Want to build a killer product? It’s Time To Stop Thinking You Have a Technology Problem

Marius Vetrici PhD
CEO wpriders
February 27, 2019

Do you think you know what it takes?

Okay, I’m no motivational guru, but let me tell you a story about one of my close friends. The guy is a photographer – a highly creative and knowledgeable individual. Every time I talk to him, he tells me about how he’s learning to use a new camera accessory. 

He’s following hundreds of famous photographers on every platform there is, all in an attempt to understand what tools and techniques they’re using to take and edit pictures. He knows all that boring theory they teach you at Art School. He’s looking to perfect his skill in every way possible, and photography is everything to him.

You got it by now – he’s super passionate about photography, and, even with my non-expert eyes, I can tell that he’s really good at it. He’s got that something that gifted artists have where they can just “transport” you beyond the canvas, or the photographic paper, in this case.

My genius photographer friend rarely gets any clients

So you’ll be shocked to hear that my friend rarely gets any clients. He’s still working a 9 to 5 job, doing something completely different than photography.

Wanna know why? 

It isn’t because his competitors are better than him. I mean, sure, there are plenty of photographers on the market, but, if we’re honest, the majority are mediocre at best. I can’t even compare them to my guy.

Then what’s the problem?

The problem is that for years he’s been trying to perfect his photography skill. Actually, let me rephrase it: that’s ALL he’s been doing – working to become a great photographer.

Over the years, he invested all his money in cameras, lenses, editing tools, photography courses, workshops – you name it. The clients weren’t even on his list of priorities. Not that he didn’t want to get clients, but he just never thought about them, about what they wanted or needed.

His entire strategy was for him to become a great photographer and work on shots that he himself would like. He figured that, well, as long as you’re good at what you do, the clients will come.

He was too focused on doing what he loved, and he completely lost sight of what others would like him to do. Being good at what you do or offering a quality product is definitely a key factor, but is it the only thing you need in order to succeed?

Clearly, it isn’t. If quality was the only ingredient, then all those mediocre products and services would never sell.

Are you the reason why things haven’t been working out? Have you been making this critical mistake? 👇

Why am I telling you this story? It’s because you probably came up with a fabulous idea for a tech product yourself. And, just like my photographer friend, ever since you came up with it and decided to turn it into a product, your primary focus has been perfecting your product. Day and night, you’ve been wondering how to develop a tech solution like no other.

So you’ve been asking left and right for advice, but have you been asking the right question?

You probably reached out to 20 different people trying to find out what platform to use for your marketplace or online shop, and everyone told you something different.

A few people told you to use WordPress because it’s free. Others advised you to use SquareSpace, or Wix, or Webflow because those are easy to use. Most likely, the list of recommendations went on and on, only increasing your confusion.

You even reached out to the experts to learn more about the technical stuff. I can tell you that not seldom have I had people coming to me to ask about WooCommerce or BigCommerce, about Memberpress or WooCommerce Memberships, about Listify or Listable, about WCVendors or WooCommerce Product Vendors, wanting to know which one is better. 

And oftentimes I was approached by people who wanted to find out which plugin or theme they should use, and which hosting they should buy.

If this is the path you’ve been going, stop wasting your time! 

I can tell you that 9 out of 10 businesses don’t make it past the first year because the entrepreneurs don’t focus on the right thing.

The truth is this isn’t about you

So you’ve been thinking about plugins and themes or hosting. In other words, you’ve been thinking about developing an outstanding product. But here’s the thing, you can have the best product out there, but if you’re not thinking about who’s going to buy it, you’re not going to sell it!

And the truth is that unless you have a compelling business and marketing strategy in place, focusing on the tech part isn’t going to help much.

Let me put this in simpler terms: instead of thinking about plugins and hosting, and WordPress, talk to your prospective customers!

After all, you’re not building a product for the sake of finding out how good of a product you can create. You’re doing it because you want to solve real problems for real people and, of course, make a profit as a result. 

So instead of focusing on your product, focus on those real people. Reach out to them. Listen to their daily struggles, find out how they feel, what problems they have, what solutions they found to solve those problems, and why those solutions helped or didn’t help.

Oh, and take notes, a lot of notes. Those will be very useful down the road. The bottom line is that the spotlight should be on the customer, on your marketing message, your buyer personas, and business strategy in general, not on the tech stuff.

Here’s how that works in practice 👇

What you think, you become

And the same goes for your product. What you think of it, it becomes. Having a great idea isn’t enough to succeed. Every entrepreneur had at least one excellent idea, but not everyone who has had a big idea can be an entrepreneur. To turn that thought into a product, you first need to turn it into a vision.

So begin by visualizing your product. Take the time to put your idea on paper. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but binding it to paper will make it easier for you to think and talk about it.

Find out what makes people tick

Envisioning the product is an excellent starting point, but, as we’ve already established, it’s nowhere near enough. If you want to create something of value, you’re going to have to co-opt some co-creators.

That’s why I encourage you to go out there and talk to as many people as you can.

Here’s what you need to learn about them:

  • What triggers their search for a solution like yours?
  • What makes them prioritize the search for a solution like yours?
  • What is their definition for a successful solution like the one you are providing?
  • What specific characteristics should this solution have?
  • What are the first questions that pop up in their head when seeing your product?

