Microsoft fmr Product Lead on Product Research (Part 3)
It’s easy to say that having an established product and budget to burn would create the ideal business scenario for conducting product research. Clearly, there are advantages to having access to financial resources and leveraging your brand’s reputation to drive positive results. However, there are challenges that come with “having it all” – especially when you’re trying to expand into new market opportunities.
I’ll share an example of this product research scenario from my time at iQmetrix. While it might not be a household name, iQmetrix is one of the most ubiquitous point-of-sale solutions on the market. Specifically, cell phone providers use the product to manage transactions. This may be a niche market, but iQmetrix accounts for more than 10 percent of cell phone providers – which is a significant amount of market share for any product.
To build on the brand’s strength, our challenge was to leverage iQmetrix’s power to create a new retail experience for cell phone providers. Specifically, this represented an opportunity to expand out of the company’s niche and expand its presence in retail environments. Our new product provided a virtual retail experience to cell phone providers that would streamline transactions. Using the strength of our current product to develop the initial concept, we were confident about its potential.
However, until a new product is “on stage” – it’s impossible to know if customers will respond positively.
So, our first big test was the industry’s largest trade show. Effectively, this served as a product research opportunity and a product launch simultaneously. For example, we built out the virtual retail environment on the trade show floor. Clearly, this was both an exciting and scary opportunity. While we were confident in the product, we also put ourselves out there for customers to judge it for themselves. Most importantly, we didn’t even have a product catalog with features and benefits. Instead, we had a sizzle video and the product itself.
Simply put, the trade show was a hit and customers were thrilled. The most significant learning here is that product research can validate your product by enabling customers to make up their minds. In other words, your customers can effectively sell themselves on your new product and imagine its benefits on their own. The key is allowing your customers to envision your product’s benefits just by introducing them to its potential. From there, it won’t take long to convince them of what your product can bring to the table.
About the speaker
Anne Weiler is CEO and co-founder of Wellpepper, a clinically-validated and award-winning platform for interactive treatment plans. She previously held global product management roles at Microsoft in new product development and emerging markets. She spent 3 years at Microsoft Russia leading the $300M Information Worker Business. Anne joined Microsoft in 2001 with the acquisition of a Canadian web content management company called Ncompass Labs. Anne holds a degree from the University of Waterloo and currently lives in Seattle.