Business Innovation and Marketing with Mike Parsons
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Business Innovation Blog

Read about marketing, innovation, emerging technology and Design Thinking Methods. Includes lean startup, agile development and rapid prototyping tools.

The guaranteed way to improve technology design, development and marketing


The journey of creating a successful technology product is full of complexity. Over the course of months, sometimes years, we find ourselves second-guessing what problem we're trying to solve, wondering if there's a viable market and lastly, we lay awake at night worrying if this product can scale as big as we need it to. Pass me the Ambien!

The truth today is that design is more than a nice interface or logo. It's about understanding and navigating your way through many disciplines. It starts with building a collaborative team, creating a product users love, unlocking a story worth sharing, and, finally, making sure you have a profitable business at the end of this.

Over my career of building products, I have observed one major mistake that design teams keep making.  

Designers often make products that users don't want. 

This happens because the designer wears a UX, product and marketing hat different stages of the process. So unsurprisingly, you see designers working on the wrong thing at the wrong time.

And this mistake really hurts a business. No amount of good marketing will ever fix a lousy product. “Making products for your customers is far more efficient than finding customers for your products” — Seth Godin

Let's make products that customers love. Let's create things that matter in the world and are such good products that customers want to share the good news. The primary way to avoid making bad products is to use a three-step process of finding product fit.
1. Problem-solution fit
2. Product-market fit
3. Distribution-conversion fit

Product Fit in 3 steps

Product Fit in 3 steps

The catch with these three steps is the tools and approach change for each of the steps. If you can test the right product parts with the right users at the right time, you'll go along way in avoiding a product disaster.




1. Problem-solution fit

Rather than guessing a product idea, you have to start the journey by investigating your customer problems. You should design like Sherlock Holmes.

You should practice a range of research activities from user interviews, surveys and rapid prototyping workshops to uncover customer problems worth solving.

You should recruit customers any way you can - friends, family, colleagues, even agencies. It can be beneficial to research and compare different segments of your potential customer market.

With curiosity and discovery as your default mode, you should use the Value Proposition Canvas as the vital tool to collect your tested insights and ideas.

A validated set of pain relievers and gain creators will be the point at which you know you've completed problem solution fit.




2. Product-market fit

You're fully charged because there's a problem in the world you can solve. Now it's all about focussing on creating a product that can deliver the solution. 

Product-market fit is all about building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). This means going beyond user experience design. This step requires some product management thinking. 

You'll need to use the full lean canvas to not only understand the value proposition, but also the costs, revenues and metrics associated with the product.

During this step, you'll need to see real evidence for all of your assumptions and ideas. You'll know you've successfully completed this step when you have a viable and profitable MVP that has survived in the jungle of real-world beta testing.




3. Distribution-conversion fit

The MVP has worked, yet your work continues. Put the UX and product management skills to one side for a moment because we're heading to Madison Avenue.

We need the product to demonstrate it can attract paying customers. Beyond that, we must find a cost-effective set of channels and tools to acquire the customer. Customer acquisition is often underestimated as a cost item.

That's right we're looking for some real traction. That means we need to pay for advertising, create our own media and earn social currency. And these all need to come together as a collective to drive growth.

At this point, you should be doing a lot of A/B testing across a variety of customer segments. You'll be testing story, format, call-to-action and many other things that drive distribution and conversion.

Your default tools will start with Google Analytics, AdWords and go far beyond. This process never really ends, but you'll know your product has indeed come of age when you see organic growth and sustainable conversion rates.

With these three steps, you'll find some comfort in a world of complexity. And that should create some time and space to devote to building a world-class product.