Additionally, there are two more essential things you need to know:

  1. Find out what objections people come up with when considering buying the solution (the product) you provide.
  2. Investigate whether the people you’re talking to have already searched for a solution like yours. If so, invite them to describe their journey (the user journey). In other words, find out what motivated them to start looking for a similar type of product in the first place and where exactly they went to search for that product. Finally, ask your audience how they evaluated the solutions they had come across and how they would describe their overall customer experience.

Get your ducks in a row

You know how that saying goes: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Luckily, by now, you probably already have enough data to start creating a business plan and define your product with accuracy.

A great way to assess how clear you are in your own head about what you’re trying to achieve, and how well others can grasp your idea, is to compile a one-liner – a one-sentence explanation of what you’re doing – share it with 10-20 people and watch their reaction. 

Let me recap 👇

  1. Build a one-liner;
  2. Go to 3-5 networking events where you know you’ll have the opportunity to meet people who are likely to be interested in what you have to offer;
  3. Tell people in 30-60 seconds what you do;
  4. What are they saying in response? Likely, your one-liner won’t convey your ideas perfectly from the get-go. But if your interlocutor gets what you’re trying to say, they’ll probably reply with something along the lines of “oh, so you’re a…” and then they’ll explain what you said in their own words. If this is most people’s reaction, then congratulations! It means you’re on the right track. And if you do this exercise enough, in time, you’ll refine your one-liner up until it becomes a no-brainer.

Check out these one-liner examples from our customers:

  • Find Beauty Professionals Who Speak Your Language;
  • Find Superyacht Services and Training Today!
  • Do you need help with your homework? Solve the problem in 4 simple steps using our web platform: 1) Fill the homework form; 2) Set your deadline; 3) Pair up with a Teacher; 4) Hand in A+ Homework;
  • Automatically import RSS feeds to display them on your WordPress site;
  • AI-powered advertising to take your app to the top of the charts;

Do you have the perfect product for your ideal customer?

Okay, so you collected all the data you needed, you refined your one-liner and, implicitly, your business plan. Now what?

How do you know that your product will be successful? The truth is that too many companies fail because people start businesses on a whim and don’t do their research before investing in developing their products. Don’t be one of them! 

Doing your due diligence now will save you a lot of stress, effort, time, and money later down the line. 

What exactly do you need to do? 

If you’ve followed the previous steps, you probably already have an idea regarding what your product will look like and who might buy it. Now, you need to test those assumptions. Going forward, there will be no room for presuppositions. You need to know everything for sure. 

In fact, here’s exactly what you need to do: define the job to be done and determine the product-market fit.

Sounds complicated? Don’t worry! We’re talking about a simple, inexpensive process.

Essentially, what you need to do is notice patterns, and ask the right people (those who you think could be your ideal customers) the right questions. Pay attention to what they have to say in response, and make sure you clearly understand their needs and wants. 

Your ultimate goal is to determine the best solution for your ideal customer. Similarly, you want to know how likely people are to buy your product.

How do you do this?

  • Ask questions, check your assumptions;
  • Listen carefully to suggestions and pay attention to what consumers need and want;
  • Determine the common consumer patterns;
  • Determine the context surrounding consumption: why, when, where, how, with whom?
  • Test your solution – do you have the best solution for your potential buyer?

Once you determine the job to be done, it will be easier to come up with solutions to achieve the product-market fit.

How do you recognize a good marketing strategy?

Building an excellent product is one thing, but bringing in paying customers is an entirely different story. Since you’re just starting out, you probably don’t have a whole lot of money to spend.

The goal here is to maximize the ROI (return on investment) with efficient, targeted marketing. But how can you find the right marketing channel while keeping the marketing costs down?

If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to building marketing strategies, it’s best to reach out to the experts and let them do what they do best: promote your product to your ideal customer.

When you’re just launching a business, what you need is a core marketing plan to set things on the right track. You will know you have a compelling marketing strategy when the cost of acquiring a new customer is significantly less than that customer’s lifetime value.

In plain simple English, that means you are on a good path with your marketing strategy when the money you pay to acquire an extra customer is less than the profit you make from that customer in the long run.

If you cannot afford to hire a marketing specialist, you can take a look at http://digitalmarketer.com as they have tons of super valuable insights. 

I would also recommend you read the book Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth – where you will find out all about the marketing channels that successful startups (like Dropbox, Evernote, and others) used in order to launch their products, back when the companies were still in the early stages.

The big bad wolf that’s causing your business to fail

Okay, I’m not saying that technology is not essential. Clearly, these days, having the right technical partner and the right technological tools is crucial, regardless of your business profile. 

Nevertheless, the reason why most startups fail doesn’t have anything to do with technology. In fact, here are the main reasons why 90%* of startups never make it:

  • Poor product/service
  • No real market need
  • Poor marketing
  • Ignored customers/users
  • Not the right team
  • Your competitors outran you
  • Cost/cash flow issues

*As per our internal research, 9 out of 10 online businesses don’t make it past the first year.

Generally, entrepreneurship comes with a whole set of challenges – some easier to overcome and some harder. But despite the many challenges you need to face, it is also a rewarding experience.

If you’re a young entrepreneur at the beginning of your journey, or if you are considering becoming an entrepreneur, make sure to read and stay informed, but also know that there’s a whole community of successful people ready to lend you a hand. So if you’re struggling, don’t wait too long; reach out and ask for guidance.

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