Taking a product to market sounds easier than it is. Build something cool that everyone wants and – they’ll come. Of course, that’s a myth – so why do people consistently act as if it is gospel?
1) Before building anything – get cold hard facts (in the form of market data, focus group feedback and competitor analysis) to back up that your product is a) needed b) wanted and c) people are willing to spend money to get it.
2) Perform a 30,000-foot feature review by taking competitor intelligence, market demands, and the key functions your target user needs to have. As you scope each feature, note how common versus unusual it is in the marketplace. You want Google’s search algorithm, but you note that nearly every other search doesn’t correct your spelling as google does. Use this list to get a rough estimate in time and money for a minimum viable product.
3) Do not build the MVP, instead of mock up wireframes and conduct more focus groups about what potential users want to see in your product. Choose a group of people who are your target users – they know why they hate what they’re using, the pain and frustration they feel. If they don’t hate what they’re using and feel no pain or frustration – consider NOT building your product at all. There’s a lot to be said for grabbing market dollars away from competitors, but users don’t switch without a need.
4) Once you’ve determined these things take a look at your market potential. Take a few different price strategies and run the numbers to see how much of a market share would you need to break even? If that number is more than 1% – or perhaps if it is as high as 1% – consider a different strategy or a different product.
The bottom line is – do not build a product that’s in search of a market. Let the market decide what you should build. The world is full of great products that no one uses because people convinced themselves it was essential – without any evidence to back that up.
I know it’s fun to build stuff, I do that for a living. But save yourself a great deal of energy and time by making sure you’ve got a market – a market willing and able to use your product, at a price point that’ll make an effort worth it – oh, and assume the effort is 5x what you figured it would be.