Okay, so you're new product has hit the market. You've survived rounds of funding, startup setbacks, your team is solid, and now you're ready to implement your growth strategy. Wait, you are ready to implement your growth strategy right? Let's talk about this.
There are two critical components of any new product strategy that you cannot survive without and these components should be worked out and a clear part of your strategy long before you get to market. This strategy is the groundwork for your success. It's not like you get to market and then BOOM! You're selling 20 million of each of your SKU's. You have to have a plan in place that allows you to engage your market and scale up as you go.
This First Critical Component Is Engagement
Planning and setting strategies for market engagement can make or break your success. Engagement feeds scale because without the proper plan for engagement, you may miss the mark on your scale up strategy and end up failing to provide your customer base with what they need or want. Market engagement I hate to point out the importance of focus groups, but if they are conducted properly with the right research and data analysis at the end of the process, this type of feedback can be the most insightful. If you've got a tangible product, put it in the hands of users, your target base, and let them tell you whether it's what they want and need, or not.
This Is A Win-Win For Your Business
Either way, you win from this feedback and this should be built in every step of the way, so you are always engaging your market and staying relevant. Innovation doesn't happen, it is created. The businesses that end up being the most successful are the ones who are with their customer during each stage of the customer life cycle. When your base becomes advocates for your brand or products, you'll know you're strategy was on point.
There is a way you can avoid some of the downfalls of a focus group by not letting the participants know exactly what you have, but rather by only giving them ideas and concepts that they can offer suggestions or feedback on. You can then take those suggestions and tweak what you've got without disrupting your entire process.
Iconic Strategy Lessons
I was lucky enough, when I worked at Herman Miller, to work on the Aeron Chair project, which is arguably the most iconic sign of the technology industry, a mesh chair. I know firsthand that every single one of those focus groups would have killed that chair and turned it into a leather cushion chair if they, as an organization, didn't have a way to screen the data that against the mission that they had from an innovation strategy. You have to be really careful to balance those two things, to maintain innovation but also to maintain something that's market effective and going to sell.
The Second Critical Component Is Scale
The scale up in a product strategy involves thinking about a collection of products, what other services you could be offering, what other software, what other add-ons, what other features, apps and/or, in the case of hard products, an actual collection of products. Having a good strategy for really understanding the customer you've attracted, or the member you've attracted if you're a membership program, and understanding what they need and want is so critical.
Some Questions to Consider While Creating Your Strategy
- How am I really adding products that are going to add value to that program, while not eating the sales of my core product?
- How do I bring out products that are complements to the core product without making it more difficult for me to sell?
- How do I bring out products that appeal to my current customer base so I don't have to find a whole new customer base?
At the end of the day, your strategy for engagement and scale either supports your growth trajectory or it doesn't. In this case, it's not all in the details, but a lot of it is, and even just understanding what those details are and what they mean to your business is large enough to set you apart from the competition.