We all have our favorite products that we recommend, we are loyal users of some product and some people are die hard fanboys of products. The product purist in me wants to believe that product perfection exists and can always take a market leading position over inferior products, however this is not reality. So how can a company pick where to invest heavily in product management and r&d? How can great product managers choose which jobs or products to take on, in order to set themselves up for success? What is the objective for product managers in these different situations? Over the next few blog posts I will provide insights, examples and a framework to answer address these questions.
Lets start by introducing what I call the product motivational hierarchy.
The first level is “Functional”. The aim for any product is to deliver some value through functionality. To achieve this status there must be value for money or value for cost. This simply means the product solves some problem for the market delivering some perceived value which is greater or at least equal to the cost. The cost may be:
- user effort or user time
- user data
- user sharing / promotion
The second level in the product motivational hierarchy is “Value Add". This is a products ability to go further than the minimum expectation set by the market and deliver additional value. This unique value proposition is what makes gives a product a competitive edge. In real world this level a moving target, as markets often play copy cat and companies improve their products, which increases what the markets minimum expected value is. In very established markets such as project management software stripping back features and being simpler can be the added value, e.g. Basecamp which simplifies complex project management software. So do not interpret value add as size of feature set. The value add proposition is often derived from a unique insight in to the users real problem.
At the top of the hierarchy we have “Favorite", this is where a product delights users so much they must tell other people how great this product is. This is far beyond your product helping a user post on Facebook that they consume your product. To reach this level your users are loyal and will argue why your product is the best. An extreme example is the army of fans that Apple enjoys.
Clearly not all products can reach “Favorite” status typically there will be winning and loosing products. It is important to recognize markets exist where it is highly unlikely any product will ever reach that sort after "Favorite" status.