Developing a product that creates a "real" value is usually very hard.
Without having a proper vision in a product`s life is even harder.
The cost of learning your product`s value generation by developing it is too high. Therefore, the vision board helps you to create a canvas that pushes you to answer critical questions and runs a self-evaluation process of your product before starting actually developing it. Nevertheless, You may use a vision board once and once again, when you want to pivot your product after you developed or even went to/in the market.
Caution! VB is a very dynamic approach, so it must be updated and upgraded periodically. Because of market, needs, size, technology, values and other parameters. So, your VB requires you to take that influences into account.
So, what is the Vision Board?
Vision board is simply visualization of a product journey from an idea to the market via product strategy.
Vision plays an important and impactful role in your project to set needs, target audience, feature list that covers the needs, goals & targets, competitors, differentiation of your solution and even possible bottlenecks.
What preparations do we need to do before the Vision Board?
Caution! Before starting a vision board, you need to do your homework!
You need to dig into deep research to look at the market and answer such questions;
- Who is the target group that you want to create a solution for? *
- Did you validate the problem? The problem that you are solving (assuming to solve), validate it via customer discovery, and make sure that it is really a problem!
- Did you validate your solution by your target group? Did you have a talk with them via meetings, calls, surveys?
- What are you aiming your customers & you to achieve with your product? What are the average metrics in the current situation without your product?
- How much improvement your product will bring to your customer metrics? How your product will be beneficial to your partners? Make sure these goals are quantitive so that you can measure the goals.
- How is the competition in the market? Are there any competitors? if so, who are they? how do they solve the problem you define?
- What are the bottlenecks did your competitors faced with? What problems, bottlenecks or challenges are you assuming that you will face?
- What differentiators do you have in the feature or product level? Can you turn a bottleneck of your competitor as a differentiator of your product?
Once you feel that you did your homework, you can start filling the vision on aboard. We will come back to this topic, and we will step by step fill it together.
But, Before you start your own Product Vision Board; I would like to mention why Vision Board Tweaks will full-fill all the requirements you need;
First, I`d like to remind you, one of the most famous Product Vision & Canvas Boards in digital product history by Roman Pichler;
These 2 boards were aiming to set needs & clarify/find out the possible solutions for the target groups to hit the business goals.
Besides those 2 amazing boards; Geoffry Moore published an awesome template as well— something like a summarized version of Roman`s boards and called it — Product Vision Template. Here is a new term added on a vision which is the Main Difference of a product. The main difference of a product itself, and not necessarily a component.
But still, something was missing in those boards and templates…
The missing part is that since time is changing, product development needs are also changing!
2005 was different from 2010 and obviously, 2019 will be way more different than 2025 in terms of product development, the quantity of products/solutions in the market, competition and of course technologies.
Worldwide 1.78M tech startups each year launching. Source — Global Entrepreneurship Monitor
Annually — 1,78M new tech startups(!) That means, nowadays, one problem or a need has hundreds of different solutions in the market already. To be "totally unique", this is getting incredibly harder. Therefore, your product must have a differentiation on each layer on its development, and your strategy must be accordingly in order to penetrate and survive in the market.
Does it mean that we shouldn`t try to enter the market?
The answer is: Of course no! you need to push your product into the market but in a smart way.
Keep in mind! You can provide the same features which don`t make your product totally unique, but still it can be smarter, faster, cheaper… on its own way. To have this differentiated layers, you will need to innovate. Most of the time innovations come with the bottlenecks. Those bottlenecks can be your or your competitors weak side, or the opportunity area.
On top of that, internet traffic is rising too, so is the user data. Handling your product within huge data flow in different platforms, regions, languages … is getting an issue too.
and finally — i believe, if you can give a solution via your product with smart differentiations while eliminating the bottlenecks, then you already hit the goals and succeed.
