How and Why Saying No Helps Your Product Strategy
After you start a new company or create a new product, your first clients will always hold a special place in your heart. After all, they were among the first to put their faith in your product or service. With that, however, can come an increased pressure to satisfy their every need, which could be detrimental to your overall growth.
In the early stages of any venture, there is a lot of ambiguity and uncertainty. Initial decisions are largely based on strategic assumptions, early feedback from your professional network, and publicly available information. You’re still testing out your unique value proposition and further defining your overall strategy.
Then bam. You get your first client. Then your second. And along with the revenue they bring to the table comes requests for additional features or offerings—some brilliant, others not so much—but either way, you’ll feel pressure to start working them into your plan. And, in that scenario, with each new client you bring on, the variations of your product or service could increase exponentially.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating that you say no to every client request. Instead, I’m recommending a more deliberate approach to making these design and development decisions from the start. In the early months or years, you may be tempted to try to work each request into your roadmap, even if the answer is “later,” to satisfy your client. These small decisions over time can lead to a product that is a mishmash of features and a deviation from your core value proposition.
What’s so bad about deviation? In some cases, it could lead to expansion into new customer segments, but more often than not, it leads to a bulkier product or service that is harder to maintain and update. Ad hoc modifications can leave your core clients waiting longer for updates, make you slower to respond to market shifts, increase your costs, and provide greater opportunity for competitors to eat away at your market share.
So, what’s the alternative?
- Spend time upfront developing a strategy for your product that is tied to a strong problem statement serving your core clients. Then fiercely protect it.
- Develop a process that you follow when considering client requests. Understand what problem the client is trying to solve. Determine whether other clients are experiencing a similar problem. Ask yourself if meeting this need aligns with your overall strategy. Then sleep on it.
- Don’t be afraid to say no. But have an explanation as to why. Then justify it.
The early days offer the most flexibility to hone your value proposition and create an experience that your customers love, but too much flexibility can lead to a dilution of the core competencies that set you apart from competitors.
At Katzcy, we help tech firms hone their core value proposition and integrate it into their product and marketing strategies. If you’d like to learn more about our process, contact the Katzcy team!