you. Yes, I am aware there are other methods to acquire this valuable information, but for now this two general ways will help anyone to create a list of features that they may want their product to have.
This step requires you to have a prototype or at least a minimum viable product. You don’t need to worry about a polished final product, just a prototype that can help you showcase why your product matters, how it works, and how a person can interact with it.
Once you received enough feedback coming from a prototype you should build an initial product offering that can be introduced to early adaptors and product reviewers for even more accurate feedback. Within this step I usually also build some preliminary marketing and sales materials. You are also starting to test how this important messaging performs. Quick not on the marketing materials… you are probably not a marketing professional (kudos if you are) you probably know better than most that the best work comes from specialized professionals that are really good at specific trades such as marketing.
By step five you should have a good amount of reviews, interaction comments, and even terrible reviews as well. This is all incredibly valuable and you should never see bad comments as stones thrown towards your glass castle. Instead focus improving your initial product into a more refined and polished product that addresses each concern presented through your feedback loop, because…
During step 6 you basically start over with your product testing, bringing out your newest product iteration back to the haters and critics, lol. Yes, it is kind of funny to me because this symbiosis tends to only bring good things out.
Like life in general, your baby is now growing old and it is time for the product strategist to depart the scene. The process does not end, now it has been firmly established and it should continue indefinitely. Marketing teams and data analytics start to take over, and You let them do their thing as they start to prioritize messaging for your product’s best features, also based on how the product has been received and adopted by a target audience. A product strategist’s last involvement here may have to do with a strategy about how they want to prioritize product updates and future new features. When this is an applicable scenario it also brings longevity to a great work relationship between product strategists and clients or employers; unless your product is irremediably terrible and the previous efforts only ended up polishing a rhetorical turd (yikes!).
Conclusion on The Importance of Having a Good Product Strategy
This article presented you with my professional approach to product strategy, and even though it yields amazing results for myself and my clients, I also carefully trim things out and insert new things in. I also infuse my product strategy with influence from as many creative fields as possible, i.e. branding, marketing, UX, and content strategy fields. All of which come from other professionals that I love to partner with in order to maximize results.
Bottom line, whatever your interest may be as it leads you to the end of my article, “good product strategy” is an intentionally repetitive system that helps to create a long-term vision for companies and their products; which in turn helps in shaping the company’s future. In my humble opinion, that is precisely why executives and business owners should be as involved as possible in doing things that will influence outcomes over time. Identifying opportunities and risks is not just important, it is in my view undoubtedly a business necessity.
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