In this inaugural piece of the year, we will delve into the essential elements of crafting a digital product. Commencing with identifying the problem and culminating with defining a vision, we will traverse all the crucial steps required to transform ideas into digital products (or at least lay the foundation for doing so 😁).
This article draws inspiration from another written by Lenny Rachitsky, one of the premier newsletters and podcasts for learning about Product Management and Growth.
Whether you are an entrepreneur seeking to learn about product management, simply looking to expand your knowledge, or anywhere in between, this article will furnish you with the fundamental principles necessary to create your own product or perhaps even inspire the creation of your next 🦄.
1. Defining the Problem: The Origins of Products
Have you ever encountered an everyday problem and thought of a solution for it? Chances are, you have
Products are the outcome of a desire to address a particular issue. They are often the result of a problem we have encountered in our own lives or the lives of others.
Understanding the problem we aim to solve is a crucial aspect of the discovery process in product management.
The Uber Case
I often like to use Uber as an example. Do you remember what life was like before Uber? Before Uber, the primary means of comfortable transportation from point A to point B was through taxis.
Uber identified a double problem: the subpar service of taxi drivers and the lack of comfortable transportation options. On the other hand, they also discovered that some individuals with vehicles were willing to earn additional income in their free time.
They were able to solve two problems at once: one of transportation and the other of additional income, all through the use of technology and offering a solution that was 10 times better than the existing option of taxis. Incredible, isn't it? With this example, I want to highlight the importance of focusing on problems rather than solutions (at least in the early stages).
The Product Blog
The Producto Blog was created by Miguel who works in the technology industry and realized that there was an increasing demand for qualified Product Management people. However, they often found it challenging to find employment opportunities due to a lack of experience and limited opportunities to acquire knowledge and skills. [problem I am trying to solve].
In response, Miguel decided to join forces and establish a Product community to assist individuals in building successful digital products and, as a result, create more growth opportunities in the technology industry.
He began organizing projects such as The Product Blog and Live sessions through YouTube to feature experts, and share stories, and success stories on topics relevant to digital product development and management.
The problems don't need to be new or necessarily one that no one has solved before, in fact, several of the big technology companies have achieved their success by building solutions 5x, 10x, or 20x better.
2. Market Research: Delving into the Problem
The market comprises a group of individuals with similar needs; these are the individuals who will drive the creation and sustained existence of our product over time.
To comprehend the problem at hand, one will conduct group interviews, individual interviews, surveys, forms, etc. Various methods to collect data on the problem that our product aims to address.
One of the strategies I recommend for conducting interviews is outlined in detail in "The Mom Test" which teaches us how to conduct effective interviews. Here are some key points to take away from the book:
Have a conversation about how the user addresses the problem within the context of their daily life.
Focus on facts from their past rather than hypothetical situations.
Encourage the user to open up in their answers, asking questions about their life without losing sight of the conversation's focus.
Avoid seeking solutions from the user; instead, strive to understand their day-to-day life and how they currently address their pain points or problems.
There are frameworks to understand the real problem that our users face. One of the most renowned frameworks is the Job To Be Done (JTBD) which refers to the specific task or problem that a person is trying to accomplish when using a product or service.
At this stage of market research, competitive analysis is also often conducted to understand if there are other products already addressing the problem and how they are performing.
Simultaneously, we commence estimating the size of the market for the product, i.e. how many individuals have similar needs. With this information, we can begin to make initial considerations about the product's potential market adaptation and measure the success of Product-Market fit (a topic that we will delve into in a future article)
The Product Blog
The Product Blog aims to assist individuals in the development of digital products. To achieve this, we are attempting to address the following problems:
The lack of an accessible community where new connections can be formed and a culture of collaboration and teamwork is fostered.
The market size: In 2020, the e-learning market in Latin America is projected to generate revenues of approximately $2.67 billion and is expected to grow to over $3 billion by 2023. (https://www.statista.com/statistics/1097584/e-learning-market-latin-america/)
The relationship between market and product is the cornerstone of all product management dynamics
3. Establishing a Mission: The Purpose of the Product
The mission is a crucial aspect of any product, as it enables team members to comprehend the product's purpose and often serves as a human factor that connects each individual's personal purpose to the product.
Simon Sinek's "Start with Why" one of my favorite books, illustrates the power and significance of communicating the purpose of a company or as leaders to inspire others.
Having a clear mission assists in aligning perspectives on how to achieve product objectives. This mission is established by the founders and embraced by all other team members.
Some examples include:
-Uber's mission is to rethink the way the world moves, for the better.
-Stripe's mission is: We bring everything together to create websites and apps that accept payments and send payments around the world.
-The Product Blog's mission is to support individuals in developing world-class products to generate more digital growth opportunities.
The establishment of a clear mission within an organization can yield several benefits, including:
Promoting clarity of purpose, which helps to define the overall objective and aims of the organization, and facilitates the alignment of team members towards a common goal.
Facilitating strategic planning, by serving as the foundation for identifying the organization's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and for formulating goals and objectives that align with the mission.
Providing guidance for decision-making, ensuring that decisions are made in line with the overarching goals and purposes of the organization.
Communicating the value that the organization offers to its customers, employees, and other stakeholders.
4. Establishing a vision: The what of the product
The vision, the north star of the company or product, serves as a guiding principle and sets long-term goals that help focus the team's efforts.
It provides a sense of purpose and direction that enables connection with early adopters and customers who are attracted to the product vision.
Let's look at some examples:
- Stripe's vision is to increase Internet GDP.
- Uber's vision is to create a reliable, affordable and accessible transportation network for all.
- The Product Blog’s vision is to empower people to drive innovation and digital growth through product management.
5. Create a Product Strategy: The Product How-to
The product strategy is a plan for developing and positioning your product in the marketplace and achieving the product vision.
Product strategy also helps us define a product's value proposition, i.e. the key differentiators that set it apart from other similar products on the market. This is crucial to ensure that the product stands out in saturated markets and is positioned in a way that attracts customers.
A product strategy helps us ensure that resources are allocated efficiently by identifying the most important features to include in the product and prioritizing them for development. This is especially important for companies with limited resources, such as startups.
Focus on convenience and ease of use => Offer diverse ride options => Leverage data and technology.
Simplifying online payments => Providing a broad set of valuable features => Constant innovation.
The Product Blog:
Form an active community =>> Co-create educational content on a practical level =>> Create an innovative ecosystem for product management.
It is important to keep in mind that the creation of a product strategy is not a single moment. As the product and market evolve, re-evaluate objectives, features, and market strategy.