Every business wants to build the right product that’s perfect for intended users and ultimately performs well on the market. Product discovery is a method that product managers and teams as a whole can use to understand what’s needed and how to better optimize it’s creation.
It’s a worthwhile process to include in project management. With so much focus on building products, attention is often lost on whether or not they’re the right fit for the market and the consumers you want to sell them to.
In this post, you’ll learn all there is to know about product discovery and the ways you can incorporate it into product management moving forward.
How Does Product Discovery Work?
Many product managers often find themselves struggling to come up with the next product idea, primarily due to lack of optimization and focus. A fully optimized product manager could increase company profits by 34.2%, which is substantial for many businesses, especially small companies and startups.
Offering product solutions that have no substance can result in money wasted on projects that haven’t been well-thought-out or failed due to lack of research or planning.
Product discovery is the process of focusing on problems your users are facing and what they need from the next product you create and develop for them. It’s the preparation that any project or plan would need because, without it, you’re heading into a process completely blind and unaware of how a product will perform.
A lot of businesses up until recently have neglected to actually listen to what customers have to say. Apptentive found that 62% of survey respondents weren’t confident they were heard after leaving feedback. Listening to your customers is very important.
What Techniques and Methods Are Used for Product Discovery?
When it comes to methods or techniques for product discovery, there are a lot of options you can choose to incorporate. From product analytic tools to customer feedback surveys and interviews, there’s a lot of data you can gather. They can also use them to know what you can improve and refine for future projects.
The goals, however, remain the same when it comes to what you’re trying to achieve. You want to get a deeper understanding of what customers need. With that understanding realized, you can then define and create the ideal solution that becomes your end product.
If product discovery isn’t something you’ve touched on before, then here are some key elements and steps to get you started.
The first step in the process should be research. As a product manager or team developing a new product, the first thing you should focus on is identifying what information and data you need.
Your research should include things like market problems and existing solutions that perhaps your competitors provide. Look at the condition of the market and any gap you could potentially fill in.
To start this process the right way, it’s useful to pull the ideal customer from the market to analyze and access. You gain valuable insights from doing so and there are plenty of product management tools you can use.
For example, if you’re looking to create surveys to run on a focus group or target market, then SurveyMonkey is a go-to. It’s free to use and an efficient way to collect data without having to manually bring everything together to analyze.
2. Brainstorm for Ideas
The next step is to gather your team and anyone involved in the process to brainstorm for ideas. Now that you’ve got some real data and insights to rely on for reference, your team members can confidently suggest product ideas that correlate with the needs of the market and customers.
During this product discovery phase, it’s critical to refer back to your customers so you can identify problems among products already on the market. What could you do better? What user problems could you solve through this idea?
3. Evaluate and Validate
The evaluation process of this practice helps you prioritize ideas in relation to their importance or how difficult they may be to develop. These ideas can be broken down into categories to better assess their potential.
The validation phase of the discovery comes next. As much as the idea might seem like the right choice, testing is required. User testing and prototyping are two essential parts of product development and they maintain their importance in product discovery.
Maze is a great platform for user testing and prototyping just like Invision or Sketch. Maze provides rapid testing that can help provide quick solutions so if one idea doesn’t work, you can move quickly onto the next. Any kind of prototyping can be helpful to see how the product is engaged with and what requires changes.
The product you’re developing needs to be given a test run to see how your customers would react and whether or not they actually need it. In fact, a majority of online businesses fail because of bad usability, so user experience (UX) is a key player in the success of your product.
3. Learn from the Process
The purpose of product discovery is to get a deeper understanding of users’ desires and needs, then using that knowledge to create a product that solves their problems. Each product discovery you introduce to the development will help you learn. So next time, when you are faced with similar problems or stumbling blocks, you’ll know how to address them.
Product development is a learning process because the market isn’t guaranteed to stay the same forever. In fact, with the digital world being what it is and what it’s become, your business will need to adapt.
What Are the Benefits of Product Discovery for Product Management?
Introducing product discovery has many benefits but many product managers may not realize the impact it could have in terms of opportunities and the products they can end up creating. Below are five product discovery benefits that will make a real difference to how you enter the market with your next product.
1. Helps Define Your Target Audience Clearly
According to a 280 Group survey, 21% of products fail to meet customers’ needs and a lot of that will likely be because they’ve not defined who they’re targeting and what they’re after. When you introduce product discovery methods like customer feedback sessions and interviews, it helps you connect with your target audience. You begin to understand their needs and what they want from you as a business in a much more detailed manner than you would have previously.
2. Saves Money throughout the Process
Any new product development can often bring about worries regarding money. Whether or not worries stem from managing expectations from stakeholders and investors to ensure the budget lasts, being able to save money is important. Product discovery can help streamline initial costs, thus helping your business from exceeding estimated costs along the entire project timeline.
3. Increases the Value of the Product
The value of your product will go up when it’s offering more to customers and your customers will be willing to pay more, too. If you’re able to satisfy more of the customers’ needs than any other product on the market currently, then they will see that value as a worthwhile investment.
4. Reduces Risks
Any product management has attached risk factors and while not all risks can be neutralized, product discovery can help reduce them. By taking a more detailed look into your product’s concept, you and your team can help better identify the potential pitfalls and risky decisions you’ll likely want to remove from the process.
5. Speeds Up Development
Attention to detail can speed up the development of a product, an outcome that’s music to the ears of stakeholders. Proper planning when developing a product can help you outshine the competition and impress your customers.
Product discovery is a process that can help maximize the chances of your product succeeding and, most importantly, set the foundation of a long and successful project line for your business. Knowing what your customers want and delivering the right solution will lead to great success on the market.