Because of all these reasons which I have mentioned above and in order to fit my requirements as a product manager, I merged all boards into one and added 2 more critical columns regarding Today`s Product Needs. Which are feature/component-based;
- Possible Differentiations
- Challenges & Bottlenecks
As I slightly mentioned earlier, feature base solution for the need can be the same, but keep in mind that, in every feature that your competitor has, also can be challenging for you, as well as the differentiated and vise-versa. What I mean that; a feature you want to provide for a solution, you can see that your competitor is also providing to the customers, but still you can touch on a feature on an innovative way which can be possible differentiation for you, but on the other hand, it can create possible challenges for your product and you.
Caution! The optimum balance between; need — solution — challenge — differentiation is reflecting and setting the real value of your product.
I think it is enough to tell about the history of VB, :)
we can jump into the steps of it!
So, What are the Initialization Points of a VB?
We need to start answering two important questions to begin.
A. What is your motivation for creating the product?
Motivation can differ from product to product but always data-backed. It could aim to be the biggest charity platform in Miami that helps to only homeless people, so that I want to decrease the homeless rate to 1% in the region, or it could be I am building this product which targets to lock-in my customers, so that churn-ing from my service won`t last less than 6 months.
B. Which positive changes should your product bring about?
It's an answer to a question that — how is your product going to help your customers. This could be an increased conversion rate in homepage via first-time visitors at least 20% in an innovative way or easy adjustment of a website homepage so that decreasing dependency on additional development resources by 50%. So the main thing here is the answer must be clear, understandable and to the point.
What are the Components of a Vision Board?
There are 7 main and important components, and those are;
1. Target Market / Group :
Here is the main question is — WHO?
Which market or group does your product addresses?
Who are the target customers and users? (For whom you are creating the solution?)
Target Market and Group differ from your business type (B2B / B2C ..), but besides that, the technics commonly are the same.
This market research study is undertaken to understand the key features of the product to be launched –
• The lifespan of the product
• The raw materials required to make the end product
• The end result of the finished product
• The prospective section of consumers for whom the product is to be launched
The study about the demographic details helps gain insight into the specific group of consumers who are likely to buy the product. This market study involves gathering details pertaining to –
• The gender of the consumer
• The age group under which the consumer falls
• The educational background of the consumers and the income category under which they come
• Business size (SMBs or Enterprises)
- Target audience
This study involves gaining specific details about prospects such as –
• How does the target audience spend their leisure hours
• What is their income
• The place where the target customers reside
• The books they like to read
• The movies they like to watch
• The music they love to hear
• The values of their life and their religious beliefs
- Competitive Analysis
The best way to determine the market for your product is by doing a competitive analysis including –
• Comparison with other products of similar nature
• Market share and brand value of the competing products
• Pricing and other benefits to the customers
• Positive and negative features of the competing products
• Get an idea about the target market for your product
Here is the main question — WHAT?
What problem does the product solve?
Which benefit does it provide to your target group?
Capturing customer needs is not easy.
But it's very critical to define it correctly, otherwise, you can answer (solve) a question (problem) which nobody was asking.
Steve Jobs said:
You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You cannot start with the technology and try to figure out where you are going to sell it.
Effective customer needs analysis is dependent on two factors:
- Knowing what customer inputs are needed to create improved and breakthrough products,
- Knowing how to capture them. Much has been written about customer needs analysis and the importance of understanding the customer. Companies spend considerable time and money towards this end. Yet, companies rarely know all their customer’s needs.
Here is why: success in innovation doesn’t come from understanding the customer. It comes from a deep understanding of the job the customer is trying to get done. After all, it is the desire to get a job done that causes customers to buy a product or service in the first place.
This means that customer needs analysis must focus on the job the customer is trying to get done.
Here is the main question — HOW?
What is the feature that solves or covers that need?
What makes it stand out?
Your feature list is actually a solution list for customer needs. This is a starting point of answering (featuring) the questions (problems) via your product.
You must pick the solution in a smart way so that you need to be sure that you really cover the needs of the customer, partner or the person whoever you are solving the problem.
Avoid feature creep (!)
The most common cause of feature creep is the desire to provide the consumer with a more useful or desirable product, in order to increase sales or distribution. However, once the product reaches the point at which it does everything that it is designed to do, the Product Owner is left with the choice of adding unneeded functions, sometimes at the cost of efficiency, or sticking with the old version, at the cost of a perceived lack of improvement.
