Leadership – Building Product Series (Part 5) – Post MVP

First off, congratulate your team, and yourself, and anyone else tangentially involved. No matter what it took to get to this point I’m sure there were character building moments for everyone. You’ll look back and tell the story of the thing that we built and moments that got you there.

Now one of the tricker phases of the product begins. Because you’ll likely never hit that high you reached in the initial shipping. Everything from here on out is more defined, there will be milestones, or horizons, or versions, whatever you want to call them.

The first one is sometimes called fast-follow. I’d summarize it as the things you’re embarrassed about when you rushed to ship. If you’re being honest with yourself, you called done, but weren’t really happy about it, but you needed that pressure released and so you let a few things go, throwing them in the fast-follow category.

Clean those up before you move on, if you don’t do it now, it’ll never get done. You’ll have nagging issues that follow you to milestone infinity and beyond.

While the team is busy cleaning up the mess you made pre-launch it’s up to you, the product manager, the design representative, and the engineering manager, (Remember the triangle) to get to work.

When you first ideated the product you likely had some research, and some assumptions about what your market wanted. Now you delivered some facsimile of that thing. Did it really address the thing that you thought it would? Metrics are your best friend here. Didn’t include any because you cut them from shipping, oops. Next time, don’t do that, at least include the bare minimum. Ok, time to get ahold of users the old fashioned way.

Assuming you figured out that yes, indeed you built the right thing. Your users / customers are excited about it, they just wish it could do this one related thing. Ok, great. You got your next milestone, find enough overlap of users wanting that next thing and build it.

Now, back to metrics. Assuming you don’t have perfect fit, as referenced about, let’s look to the metrics to figure where things are falling apart. Funnels are usually the go-to representation here. There was some demand for the product, and you have users reaching your product, creating the “top of the funnel”, where are they falling off between there and the action you want them to take. Some examples of those actions might be, Register, Buy something, Subscribe, Tell a Friend, etc.

Address that weakpoint of your funnel, that’s where you want to go next, in this scenario.

Ok, what if there wasn’t users knocking down your door and getting to the top of the funnel. This one is tricky, and more the domain of a marketing professional than your author. But a few category of things exist here, paid and unpaid.

Paid sounds like what it is, your organization has the capital and is commited enough to pay to advertise your product. Awesome. What you need to be tracking now is cost of aquire, and it becomes now doubly important you get the users once in the top of the funnel, through the funnel, and that’s the conversion rate.

Second is unpaid. Less and less so, but Google, and let’s be honest it’s the only game in town, will bring you users that search for “Your Product” some of the time. This is more the case with an existing brand and very difficult to do if you don’t already have some sort of authority. You need to make sure you’re optimized in this area, as it can be free to acquire users. The other free avenue is what is lumped into social, it means getting people excited enough about your product to extend the reach and share, or retweet, or star, or what have you.

So all that’s figured out and we’ve got a product that’s doing what it’s supposed to. Fantastic, that’s when you get to boast about achieving product market fit, and from here on out, things are looking up.