Jane Portman: “Product Strategy for Founders – How to Build Focused & Profitable Software Products” – FemtoConf 2017

The FemtoConf 2017 Notes and recaps can be found on the central hub page.

Website: TinyReminder.com
Twitter: @uibreakfast

  • Created “Mastering App Presentation” with no product strategy in place
  • Poor strategy is a recipe for disaster

Why your product should exist

  • Research your audience
  • find what pains they are experiencing
  • Do a “sales safari”
    • scour forums, etc. where people are not actively talking about products
  • Define your strategy
    • write down the strategy
  • Apply your strategy
  • Deal with new features
  • Think large scale

Define your strategy

  • four pillars of product strategy
    • Audience
    • Goals
    • Tasks
    • Objects
  • Audience
    • Who is your ideal user (paying customer)?
    • Do you know them? 
    • Do you like them? 
      • You’ll have to interact with them until the end of time
    • Can they pay you? 
      • School systems have tons of problems, but very little money to go around
    • Do you know how to reach them? 
      • Brick & Mortar businesses are notoriously hard to reach as a bootstrapper
      • Do they have online forums? 
  • Goals
    • What goals is the user trying to achieve with your product? 
      • Make more money? 
      • Look good in front of their customers? 
      • Example: I want to write a book because then I can…
        • build authority
  • Tasks
    • What primary tasks does the suer perform daily with the help of your product?
    • Where does the main value come from? 
      • e.g. TinyReminder sends reminders to clients and urges them to fill in an online form
      • online form building is an essential feature, but NOT the main benefit
    • Classify tasks by type
      • Analytical
      • Proactive
      • Reactive
  • Objects
    • What objects (entities, items) do users create and manage while performing their tasks? 
      • Gives you a good idea of how to structure your product
  • Use the real language of your customers to describe product strategy

Apply your strategy

  • In your sales copy
    • Address the audience
    • Appeal to their big goals
    • Describe their tasks
  • In your product design
    • Facilitate the important tasks
    • Focus on one task at a time
    • Carefully manage the important objects
  • What did I do wrong with my first book? 
    • Very vague name, audience, goals & tasks
  • What we did right this time with Tiny Reminder
    • Precise audience (consultants)
    • Precise Goals
    • Precise Tasks

Deal with new Features

  • Her mom gifted two fish to her kids
    • Implications: 20 gallons of water for the first fish, 10 gallons for each additional fish
    • Like to dig out plants
    • Bully other kinds of fish
    • Need daily maintenance
    • ==> Get rid of the fish
  • New feature implications
    • Strategy becomes more vague
    • Marketing & sales become vague (which feature is important?)
    • Support & documentation
    • Usability
  • Classic qualifying questions
    • Does this feature solve a real pain? 
    • What are the development and support costs? 
    • Can we build an integration instead? 
    • What part of the existing user base will benefit from this immediately? 
      • e.g. only free users? 
  • Product strategy questions
    • Does it serve your ideal audience – or does it exapnd it? 
    • Does it serve the big goal – or does it add more goals? 
    • Does it facilitate the important tasks?
  • More goals and tasks don’t make a happy user

Think large scale

  • Nothing exists in isolation
    • Product is attached to you, your personality and your existing audience
  • Simple product lineup
    • Free lead magnet (free course)
    • Entry-point purchase (book)
    • Main product (SaaS, consulting)
  • Advanced product lineup
    • Free lead magnet (free course)
    • Entry-point purchase (book)
    • Medium-touch product (course, workshop, or consulting package)
    • Main product (SaaS, consulting)
    • super-expensive “dream” product (no one buys it, but anchors the price of other products)
      • e.g. a $8,000/mo design consulting offering for developer teams
  • Think of your personal strengths
    • Marie Poulin
      • Digital Streatgy School (expensive course)
      • Doki (courseware)
      • Consulting business (helping clients build courses)
  • Content strategy
    • Mailing list setup
    • Free course
    • Blog & newsletter
    • Book 
    • Podcast
    • Videos
  • Only count on your own audience!
    • No magic from Product Hunt or Hacker News
    • No influencer friends
    • No help from the people you interview
  • Focused strategy is a luxury you can afford

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About Christoph

Christoph lives in Munich, Germany and is bootstrapping his own SaaS application as a part-time entrepreneur.

He likes to write on this blog about anything of relevance to single-founder bootstrapped software startups.


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