Creativity and inspiration are the most wonderful gifts given to any product manager. But, these two can help only when they strike. One cannot foresee or predict when they would strike and wait until then. Also, the frequency is not known. So, you cannot count on them as the only part of your product plan. There has to something more solid and accountable for a strong product strategy. And, the special ingredient in the success of any product is the strategy used behind building it.
What is Product Strategy?
Deciding the journey that your product will embark upon after being built is called Product Strategy. This strategy will define the ways in which the product will be affected by the external factors and how it will use those factors to develop.
In this planning you decide on what will be the future of this product, how long should it be in the market, the type of the product, what will be the benefits of using the product and who will be benefited by it, how it will fit in the current market, and most importantly how it will help your company achieve its goals. This product strategy will define how your business will proceed and what other kinds of products it will have to work on.
There are three main elements of any product strategy and they are as follows: The target customers and customers’ needs, the features of the product, and the company’s aim by launching the product. If you wish to create an effective product strategy and win the market with the product, then plan your strategy around these three points.
Now that we have understood what a product strategy is, let us have a look at the basic steps to be followed to create one.
How to create a Product Strategy?
Consult your prospects
It has been observed that a talented and experienced product manager would not get into making a plan directly. They will first introspect, talk with the product team and the marketing team as well, they brainstorm and most importantly think. They first create an outline of the entire plan internally and then go ahead with actual planning.
While you do all these, do not forget to get in contact with the most important entity – the users. Organise a market survey, ask the right questions and then validate the opportunities that you can grab and work accordingly. If you build a product that is not required in the market, people are not going to use it and you don’t want that to happen. So, go and talk to the users and then, proceed with the planning of the product.
Decide your vision
The value of this step has been understood from the experience of several product managers. There are many benefits of having defined a high-level vision for your product before you start working on the building process. Having a clearly defined vision will make the approval from the higher authorities easier and you will be able to move forward quickly. Moreover, having a clear vision and having it discussed with your team will pour enthusiasm in them and they will work more efficiently. The communication will boost the working of the marketing and sales teams, the analysts, and developers. In addition to this, the vision will make the decisions related to the product will be focused and taken strategically.
How to define vision?
There are certain things that you need to take care of when you decide on the vision of your product. Carry out a SWOT – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats analysis. These areas will let you assess the capabilities of your company for this product in comparison with your competitors.
After the assessment of your own company, try to analyze the performances of the other companies that you are in competition with. Analyze the current condition of the market and how they are doing in this condition. This will help you make your plans accordingly.
Then, you need to identify the customers you want to target for the product you are about to build. Get the demographic statistics and try to understand the problems face d and then their needs, dreams, and requirements. This will let you model the product in a better way.
Define the aims of the product
Before you embark upon deciding the features of your product, decide on the goals you want to achieve by this product. List down the changes you want to achieve in the market and people’s lives after having launched this product. Having decided on the goals beforehand would let you check if the product strategy is working or not and so, you can plan accordingly the next time. The goals can be broken down into small lists of the ones with high-level objectives, medium-level objectives, low-level objectives. Prioritizing the goals will make it easy for you to prioritize the features. This way you can identify the resource requirements and other challenges that you may have to face. After doing this, you can start making the list of features.
Create the Roadmap
Now that we have the goals defined, use them to determine the initiatives that you will be included in your product roadmap. The simple goals will now be converted into some robust details about the product. You might be wondering how to link back the initiatives such as the theme, epics, etc. back to the goals. Well, you should use a weighted scoring technique. The goals already defined will bear a guide in the scoring of the new initiatives – themes, epics, and other features. Then, settle on who is responsible for which task. Define milestones and that will allow you in tracking the progress.
Keep a track of your plan
At this stage, you will have your vision cleared, your goals defined and a roadmap to follow too. The initiatives on the roadmap are also all linked back to some goals you aim at achieving by this product. But, you need to understand that the things you have decided right now are not going to stay stable throughout the timeline of the product building and that there are going to be many modifications. There will be modifications in the goals, the priorities of the goals, the initiatives, the resources, competitor’s state, team’s enthusiasm, patience, etc.
To recapitulate, the key to having a winning product strategy is to review your plan periodically and not hesitating to do the modifications as time and the needs of the market would demand. You should not be afraid of the changes; rather you should embrace it with open hands. Also, keep track of the progress being made regularly and that the work being done is in synchronization with the winning product strategy you consumed a lot of time making.