Product Strategy: Ideation 101
RetailMeNot fmr Product VP on Product Strategy (Part 2)
When you set out to build a new product strategy, it’s critical to give yourself enough time and space for in-depth ideation. Specifically, this phase allows product teams to wrestle with different strategic ideas. Most importantly, the ability to take advantage of ideation allows you to ask questions. Ultimately, this will lead your team in the correct strategic direction.
To give you a frame of reference, here are some questions that I find helpful in kicking off the ideation phase.
Are you talking to your customers?
- Every product manager needs to be in tune with their customers’ needs. That said, it can be easier said than done to engage with customers in meaningful ways. For example, it may seem like you’re getting overwhelmed by bug fix requests or other small recommendations that don’t really drive value. However, the more you talk with customers, the better you’ll be at drawing quality feedback that can have a positive impact on your product strategy.
- Most importantly, your current customers don’t want to look elsewhere for help. Said differently, it’s important to remember that you own the relationship (especially in B2B scenarios). As a result, you’re always in a position of strength to work with your partners in continuing to deliver value.
What’s happening your overarching market?
- Before you get too deep into building a new product strategy, you need to spend time evaluating your current market. Specifically, ask yourself and your team to look critically at major shifts or trends that will impact your product and overall business in the short-term and long-term.
What are your competitors focusing on?
- Clearly, no one wants to be a “copy cat” product manager. Furthermore, no one wants to constantly change their product strategy based solely on what the competition is doing. That said, it’s vitally important to have a sense of how your competitors are placing their bets. In other words, you want to understand which opportunities they’re focusing on – which will allow you to better focus your strategic priorities. Plus, you should also look to see if recent decisions are “tipping their hand” in any way. This can give you a jump start on managing your strategic plan to react swiftly to what’s happening in your industry.
How are technological advances impacting your business?
- It’s easy to become enamored with buzzwords that appear in the news all the time. For example, everyone wants a piece of blockchain or machine-learning to positively impact their business. However, you can’t simply invest in “what’s hot” unless it’s actually going to benefit your business. Instead, you should evaluate new innovations to see if they provide tangible value to enhance your product strategy.