Developing and marketing your product is at the heart of your business. It’s what your organisation revolves around. How can you measure your progress and work towards improving your product? How do you find the perfect product strategy?

As part of the EWOR Academy, Leonard Dorlöchter gave a lecture on developing a product strategy. The founder of Web 3.0 network peaq, Leonard has hands-on experience with the evolutions of product development.

This article will teach you how to develop a product strategy that works for your business.

For more insights from experienced entrepreneurs, sign up to our EWOR Platform to gain access to over 17 courses and a plethora of resources.

What Is Product Strategy?

Before spending resources on prototypes and marketing, you need a roadmap for turning your company’s vision into successful product selling. That’s what a product strategy accomplishes.

Product strategy refers to the milestones on the way to reaching the product vision of your start-up. It’s the plan that guides you towards what you wanted to build when you started your company.

These milestones vary from company to company. If you sell a new type of smart device, the first milestone could be to launch the first drop of prototypes and collect feedback. The second milestone could be set two months after the initial release and be based on new features for the device’s second prototype.

There is no one way to develop a product strategy. It’s an individualised process that depends on your founding team, type of business, and industry. You can have different milestones for different geographical markets, personae, or industries. One product might work horizontally for a wide range of customers, or it’s marketed vertically to different industries and fields.

Where Does Product Strategy Start?

We’ve discussed a broad definition of what product strategy accomplishes. But where do you even start? How do you define these milestones for your product’s journey?

Based on your company’s vision, spend time on market research. Determine what the right target market is and which market is easiest to tackle first. The goal is to keep costs as low as possible. It’s about efficiency in handling your time and resources.

Once you know your market potential, think about the milestones for your product or service. Every milestone aims to be a product market fit. In other words, the product solves your customers’ problems and it’s safe to predict they will keep using it. In which market can you achieve this state the easiest and fastest?

After enough market and customer research, decide on a realistic milestone progression. What’s the roadmap to achieving your vision? Don’t set too high expectations and unattainable milestones. Keep them small – but not too small. Find a balance between innovation and realistic progress. 

The next steps in your product strategy journey concern prototyping. Don’t over-engineer your prototypes and stick to minimal design and functionalities. The first milestone is the most important one because that initial traction generates the most valuable feedback.

You’ve received the first feedback on your prototype after hitting the first milestone. If it was successful, develop the same prototype further.

If it’s not working, change directions. It’s crucial to have a game plan before you start prototyping, but pivoting is part of the product strategy. Nothing is set in stone. Adjust after each iteration of your product and see what works.

This constant re-evaluation is the reason why product strategy is an individualised process.

Product Strategy as a Tool to Convince Investors

Having a sound strategy for your product’s development is useful in more than one way. Demonstrate your startup’s milestones to investors, especially at the beginning. It can be a tool to inspire people and sell your vision.

Presenting a well-developed product strategy makes the product digestible in those early stages. If you don’t have a prototype yet, you can use the product strategy instead.  

Vision and Product Strategy

Let’s take a step back and consider the relationship between vision and product strategy in more detail. When you’re thinking about product development, you already have a vision for what you want to build. Chase the vision and work to make it happen.

“We are stubborn on vision and flexible on details.” – Jeff Bezos

We’ve established that product strategy is adaptable. The milestones can change. Your company’s vision manifests over time but it won’t drastically change. If you change the vision and, thus, the solution to the problem you want to solve, you risk losing investors. In the beginning, the vision is all you have to gain financial support.

That distinction doesn’t mean you should give up on a milestone after one negative piece of feedback. Aim to execute the product strategy you developed. Don’t change it until you have explored every viable possibility and tried to make it work. 

Product Vision vs Company Vision?

The product vision and your company vision are similar. It’s the drive behind your mission to change an aspect of the world. The product is the tool to achieve that vision. Thus, the two are closely connected and complete each other.

The product strategy is the road to completing the company vision.

How to Manage Your Team and Stakeholders in the Product Strategy Process?

Creating a first product strategy is the easiest task. In the early days of your company, you’ll start with just the founding team and develop a strategy together.

The tricky part starts when you assemble a team and interact with investors and partners. Prototyping requires a team of engineers and designers. Engage these people when it’s time to define the next milestone. Their input is as valuable as yours. In this process, also include those team members responsible for market research and customer discovery.

Bottom line: Don’t have only one person come up with the product strategy. It’s a team effort across departments. Lead the efforts as the founder, but gather as much input as possible.

Investors and partners can pose problems with slow communication. Corporations, especially large ones, can slow down your product strategy process. In meetings, make your presentations as visual as possible to engage them. Make pitches and meetings as effective and easy as possible for both parties. There should be at least one person who is excited about your product and wants to help facilitate the product strategy process.

Final Tips and Advice

Developing a good product strategy isn’t easy and there is a lot to keep in mind, but if you can keep at least the following four tips at hand, you are off to a solid start:

Tip 1: Don’t work on a prototype for too long.

It doesn’t have to be perfect, so don’t waste time!

Tip 2: Don’t make the milestones too big.

Make them as small as possible, while still improving the product.

Tip 3: There is no way to have all the answers.

Don’t be intimidated by the task of developing a product strategy. Take it one milestone at a time.

Tip 4: Make the vision digestible for stakeholders.

Prototypes and product strategies are helpful tools to please investors and co-founders alike.

About the author

EWOR is a school conceived by Europe’s top professors, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders. We educate and mentor young innovators to launch successful businesses.

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