“If You Fail to Prepare, You Are Preparing To Fail”
Being a Jr. Product Manager myself had taught me many things. Starting from product leadership, the spirit of experimentation, even traversing into the world of software engineering. Two years as a product manager, someone had taught me a very valuable lesson.
People don’t care about the product. They care about their problems. The question is, why haven’t they solved their problem?
How do you start creating a product? To answer this question, you have to fully understand the very essence of why a product exists in the first place. There are two reasons: (1) solving a problem or (2) creating a demand.
Listening to problems, not solutions
This reminds me of two classic stories. Henry Ford as you probably know is the inventor of the world’s the first automobile. Before he revolutionized the transportation industry, people were using horses as a mode of transportation. The problem arise when people needed faster transportation (a.k.a. “faster horses”). But Henry Ford doesn’t listen to their solution, but rather to their problems. He solved it by inventing the car.
Creating New Market
The other fascinating story that I love (’cause I heard it a million times) is how Steve Jobs founded Apple. His company made a lot of products we never thought possible from mobile phones, personal computers, even wireless earphones. His approach is slightly different when it comes to creating a product. He created a demand where people can be better by using his product.
Though both of them created a solution, they’re using a different approach and that’s how people created products. To know what kind of product that you want to make, you need to be aware of the current situations. What are the things that make people struggle? What are their challenges in life? How can your product make them better? From there, you get the idea of how you want to approach a solution
Time to Develop Your Product
Once you’ve discovered who your customers are and what problems they have, it’s time to make your vision into a reality. Follow along these steps to create your very first product
1. Define Your Product Vision
Creating a vision is more than just using fancy words. A vision represents the most ideal condition of your product when it is being used by your most ideal customers.
My pro tip for this step is to focus on what matters, which is the problem and the solution. Another tip that I can give you is to imagine yourself in your customer’s shoes. If your customer uses your product, will they become a better version of themselves?
To explain this, I love to use the photographer analogy. Does a photographer buy a new camera because it has a lot of fancy features? or is it because it made him a better photographer?
2. Know Your Value Proposition
When you’ve done a lot of research and you finally get the idea of what your product is. You’re going to come across with some competitions. How many competitions that you have will depends on what kind of industry you’re trying to tap in.
Fear not, because competition is not something that you have to be afraid of. Let’s put it this way: your competitor have done this for much longer time than you, and they can be your most valuable assets when you look for new inspirations. Find what works for them and what doesn’t. Try to look for new opportunities that your competitor haven’t tried yet.
Speaking of opportunity, how can a new-comer capitalised on untapped potentials in the market? One of the way of doing it is through defining your value proposition. Simply put, value proposition is the promise that your product will give to your customers. It is also the differentiating factor between what you have and what your competitor have.
To help you create your own value proposition, ask yourself these questions: (1) the problem’s that your customers facing, (2) who’s facing the problem, (3) negative consequences if the problem persists, (4) your offered solutions, and (5) benefits of your offered solutions.
I have tried that method in my recent experience learning digital marketing. I worked in a group and created a landing page and a website for an online catering business. That should ease your process when defining your value proposition.
3. Create a Prototype
Out of 5 steps, for me personally this is the most fun part. In this part, you’re required to create a physical (or digital) embodiment of your product. Whether it’s a website, an application, software, or hardware. It’s time to create your product! literally!
When creating a prototype, I always use a simple guideline called Design Thinking. Throughout my journey as a Product Manager, this process has helped me numerous times. Because it helped me to understand the steps that I need to make for each task in order to create my first prototype.
Basically, Design Thinking consists of 5 steps: (1) Empathise, (2) Define, (3) Ideate, (4) Prototype, (5) Test. You have done step 1 and 2 from previous steps, in this part let’s focused on step 3 and 4.
When it comes to ideation, you need to have clarity about your product. You can use methods such as Crazy 8 to create rough sketches. After you get a rough idea, now you can talk to your development team to create the real product based on your ideation process. This process is called prototyping.
After you created your very first prototype, it’s time to put it to a test.
4. Test The Market
Ever heard the term:
“Don’t let other people judge you”
Hate to break it to you, but that saying has no merit when it comes to product management. It doesn’t matter how good the product is to you, it matters whether the product actually solves other people’s problems.
In this phase, you’re going to hear a lot of feedback from your potential customers. What a good product manager need is to prioritise which feedback is more important to be implemented in the next iteration of your product.
There are several ways for you to conduct your market or user research. It depends on your objective whether you want to have a quantitative or qualitative result. If you want to have a quantitative result, it’s best to use online survey tools and conduct as many online interviews as possible. If you’re going with a qualitative option, you can use methods like usability testing or conduct an in-depth interview with your potential customers.
But in my experience, for an early-stage product. It’s best for you to use a qualitative strategy since it doesn’t require a lot of resources to pull off.
5. Improve and Iterate
Making a product is a never-ending process. Some people have compared product management and project management. While project management process ends when the project reach a certain milestone, product management is a more iterative and continuous process.
Many product teams use frameworks such as scrum in the iteration process. This helps them to identify a problem and quickly come up with a solution within a specific time frame usually 2 – 3 weeks type. After that, they ship out a new version of the product in the hopes of solving the problems that they previously have.
Creating a Product in a Nutshell
Creating a product is a fun process. Especially in the early stages since you have more flexibility to decide what kind of product that you want. But flexibility comes with a price, you have to remember that the end goal of every product is to solve customer’s problem.
I hope by reading this post you get a better idea to start your product adventure! See you in the next post.