How to Build a Successful Product That Customers Want to Buy
Last month, I wrote about my product playbook, a guide I put together because I was answering a boatload of the same questions for startup founders suffering from stagnant growth and lifeless products.
In that post, I started at the very top, with the startup’s vision. In this post, I’m going to jump ahead in the playbook to the most critical part of the product development process.
Once vision, mission and position are settled, and once a target market is defined, the most important choices are those that concern what features to build into the product itself.
This is product-market fit. It’s a target. And aiming at it should never be guesswork.
What Is Product Market Fit, Really?
First, I’m going to do a quick high-level overview of product-market fit so we’re all on the same page when I use what is essentially a buzz-term.
Product-market fit is a relatively new term, usually credited to a couple of Silicon Valley venture capitalist investors, with ultra-famous VC Marc Andreesen popularizing it when he said that achieving product market fit meant this:
“Being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.”
I mean… you know it’s water because it’s wet. Or more to the point, you get product market fit when a lot of people buy what you’re selling.
Product market fit is not a science to be decoded. It’s just a term. So let’s break down Andressen’s definition. Once you define your target market, you’ve identified a market that is hopefully a “good market,” per that definition of product market fit. So now we need to decide whether or not your product can “satisfy” that market.
Well, that satisfaction is going to come from solving that market’s problems. You need to identify, expose and promote the value of your solution to those problems to your target market.
So in real terms, you need to build a product that is the embodiment of a solution that solves your target market’s problems.