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Top 10 Traits Of A Successful Product

Ideas are dime a dozen. Have you ever heard that? We all have million dollar ideas and we all have really bad ideas knocking around in our heads. The difference between the Larry Pages and J.K Rowlings of the world starts with their ability to birth those thoughts into reality. Cultivating, and growing an idea from conception into a tangible, usable product is an astronomical feat in and of itself. Unfortunately, that isn’t even half the battle.

Barring any discussion about pre-launch requirements, testing, and marketing, the idea alone that you run with needs to have something to it. It needs to be well timed – does current infrastructure support your product, is the world ready for it? Secondly, your execution needs to be near flawless – Your product needs to be good.

Top 10 Traits Of A Successful Product

1. Quick! What Does Your Product Do?

Mastering the art of the pitch is essential to conjuring interest in your product. Being concise and succinct will give a potential user or investor all of the information they need in one or two sentences. What’s your logline? If you can’t sum up your product in one or two sentences, then there just might be a problem.

Having an easily definable product allows potential users to classify it appropriately. You can definitely build a host of functionality into the product, but if you can’t define exactly what your product specializes in, how would a potential customer be able to find it and the value it provides? How will a potential customer understand what it does?

Your ability to clearly state what your product is and what it does is a testament to how well you know your own creation. How thoroughly and clearly did you understand the problem you’re solving and the method by which you will solve that problem before you began development.

2. Who Even Cares About It? Let’s Talk Credibility

This is the hard part. Gaining credibility through testing, focus groups, and a methodical pre-launch rollout can greatly increase your chances of releasing a successful product. Do you have a solid group of first adopters who can testify to your product’s claims? Do you have your set of beta testers who will evangelize on your product’s behalf?

Unless you can get your product onto store shelves, or into a popular marketplace in a prominent location, getting eyes on your product requires a very deliberate and methodical roll out. It’s not enough to build the thing. You need people to know about it, use it, and most of all… love it. Once you have that core group of users leveraging them for reviews and testimonials is a crucial step in building social proof around your product.

Nobody really wants to buy a product that makes big claims yet is largely untested. Social proof is important to alleviating the initial obstacle of being new to the game.

Some ways you can build social credibility is by growing a community around the product. This is why sites like Kickstarter work so well. Not only do inventors get to prove the viability of their products by pitching to a potential pool of customers, but they get immediate feedback on the concept in terms of pre-orders/donations.

People ponying up their money before the product is even built is an excellent indicator of the current market need. Additionally, this fuels a community of early adopters around your product who will evangelize on your product’s behalf. They will do a lot of the outreach and marketing heavy-lifting for you. What The Bug Squasher did was make the rounds on Podcast shows.

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3. What Value Are You Bringing To The User?

Let’s talk value! A product that is cool, but doesn’t add anything to a users life isn’t likely to become a great hit. What makes your product valuable? Why did you build it in the first place? How is it different? What high-value problem does your product solve? Where does your product succeed when competitors fall flat?

It’s super exciting to grow a germ of an idea and even more exciting to make that vision a tangible reality. However, you have to ask yourself if your idea is worth creating. Sure you can enter a market with existing competitors. You don’t have to be completely original, and it can actually be a good sign if you have competition. That means there’s demand for your type of product. The tricky bit is deciding whether the market really needs your version. What are you bringing to the table that your competitors just can’t match?

There are a couple of ways you can infuse value into the product. Building in highly sought, unique features not currently available in competitive products can serve to make yours irreplaceable. Additionally, building a product that is better than the current market options, and making it cheaper to use than your competitors will act as an excellent value play. Think inexpensive, not cheap. You’re not cutting back on functionality, in fact, your product blows away the competition. The death knell for your competitors is the fact that your product is superior in addressing customer needs while costing less.

4. The Product Has Great Synergy… Synergistically Speaking

Synergy is a really fun, and often overused buzzword in business. However, the product you build needs to be synergistic. It needs to fit, it needs to flow, it needs to have a place in the market.

First, let’s assume you’re an established company building a piece of technology. For this example, you are not an inventor sitting in your mom’s basement. If you’re developing tech for broad appeal, you must identify how relevant it is for your company to be producing it. Technology synergy is a measure of how far from your current technology a company must stray in order to build the new product. In other words, does it makes sense for you business? Or are you inventing a portal to act as a shower curtain…

We developed The Bug Squasher out of a direct need of our own. Through our parent company Treehouse 51, a digital agency, we were forced to build tools that just didn’t exist, or would supplement when the current tools on the market underperformed. In building websites for various clients’ businesses, we had a need for a clear and concise way to give and receive feedback internally between team members, while making the tool easy enough for clients to use as well – just point and click – all while avoiding the pits of email inboxes; Google Sheets could only go so far. Thus, The Bug Squasher was born.

The second aspect of synergy has to do with something we already touched upon. Are you able to market the product? Is there marketing synergy? How well is the product you built matched with the existing marketing machinery of your business? Is there a way for you to get the word out?

5. “Build It And They Will Come” Isn’t Good Business Advice

Building a product just to build it isn’t sound business advice, nor is it a good marketing strategy. A key step in determining if you should even move forward with building a product is determining your access to resources. Do you have the necessary capital, equipment, talent, and infrastructure to build and market the product?

Do you have the right team to make the product launch successful? Do you have a plan set. If not, do you have the ability to find the right people to market effectively? An insufficient marketing effort will take a great product and bury it in obscurity before it ever has a real chance to compete.

