Let’s assume at this moment that you have established a market for your venture and verified that it’s the right one. You’ve also decided on your approach to that market and articulated your plan to capture it through your business plan. Now let’s move on to your product plan.
Typically, the ideas behind your product will be articulated through a product plan that will identify milestones on the path to your actual launch date. In a perfect world, you would be able to develop your product and get it established into the market before ever needing to work with financiers to further expand your market presence. Whether you need funding to get out of the starting gate or later in your product life cycle, you will want to create a well-articulated product plan that comprises all the steps involved in building the product, prototyping it, and getting it out the door.
Anticipate and Articulate Your Customer’s Needs
There are a lot of product plan resources that are available to you on the internet, so today I’m going to focus on how to further develop your product plan for greater market success. Begin by focusing your product plan on your customer’s requirements and desires. It should represent that vision and encapsulate how the venture intends to go to market with a product (or service) to meet those needs. Include features and functions, usage scenarios or use cases based on those client requirements and incorporate the most common value-add components also.
Along with articulating customer needs, it should also address potential pain points. After all, if you understand what causes them pain, you can more effectively build a product to alleviate it. Your plan should clearly and succinctly call out the customers’ needs and how the venture plans to fulfill those needs via its future products.
A True North for Product Development
Your product plan should also serve as a fundamental guide post for the product development team. It’s reference points and milestone markers will lead the team through the developmental process. There will undoubtedly be critical junctures and decision points where choices will be made in terms of features, focus and resources. It is at these times that the product plan will serve as a hallmark of what the venture must achieve, in terms of priorities, in the marketplace to be successful.
A Guide for Sales and Marketing
Since the product plan captures the needs of the customers and also how the product will work to satisfy those needs through various features and functions and in what time-frame, it can also serve as a foundation for the sales and marketing teams to plan their go-to-market (GTM) strategy and supporting activities. It will point them to markets to target for their campaigns and use cases for customers in those theaters.
It also provides marketing with a guide for determining competitive advantages and comparisons of features and functionality for positioning. For the sales teams, the product plan helps them understand and identify key customers that can be targeted and what product elements matter most to them. This ensures that the sales and marketing team’s GTM activities are aligned with the product development and executive teams.
In my experience, aligning product development with marketing and sales strategies in your product plan represents a rather unique viewpoint on the use of a product plan. Usually the thought is that a product plan is solely focused on the product. However, when you articulate the intersection of your product strategy as it relates to your customers and their needs, you create a truly compelling, valuable product plan to lead your venture.
It is important to ensure proper project alignment throughout your company. A product plan will help you do that and it will help you effectively pivot and shift to reflect changing market needs throughout your product life-cycle.
About this blog The goal of this blog is to share my experiences, to capture and reveal valuable insights, and to draw from my serial entrepreneur-ship through 7 ventures over the past 20 years. I have encountered many impressive entrepreneurs along the way and I hope to share our collective experience with you to help teach and perhaps motivate you to launch your own B2B or B2C enterprise.
Like what you’ve read, or not? Have a question or a topic to suggest? Want to get another perspective on an issue or challenge you’re facing? I welcome your comments, feedback and insights below or feel free to email me here.
© Jitin Agarwal – All rights reserved. This blog is property of Jitin Agarwal and leadingventures.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jitin Agarwal and leadingventures.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For this blog, in instances where other previously copyrighted content, trademarks or brand references are used and noted as such, the author disavows any ownership claim, trademark, copyright or intellectual property ownership of these items and they remain the property of their respective and original owners, their inclusion in this blog is merely for illustrative example purposes only.