May 7

Playing to Your Advantage When Building a New Product

The following insights were gleaned from a presentation at INDUSTRY given by Rohini Pandhi of Square @RohiniPDownload Product Management TACTICS eBook for more.

Just like a game of chess, getting to product-market fit takes a series of strategic steps and focused execution (along with a little bit of luck). Rohini shares best practices for iterating on your product, eliminating tempting distractions, and building value that resonates with your customers.

The most important quality of a Product Manager is to take a lot of data from multiple sources and turn that information into a usable tool. It’s all about prioritizing. If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.  Of course, the types of data and the actual sources that are most valuable will vary from company to company.  So it’s important to establish a framework, but one that works for your business.

When you actually start building a new product, though — don’t be afraid to fail.  In fact, failing will often help ensure that you don’t become fragile.  Being fragile causes you to have a bias to not change.  The problem with this, though, is that the world doesn’t stay the same for long.  It’s important to keep iterating and taking different approaches to adapt with the world.  If you can be open to the possibility of failing, though, you can take the chances that are necessary.  If you do fail, your lack of fragility will allow you to dust yourself off and just keep going.

When you are marketing your new product, pay attention to the world your customers live in.  Communicate your benefits in ways that your customers are used to.  For instance, Square noticed that many of their corporate customers were used to paper invoices.  They sent these invoices via mail.  So, when creating a product marketing strategy for Square’s invoice product — it didn’t simply have an approach that included web and social marketing only.  It actually created physical marketing one-sheets.  Why?  Square’s customers were used to living in this “paper world” when it came to invoices.

When onboarding customers for your new product, use a funnel strategy to get customers, keep customers, and grow usage. Create a timeline for how you want customers to come into contact with your product at every stage you can imagine.  When did they first even learn about your product?  When did it catch their interest?  When was a purchase decision made?  All of this should be included in a robust funnel.  Square’s funnel strategy involves building awareness, onboarding, driving engagement to keep the customers around, and promoting referrals.

Paul McAvinchey

About the author

For over 20 years, Paul has been building and collaborating on digital products with fast-growing startups and global brands, including AOL and WMS Gaming. Currently, he's a co-founder of Product Collective, a worldwide community of product people. Members collaborate on in the exclusive Member Hub, meet at INDUSTRY: The Product Conference, listen to, learn at Product Interviews and get a weekly newsletters that includes best practices in product management. In recent years he led business development at DXY, a leading product design firm in the Midwest, and product innovation at MedCity Media, a publishing startup acquired by Breaking Media in 2015.


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