The equation for creating a successful product is more complex than it may seem at first glance. It involves not just solving a problem, but also incorporating great usability, implementing killer marketing strategies, and building a strong brand. All of these factors must work together in harmony to achieve product success.
While there are many successful products on the market, there are also plenty of bad and failed ones. Over the past five years, I have had the opportunity to work on several projects, some of which were successfully launched and others that failed to gain traction.
Through my experiences working with teams of varying sizes and in different markets, I have noticed several trends that can be learned from the successful products, as well as trends that should be avoided based on the failed cases. By examining both the successes and the failures, we can gain insights into what works and what doesn’t when it comes to creating a successful product.
SOLVING A PROBLEM + GREAT USABILITY + KILLER MARKETING x BRAND = PRODUCT SUCCESS.
Let’s start by acknowledging the value of design-lead teams. Approaching products from a design perspective can bring a lot of benefits, such as focusing on the problem space, users, and usability through design thinking practices.
One of the main advantages of design-lead teams is that they tend to validate ideas early in the design phase. This can be especially beneficial if done agilely and within the right timelines. However, it’s important to note that getting product validation right in the design phase can be a challenge. Methods like design sprints and usability testing may not yield the same results when you go to market if not done right and iteratively.
While design focuses on the usability aspects of your product, many designers lack the skills to consider business goals, budget, delivery timelines, and marketing when it comes to rolling out the product to the market. This is where a cross-functional team can come in handy. Collaborating with professionals from different areas will help to ensure that everyone is on the same page, and that business goals are being considered alongside design best practices.
If done right, design can help you build a product that people want to use and tell others about, resulting in something that could go viral. However, relying solely on design to achieve product success is risky. It’s important to get the best talent, adopt the best processes and practices, and work together as a cross-functional team to get the best possible value from being a design-lead team without creating a design silo in the business. By making design a real part of the cross-functional delivery team, you can ensure that your product is not only usable, but also meets business goals, stays within budget, and is delivered on time.
Tech lead teams are a vital part of most startups, typically composed of software engineers and technical personnel who stay up-to-date on the latest technological advancements. However, it’s worth noting that tech-lead teams differ from tech-only teams in that the latter may lack a design aspect and may not possess an understanding of marketing and product validation.
Many tech-lead teams focus on technology innovation, which is essential as it allows them to stay ahead of market trends. This focus on technology drives product development and can attract funding, as investors are often drawn to trendy technologies like blockchain, crypto, and most recently, AI.
Tech-lead teams have an advantage in terms of speed and structure, often using standardized approaches to product delivery such as Agile and Kanban, which enable them to ship products quickly. They also possess technical expertise and are proficient at developing convincing business models to secure funding.
The most valuable resource on the market is software developers, and tech-lead teams have an obvious advantage in this area. It is easier for them to augment design and marketing practices and team members to form a more cross-functional team. In contrast, design teams find it much harder to augment tech talent around design-lead teams.
By observing how tech teams approach project management and product delivery, there is much to be learned. They exhibit discipline in adhering to scope, timelines, and shipping plans on the product roadmap, at least in the best cases. Combining these skills with adaptive design practices can create a dynamic team that can build validated products and ship them with the efficiency of a production line.
However, one crucial missing piece to launching a successful product is marketing. Both tech and design lead teams may not possess expertise in this area, and it is important to recognize the importance of marketing in the product development process. By incorporating marketing practices into their strategies, tech and design lead teams can ensure successful rollouts and good customer adoption at launch.
It is often said that marketing is the secret sauce to launching a successful product, and while this is certainly true to some extent, there are other factors at play that are equally important. One of the most common reasons that product teams fail to achieve customer adoption is because they neglect to bring in marketing expertise early enough in the development process.
Of course, the marketing team is crucial when it comes to launching a new product. But their role extends far beyond that. They are also responsible for community building, gathering product feedback, and helping to shape the early touchpoints with customers that are so important for building brand experience and customer loyalty in the long term.
By bringing in community building and marketing expertise early on in the project, you can give your product a major advantage when it comes to your market presence and customer adoption at launch.
As you have undoubtedly noticed by reading this far (and thank you for doing so!), the recipe for great product adoption at launch is a cross-functional team that is balanced across all these disciplines. By focusing not just on marketing, but also design practices and technology innovation, you can maximize your chances of success and build a product that truly resonates with your target audience.
You cannot find the right product market fit no mater how much you push it into peoples faces, you should not find yourself in a position with a product looking for a solution which is what happens in most Tech-lead teams that bring on marketing to “push the product” the market fit needs to be sized and the solution needs to be built around a real true problem in the market and not just the need or opportunity of using the latest shiny piece of tech.
While focusing on balancing Design, Tech and Marketing will ensure product success, customer adoption and brand building at launch. The long term success of your product is reliant on the iterative use of these practices, having deep insight in customer experience and releasing features that respond to customers needs.
Focusing on customer support and building your brand will help with long term product success. brand loyalty is the biggest marketing tool, remember you want people to automatically talk about the experience of your product and recommending it to people and not maximising on perishable advertising.
Moreover, real product success and sustainability require more than just a successful launch. It is important to constantly gather feedback from customers, analyze market trends, and innovate to keep up with changing customer needs and preferences. Therefore, it is crucial to have a long-term strategy in place that ensures the continued success of the product even after its initial launch.