"What Product Should We Build Next?"



"What product should we build next?"


It's the question we find many of our clients asking themselves when we first meet. The only thing worse than being stuck having to ask this question is not knowing you should be asking this question.


Designing desirable products starts with building the right product. There are millions of products that your company could design, but most of them will lead you to failure. Being able to see past the sea of possible products and focusing only on the right product will start you down the road to desirability.


So, how do you not only know what will be a good product for your company to develop, but also the one your customer finds most desirable?



This guide will help you identify what your next product should be:

(NOTE: Questions cannot be skipped. Each must be answered in order.)



(WHY) What's Your Objective?

This is often the toughest but most important question for product development teams to answer.


You need to be able to identify and articulate your reason for even developing a product in the first place. Is it to grow your company's share in the marketplace? Maybe it's to attract a new type of customer. Or, perhaps you simply need to keep your current customers coming back for more.


Your objective usually comes in response to a business problem or goal and is what you're striving to accomplish by going through all of the trouble to put a new product out into the world.



(WHo) Who Do You Help?

In other words, who is your target customer?


This step gets skipped over the most by the altruistic "Oh, my product is for everyone" mindset, but defining exactly WHO your product is for is arguably the most important step in ensuring you design a product that they'll find desirable.


Think of it this way. If you were picking out a gift and wanted the recipient to absolutely love it, wouldn't it be key to know who it's for?


Once you specify who you help, you need to get to know them. Like REALLY get to know them, maybe even better than they know themselves so that you can:

  • See the world from their perspective

  • Understand their lifestyle and behaviors

  • Appreciate their preferences & taste

  • Empathize with their pains and frustrations


(What) What's a problem they have that if you solved would satisfy your objective?

Now that you understand your target customer better than they know themselves, you'll have a front-row seat to observe their unmet needs and unsolved problems.


Take note of what struggles they encounter and make a list. Comb through this list and mark which problems would meet your objective if you were able to solve them.


From the narrowed list of problems you marked, pick the one problem that is of most interest to your company, aligns with your competencies, and poses the largest opportunity.


Take your chosen customer problem and write it out big and clear for everyone on your team to refer back to throughout the entire product development process. If your product veers away from solving this problem, it'll also be veering away from being desirable.



(HOW) What are all of the ways you could solve this problem?


With the problem in clear sight, brainstorm all of the possible ways that your company could solve this problem. The more ideas the better at this stage. You want an exhaustive pile of every possible product idea. So, don't disclude any dumb or outlandish idea. You'll edit later.


Ok, now it's selection time. You're going to do this by plucking out the weak ideas until you're left with only the most promising few.


Pin up all of your ideas so that your team can see them all at once. Go through all of them and:

  1. Eliminate the ones that are outside of your company's competency

  2. Remove solutions that are inaccessible for your target customer

  3. Pick the 1-3 product ideas with the least amount of competition

As a gut check, take your winning ideas and judge them against the first three questions in this guide. A desirable product MUST solve a meaningful problem, so double-check that your selected product ideas do in fact solve an important problem for your target customer.




Pat Brown from Impossible Foods, followed this guide beautifully.

(Keep in mind, he answered these questions in order, BEFORE he knew what his right product was.)


Here's how I'd fill in the answers on his behalf:


(WHY) What's Your Objective?

To identify the most important problem in the world that I could contribute to solving


(WHO) Who Do You Help?

The world


(What) What's a problem they have that if you solved would satisfy your objective?

The use of animals in our food system is having a catastrophic impact on the environment


(HOW) What are all of the ways you could solve this problem?

  • Educate people with data to change their ways

  • Use public policy to force their ways

  • Make plant-based meat that competes with animal-based meat to subversively influence their ways



Conclusion


Your next product shouldn't be chosen out of a hat. To ensure that it's a product with the potential to be desirable, it needs to be a product choice that stems from an empathetic, focused, and disciplined design strategy.

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