How Product Managers Make a Great Impression With 1.0 Products
October 23, 2015

How Product Managers Make a Great Impression With 1.0 Products

by Ron Yang

You have big plans for your product and you know that the end vision is going to rock. The trouble is, you want your customers to love your product when you release Version 1.0.

You worry that customers will be underwhelmed by your first release, which may not have all of the features that you initially dreamed. Will it be enough?

The good news is that customers can overlook a very basic design if your product offers them a real solution to their problem. What they will not easily forgive is a product that has all style and no substance, especially one that fails to deliver on its promises.

So how do you make sure that your Version 1.0 product has that wow factor that you are hoping for, and makes a strong showing in the marketplace? It starts with a deep understanding of the value that you are going to deliver.

At Aha! we help companies of all sizes, from emerging startups to established global corporations, set strategy and build brilliant product roadmaps. When planning their roadmap, we encourage our customers to first consider what they will ultimately deliver to their customers. You can take this same strategy and apply it to your V1 product.

Focusing on the customer at the outset will help you prioritize only the features and ideas that will provide the most value to the product. Especially when you have limited time and resources to execute on your final vision.

You can delight your customers with a lovable product right from the start — as long as Version 1.0 delivers something of real value. Here is how you can make sure that happens:

Solve just one problem
You worry that the product will not have enough bells and whistles to please your customers. But often, people make the mistake of trying to do too many things with their Version 1.0. This ultimately backfires because they end up only partially solving many problems. Focus your energy on making sure it solves one essential problem first. Even if your 1.0 version is a simple design, your customers will find value if it achieves the goal.

Be transparent
Focus on making Version 1.0 as excellent as you can make it, but be careful not to promise features which will not make it into the first iteration. You want to have the humble confidence that your product will be valuable to customers, but give yourself space to explain why it does not have every feature under the sun. Not only does this demonstrate that you have integrity, but it also allows your customers to see where you are headed. And you are headed for big things.

Differentiate everywhere
You need to set your product apart from your competitors. Aim for a fantastic product and customer experience all the way around. Customers will be looking carefully at everything you do, so surprise them with your availability and responsiveness. Listen and learn from customer feedback, and apply what you learn to future releases. And make sure that your customers know how much you appreciate their input. That will help you win over customers and earn their continued loyalty.

Deliver a complete experience
A new product is more than when product management and engineering releases a set of features. It is about the entire customer experience. When planning your product launch, you must factor in design and development, testing, training your support and sales teams, creating your marketing materials, preparing for publicity, and follow-up.

Do not worry if your debut product does not have all the extras that you first envisioned. That is okay. This thoughtful approach will translate into a great experience for customers from the moment they first hear of the product, visit the website, and decide to make a purchase.

When you achieve this important victory of your first successful release, you will start to build a following of loyal customers who will want to see you succeed.

Version 1.0 will be the start of something great. Once you start establishing that trust by solving a key problem for your customers, they will be looking forward to what features you will roll out next.

What advice can you offer to others building their version 1 product?

Ron Yang

Ron builds lovable products. He is the VP of Product Management at Aha! — Ron has more than 15 years of experience in entrepreneurship and leading product teams. Previously, Ron founded and sold his own company and has been on the founding team of multiple venture-backed companies.

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