What’s the most important thing to remember while launching your software product? I believe those of you reading this & have already launched it successfully, would answer it correctly. But what if you have cooked something, which is ready to serve market, but not yet launched? Are you gearing up to launch & don’t know where to hit ‘Bull’s Eye’?
I’m not a product marketing expert, but even pros make some causal mistakes, which could be avoided, if you don’t overlook certain obvious things in the development phase of your product.
Many people in the development team or even sales/marketing team might be thinking of ‘Feature Set’ as winnable strategy in the product success. In a recent discussion with a business development manager of a leading Telecom Solution Company, the topic came on why the company couldn’t even sell the product in market despite being in ready (Beta) phase for past one year or so? Lack of dedicated efforts & customer feedback on inclusion of some missing feature set, were cited as reasons, but I believe there’s something more to the story.
You got an idea and you started making it a reality. That’s great news! Very few could even get started and if you are sure of your target customers, you are certainly on right track. But do you really know what needs to be developed? And how do you measure the progress?
When I said the company has a ready to launch product, but no customers yet, it calls upon the serious strategy re-look immediately. As mentioned above, many people often mistakenly take ‘Product Feature Set’ is the only winning strategy in product launch. But how about developing something, by keeping track of your customer feedback without setting off your vision from target requirement?
I would rather stick to a very simple method for successful product launch. Once you have decided upon what needs to be developed & who would be the target customer immediately get out of your board room. Go to customer (At present just prospect) office. Fix an appointment to the key personnel & talk to them about your beta product. I believe this is not easy but not impossible too.
You need to get hold of customer’s requirement & reach a balanced point, where your proposed idea should match to customer’s requirement. If not, then you need to throw your proposed plan (or tweak it to match) out of window & start developing according to the customer’s requirements.
I believe, every customer, has some pains in existing setup. It could be minor or major. The people who are daily going through the pain routine can be the best guide to someone, who has set off his eye on relieving those pains, by introducing something called ‘Pain Killer’. And that’s the catch!
Most often people develop something & spend years to make their products perfect. But there is no perfect product in the world. Even Google has kept ‘Gmail’ in Beta phase for years, even after launching to the public.
These guys, after making something to the tunes of their vision, get out of their offices to show to the prospects, only to find that, prospect doesn’t understand why he/she needs this new product all of a sudden. Prospect doesn’t believe you or your sale’s views. He’s least bothered about your product. He just cares about his pains. And if your product doesn’t going to help him, he would rather spend time with someone else. What best you could get is some feedback on features set or something missing in your existing product as compared to ‘in-use’ product.
You come back to office. Call up developer’s meeting. Share feedback only to get response that this looks weird. How can customer want this? This would take some time etc. And you insist to stick to the agenda and your commitment to the customer given. Developers find it insane to make major feature set modification, as it would or might change something major.
The tussle starts. Developers start hitting CTO on this. CTO meets CXOs and need more time/funds to carry on. CXOs are unhappy. And all looks very bad, as the prospect has yet to give commitment. Would he commit to product after making changes in existing cooked recipe? No one is sure!
I think it’s all wrong strategy pursued till that moment. You can’t go back & start from scratch. Your business model needs to be dumped. You smell something foul. The cost is building up daily & you aren’t sure where to sell & how.
What’s missing in above story. One simple thing! You cooked entire recipe & served it on table. But there’s no one to taste it & pay the bills. You made painstaking efforts & spent sleepless nights to make that recipe. You know that it should work and people would love the taste. But before you realize it, your gamble has started frustrating you already!
The concept of ‘Lean Product Development’ isn’t new to the world. But only if you are listening to your customers, while accounting their feedback into ‘Beta’ phase of product development, your gamble would pay off!