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Additionally, not having the right team in place to get the product built and launched in time can be equally damaging. Were you too slow in getting it to market? Did the right time pass you by or did a competitor enter the field and gain market share while you were stuck in development?

6. Who Really Wants Your Product Anyway?

We previously mentioned market readiness. This is vitally important to launching a successful product. It does not pay to be ahead of your time here. Identify if a market for your product even exists. How big is that potential market? There needs to be enough people in a given market that you can reach in order to be viable. Also, ask yourself, “In what direction is the market going?” You don’t want to be innovating on the horse-drawn carriage as cars gain popularity. You’ll be left in the dust. Solving problems that are about to be obliterated by new technology entering the marketplace will only help you create a business that is immediately obsolete.

Did you design the product with your current market in mind? Or are you scrambling to find where it fits? How much of the market can you realistically expect to capture? Identifying the market, isolating their highest value problems, then creating solutions to those problems is an approach that is better suited to success than designing product without a sizeable market in mind. Solving high-value issues will make your product important to those in the market.

If your product is a uniquely original idea, and there is nothing else in the world like it, will potential customers even get it? Does it have mass appeal? Being too niche in an already niche market might be a recipe for failure. Understandably the axiom “the riches are in the niches” exists for a reason, however getting too niched down in an already niche excludes most of that market. Does your product have mass appeal within the niche? Your product needs enough appeal to capture as much market share as possible.

Getting your product on the radar of the right people is only a small percentage of the overall battle. Once you get the product into their hands do the right people even want your product? Poor alignment with the market will result in failure.

7. You Know How To Reach Your Customers

Distribution is closely related to, but uniquely different than marketing. This is where you have to know who your target customer is, and how are you going to reach them? What channels do you have at your disposal to build awareness of your product and get the product to people who can benefit from it?

Thinking too locally in this stage can act against you. Do you have a global product? Is your product easily distributable oversees in potentially less competitive markets?

Acting here in the United States, for instance, the assumption is that we are producing software for Americans. This is not only potentially too narrow, but it can prove to be an incredibly difficult battle during outreach and marketing. Considering other English speaking nations from the outset broadens our horizons and gives us more of a chance at finding our audience.

8. The True Costs Of Your Product

We already spoke of value which hinges greatly on the cost, but this is where we get into the actual dollars and cents of it all. It’s important to understand the financials of your product, not just how much a customer will be charged to use the product. How much does it cost to build? How much does it cost to market? How much does it cost to run? Do you need manpower to keep the product functional for customers as in the case of software.

Next, how will the product be monetized. It’s not enough to get customers on board, but how will the product make money? In selling widgets it’s pretty clear – build widget, market, and sell the widget. When it comes to digital goods such as web apps, tools, and websites the monetization strategies available are more varied – free to try, freemium, ad supported, memberships, and onetime purchases to name a few.

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Balancing startup and operating costs with the value you’d like to provide to customers can be tricky. It’s not enough to build a superior product and then price it cheaper than the competition. The competition might have very good reason for operating under that price point. It doesn’t make sense to get in a price war and fight for the bottom if it will just put you out of business. How much runway do you have to operate at a loss, if you choose to? How many customers do you need to break even?

9. Know Where You’re Stepping When You Put One Foot In Front Of The Other

How will you know when you are successful during each phase of development and launch? You have to clearly define your goals each step of the way. Without metrics by which to judge and monitor your efforts, you won’t know if those efforts are working.

Does everyone on the team understand what the goals are and what metrics you’re using to define success? For instance, in marketing a brand awareness campaign is very different from getting people to take action on your businesses site. Building a base of followers on social media looks different than making sales. If your team excitedly shows you all of the new backlinks you earned, and social media mentions, but your definition of success was sales then your focus is out of alignment and everyone is spinning their wheels on the wrong things. Money and time are being wasted.

Have the right team in place and make sure they know what’s important at each step.

10. Do You Have A Process In Place To Improve?

You’ve defined a problem, developed a solution, and packaged it into a superior and marketable product. You haven’t waited too long to launch and your timing and market synergy are perfect. If you didn’t wait too long to release, then your product probably has much room for improvement. Consider this your minimal viable product.

Have you set up a system by which you can iterate and improve? Have you created a feedback loop and attracted your first fans to the product early on? Have you cultivated your power users who are eager to test and share improvements with you? Have you built that into your first group of beta testers?

Iteration and product updates aren’t unique to software development. Apple is a hardware company who’s newest releases of past products are highly sought. Remember, the first iphone couldn’t even copy-and-paste. Multitasking? Non existent. Does this anger its core user base? No. In fact, many apple lovers pride themselves on getting the newest product version. This can work for you product as well.

New technology is introduced into every industry every year. Refusing to update and improve upon your product will only prove to make you and your business obsolete. We live in a very dynamic world, technology is quick to change. Finding better ways to solve your customers problems and staying ahead of the curve will keep your product and business relevant.

Final Thoughts

It’s not enough to have great ideas. It’s not enough to build your great idea into a superior product. You need the right resources and team to execute and a plan to get your product into the hands of your ideal customer. Once your product is well received and you’ve won enough market share to be sustainable, the fun of improvements begin. Stay relevant and keep moving forward.

– The Bug Squasher Team

P.S. A successful product is one that can solve a problem better than any other solution out there. But it doesn’t do any good if you don’t let the world know about it.

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