Attention! Because the ever-growing, ever-expanding addition of new features might exceed available resources, a minimal core “basic” version (MVP) of a product can be maintained separately, to ensure operation in smaller operating environments. Using the “80/20 Rule” the more basic product variations might support the needs of about “80%” of the users, so they would not be subjected to the complexity (or extra expense) of features requested by the other 20% of users. The extra features are still available, but they have not crept into all versions of the products. You can read more about 80/20 rule here.
How is the product going to benefit the company?
What are the business goals & KPIs?
Everything happens for a reason! But sometimes, i wish i knew what the reason was!
When you are creating a solution, providing a service, establishing a product,.. you need to have measurable goals. Solutions that you are creating should be based on reasons. (as I mentioned in the features column..)
For example, If you are creating a conversion rate optimizer feature, then set a certain goal as KPI. Tell that, I aim to increase the conversion rate by at least 10% via X feature.
Setting a goal without measuring them is meaningless. Therefore, whenever you are setting the goals, you need to think about how are you going to measure those improvements as well.
Always ask yourself! Does it require additional cost to measure these metrics? When and How will I implement those monitoring and measuring systems?
When you have achievable, challenging, measurable goals, then you are good to go for the next steps.
Who else has this feature or product?
Which competitors are primary and which ones can be beaten by your product?
Solution pool, market, enemies, inspiration…
You can call it however you want.
Competition is not the bad thing, it actually corrects and drives you to the right path, and if you read them very well, it won`t allow you to go the wrong way.
You need to look into the market very deeply for who else is providing the solution to the problems that you are trying to solve.
Most of the times you will be surprised, that solutions (which you have created probably 5 minutes ago) are already there in the market and they are working properly.
You will need to categorize your competitors not only by feature but also according to their potentials in your target market such as indirect, direct, replacement, potential and future.
You are in the war in the market, so you will need to have a solid battle card against your competitors. Battlecard should have all the parts of competition zones. Starting from the feature list, and must continue with company size, target audience, development style, etc.
If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear theresult of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you knowneither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle
6. Possible Differentiations:
What makes your feature unique?
What makes your product unique or strong?
Differentiation! You will hear this a lot in your product journey. Your customers are almost sick from the thousands of offers that gives solution providers like you.
That is why they ask the most common and legit question — what makes your product different? If you don't have a proper answer to this question, you will begin the battle with lots of minuses.
It’s not obligatory to have a differentiation for all features. This could be better customer service, the same feature solution which works faster, or even the technology that you use to build it up.
Whatever the differentiation is, you need to highlight at the very beginning of your product and you need to be sure that, this differentiation point lets you penetrate the market from the beginning.
Look at the competitor`s weak points, see if you have muscles to beat them within your product. Turning their weaknesses (bottlenecks and challenges) into your powerful unique side.
Pay attention to what clients are focusing on, and give a different approach to those zones.
7. Challenges & Bottlenecks:
What would be hard to make or our weak points?
Which bottlenecks we can face on the way?
Before you start your journey simulate the road. Understanding of `what is ahead` is the key to success.
Try to look at your product from different angles. Starting from resources you have, the technology that you choose, the market you focus, the solution that you provide, the speed, support to work-flow you set, even the methodology you select to develop.
Keep in mind that anything can be quite challenging. For example, you would choose a technology that you can build your product, but there are very few resources that you can hire in your area so that whenever you want to scale up your team, you will have difficulties.
Time is also an important point in this section! How long time it requires to cover-up your product`s bottlenecks. Sometimes, you as a product manager would accept the challenge while knowing the bottlenecks, because you knew how and how long you would cover it up.
Do not forget, your product weaknesses (challenges and bottlenecks) can be a differentiation for your competitors.
Know your bottlenecks and challenges, but do not limit them!
Your product does not grow when things are easy. Your product grows when it faces challenges. So, do not limit challenges, challenge your limits!
As for my final thoughts;
Great product managers are great innovators. So, in order to innovate, you need to have a logical structure that can open your third eye.
Innovation is not the product of logical thought, even though the final product is tied to a logical structure. says Einstein!