Last week I mentored 13 start ups in 2 days at Start Up Weekend Education London (#swel) and at Ignite100, where Katrina and I ran a Product Doctor Drop In Surgery for the teams in Newcastle. One of the consistent themes was that teams were not thinking about their Launch Strategy early enough. If you read the below, you will see how important it is to do so and how it needs to be considered during the Product Development phase rather than aftewards.
Diagnosis: Your product feels like all things to all people
This can be a dangerous position as it is difficult to focus in a way that enables you to understand who your end users are. This distance between the product and its end users is likely to result in feature overload, lack of clarity in the product description, product positioning and launch plan which will ultimately limit your success.
Feature overload increases your time to market. The more features, the longer the product development time, the longer the testing time is and the longer the fix period. It also adds time to future development time as regression testing takes longer.
Lack of clarity in the product description, product positioning and launch plan may not “speak” to end users in their language as you don’t know what language they speak. If they don’t feel targeted it will be more difficult to get them interested in your product.
Then the million dollar question: “How are you going to drive traffic to your site?” If you don’t know who you are targeting, how can you possibly work out how to drive traffic? Of course everyone talks about the industry press and blogs – but will this reach your target group?
Be really good in one area first. Consider organising your product roadmap around product launches to different sectors / areas, each backed up with a tailored feature set.
Work closely with your end user target segment to not only establish the feature set but also develop ideas for product positioning and launch tactics.
For your initial launch, select an industry sector / area that you have some connection to already. Either you have worked within it, or you already have contacts who you can get close to, giving you access to end users to engage in the ways described above throughout the development process.
You can show your product feature list to users (worded in user-friendly language of course) and have them put the features in order of desirability. Ask them not to rate any features that they are not interested in. You should see some consensus forming quickly as long as you have defined your target segment well. You can also get them to indicate where the features are a hygiene factor (they just must be there) vs something that feels it is different to the competition. Note that it is not who you think your competition is, but who your users think your competition is.
Cross tab this feature list against a scale of how easy / difficult the product is to deliver (Scrum processes involving points to show this is advised). Cross tab this further with some benchmarking and make sure that the sector / area you choose does not already have a popular solution. Ensure that you work with end users to establish where any competitors are strong and weak. Establish your product feature set and positioning around these insights.
For more tips on “DIY User Engagement”, see my previous blogpost.