To start, let me tell you that this article is coming from a place of caution and painful experience.
This article is a brief on what every product owner should do to break through before they jump in.
As a company that makes its living on mobile and web development, most of our initial conversations with product owners reveal that they are not ready to jump into development. Development has sex-appeal–you’re bringing something new and exciting into the world, something that will bring value to its users. Are you sure that your mobile app or web app idea will bring true value? Will it bring enough value to change your users’ habits?
To avoid the gut-wrenching reality that you’ve built an app that few, if any, find value in using, we ask that you curb your excitement to jump into development for a moment to address these questions:
- Who is your app’s initial target market?
- What is your product’s value proposition to this market?
- How is your product differentiated from the competition?
Slowing down to address these questions before you start developing your app will help get to the results you and your soon-to-be users are aiming for faster, cheaper, and with less pain. Understanding and addressing each question will help you address the next and will set you up for product success. Let’s dive in.
What is your app’s initial target market?
These are the potential users of your mobile or web app that you will reach out to first. We need to identify the characteristics of these initial users, understand what makes them tick, and find how to reach them. There are 7 components of the target market. Take a break from this article now to define each.
Do This Now
Define each of the 7 components of your product’s target market:
- Customer Lifestyle Description
- Psychographic Description
- Buying Patterns
- Buying Sensitivity
For additional details on each component read through A Guide to the 7 Components of Your App’s Initial Target Market.
Now that you understand your initial target market (who they are, what they think and do, and how they act), you can position your product’s value proposition to them.
What is your product’s value proposition to this market?
Your product’s value proposition is a statement that answers how your product solves your target market’s problems. We have pulled four main questions that you should address from the article, Why your value proposition is more important than your product, by Sean Boyce, of NxtStep, on the topic to help guide you through preparing a powerful value proposition statement. I suggest you give the full article a read.
Do This Now
Write down your answers to the following questions:
- What benefit comes from using your product to solve the user’s problem?
- What problem does your product solve?
- What area of the market suffers from this problem?
- How does your product solve this problem?
Once you have thought through each of these questions you are ready to prepare your value proposition. Next, write the value proposition of your product in a short paragraph directed to the target market that you can verbalize in 30 seconds.
Now that you have formalized your value proposition, let’s compare it to the competition.
What differentiates your product from the competition?
It’s important to consider your competitors before jumping into development. If they have a product that’s even relatively valuable, you’ll be wrestling users away from them and need to build and position your product against the competition with enough value to cause users to change their habits.
When is the last time you switched product/service providers? What happened to make you switch? Here are a few that may jog your memory:
- Why did you download Lyft when you already used Uber?
- Why did you sign up for Netflix when you were going to Blockbuster?
- Why did you create a Facebook account when you already had Myspace?
- Why did you download Jove when you already had Zillow? (Okay, the last one was a shameless client plug, but anyways check it out…)
Let’s consider your competitors, their value propositions, and how your product is better.
Do This Now
- Create a list your top 5 competitors
- Write the value proposition of each next to them
- List 5 ways that your product is better (is it faster, smarter, cheaper, etc.) for each competitor
- Go into detail on each of the 5 ways it’s better (for example, how is it smarter?)
If you’re in the small pool of product owners that say that you don’t have competitors, consider indirect competition–these are products that may be fundamentally different but achieve the same result for your users.
You have defined your initial target market, prepared a value proposition statement for that market, and identified how your product is differentiated from the competition. What’s next?
I’ve answered the 3 questions, I am ready to develop?
Congratulations! You’ve taken the first step to break through to your market, now let’s talk to them. You will now need to dig in to find out if your market segment is ready for your product. The key here is to talk to your potential users (the target market you defined) early and to talk to them often.
For help on how to start the conversation with your potential users, you may contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.