In 2022, the global landscape is saturated with products. The main problem is that many products fail due to markets and people, but most leaders still remain focused on products. What are the most important approaches to successful product development? Team Wakabayashi Product Leader Dennis Wakabayashi shares his knowledge of Fortune 500 customer experience management,  the role of technology, and how to scale with success.

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On Finding Product Market Fit

Dennis starts off with the truth: That not all products or services are meant to go to market. However, this doesn’t mean a product can’t be evolved, grown, or changed in some way to make it have the best market fit to scale for success.

“Not all customers, not even a large number of customers, want many of the products and services that are out in the marketplace. Having said that, almost all products and market products and services can be optimized or evolved or grown or invested in to become something that the market wants. And that’s what we talked about this fit. Where are you today? Are your revenues exceeding expectations? Are they just meeting expectations? Or are they not meeting expectations? As we move to get connected between audiences and purchase behaviors, there are a lot of bitter truths along the way. So how do we figure out those things that we need to know to be to make a product that fits in the marketplace?

It’s not easy to accomplish this, but every brand that wants to be successful must do this. We must move to become learning organizations and accelerate our paths to truth. What that means is, there is a legacy or a history in business and economics of achieving goals. That achievement has been the thing that over time, we focused on so much that we haven’t really we’ve left behind our ability or our appetite … to fail better. And so what I would say is you see in the leading brands and the leading minds around the world, this new appetite to fail to perform poorly, to not get things right. But to take that as the win and learn from it. 

Unfortunately, that’s not exactly how Wall Street works all the time. We’re thinking of numbers, projections, goals, but I would say in your organization, a culture that embraces change and failing better is the culture in which finding your market fit prevails.”

On How Reputation Is Central To Strategic Success

Dennis shares how he always starts with profit, because “if we don’t generate revenue, we’re not really great stewards of the customer experience.” In order to do this, he has a flywheel framework that begins with reputation, with an amazing example of how that works (or doesn’t work) to help grow a product.

“If we’re going to pursue profit, and we need to start to dissect the world of customer experience and look at customer experience, just in three ways. The first one is reputation. These three ideas I’m going to share with you, there’s a virtuous cycle. They’re a flywheel framework if you’re familiar with that term, which means one leads to the next leads to the next leads back to the first. The importance of my flywheel framework is reputation is the entry point. what reputation is it’s the experience that audiences have with you your product, your service, or your brand. 

I will give you an example of where I saw this play out and how I came to it as a truth. I worked on a big burger chain, and I would go and I would stand on a corner and I would type in burgers near me. I would not get the results of the burger chain that I worked for. I am standing literally across the street, and I could not get the search results or burgers near me to match up. The reason being is Google, when it makes results for burgers, looks at the ratings and reviews or the reputation of a brand. What Google thinks is when I stand on a corner, and I type burgers near me, I want to see the best burgers first, not all of the burgers. We think that it’s going by geography, but it’s actually going up by the reputation of the brand. 

Why this is important is when we go out and we put ads in the marketplace, we put products in the marketplace, if we don’t understand the reputation that we have with our target market, we cannot place the product fit in possible place in the beginning, nor can we move the product fit to the destination that we want. So reputation understanding what your customers are thinking and feeling and in support of your brand or against your brand is central to your strategic starting point and how you go forward.”

On Tying in Reach and Relationships For Scale

After we have discovered the reputation of the product and what to do about it, it is next to go for reach and then relationships. Dennis explains how this flywheel framework comes together, and ultimately circles back to product market fit success.

“So when we think about these three pieces, reputation as the first, reach as the second axiom of customer experience, and relationships as the third, reputation reach relationships. 

Reach is what you do with the knowledge of your reputation, how you scale your product or service, or your customer experience to a macro level has everything to do with reach reaching new audiences. The customer intelligence or the persona work behavior intelligence that we learn in the reputation phase tells us clearly what products, services, geographies, and marketplaces where our customers are most active. 

When we know those two things [reputation and reach], and we’re connecting with them, we form relationships. I can go into relationship conversations all day long, but here’s what you need to know. Your CRM in your organization has the ability to attach different data fields to a customer persona. You can build the identities of the business product identities, their audiences to be your strongest asset in the development of your products and services. When I say the strongest asset, I mean the least expensive to cultivate the shortest path to revenue. These relationships in your CRM, you can add them manually, or there are now artificial intelligence services that are not very expensive on the enterprise scale that will go in and look at all of your customer touchpoints, all of the feedback and behaviors, the engagements, the triggers, the purchases, and those services, all this work for you to find where the personalization happens for audiences after greatest magnitude, hence revealing your biggest revenue opportunity. So relationships are about the fit.”

About the speaker
About the host
Deba Sahoo Fidelity Investments, SVP, Head of Product for Customer Journeys
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