I’ve met companies at different stages of product development, and there’s one thing most have in common – technology is the heart of a new product or service. I’m not against technology. Quite the opposite. I I love technology. But this is a warning about the dangers of falling in love with your product – not one that belongs to someone else.
If you’re bringing a technology-based product to market, then you could be at risk from this malady. It’s something I’ve witnessed again and again.
So what are the signs and the dangers of falling in love with your product? Self-analysis is always difficult when you’re so close to something to get perspective. But here are three areas where you can test yourself to see if something is going wrong.
Symptom #1) You’re looking for perfection. You keep adding new features and tweaking the product before it’s launched. This is the problem of over-engineering. The consequences are serious: longer and longer time-to-market and overspending on a product that hasn’t started bringing in revenue. In the meantime, the window of opportunity is closing. You’re also locking up valuable resources (people, time and money).
Symptom #2) You’re so dazzled by new features that you can’t help falling in love with your product – and now you can’t stop talking about them.
This is where an understandable passion for your creation mutates into excessive product focus. Damage occurs when you start reaching out to potential customers: You talk about yourself and your product, not the benefits you bring to customers. Excessive product focus can also weaken your marketing proposition. You become too distracted – caught up in feature-by-feature comparisons with other products and pricing discussions.
Symptom #3) When it comes to budgets, you’re only willing to spend if it makes the product better. At first, this sounds like good business sense. But it’s really a misallocation of resources. Suppose you spend 95 per cent of your budget on the product, but you refuse to spend five per cent on marketing and BizDev because you believe that money may be enough “to improve the product” that tiny bit more. Without spending on these other things, you’ll have no first-day clients.
In fact, it could take weeks and months to create demand. Really, you should be investing in developing the commercial proposition much earlier – while the product improvement phase is happening.
What’s the antidote to product love?
I’m tempted to say the answer “product loathing” but that’s the worst outcome of all. Rather, the best approach is to always focus on your clients – and how you can help them tackle their business challenges in a simple, effective and profitable way.
Build a prototype/MVP as soon as you can. And if you don’t have capabilities, time or the right focus, rely on experts (not consultants!) to help you. Technology is a means to an end. We should always reflect this in the way we define strategies and approach clients. Their challenges need to be at the top of the agenda. Technology follows.
Stefano Maifreni is founder and director of Eggcelerate.