There is a hidden strategy that we often find among the top performing product managers in technology intensive businesses. The strategy enables growth with limited R&D resources. The strategy is being used by the smartest Product Managers in the world.
But let me first ask you a few questions.
- Have you planned a sales increase for 2018?
- Does your manager want you to drive your product portfolio to success?
- Is your success based on R&D deliveries in your roadmap?
- Is your development on time and do you have reserve capacity for customer projects?
The equation doesn’t always work out. Most product managers in the tech world plan success based on R&D deliveries. But often we have limited resources, in fact one of the laws of product management is a “Your development team is never big enough” according to Rich Mironov.
Don’t worry. You can still make it happen. Use the proven strategy from companies like Virgin, Ericsson, Vendemore, IBM, ABB, Würth and others: REVITALIZE your product offer. A Revitalization strategy can make your product more relevant and be the best investment you have ever made.
As the market matures you need to reposition your product. As the ecosystem changes you need to refocus your marketing activities. As you build experiences in the market you need to rethink your marketing. All these activities are part of a strategy. Follow five steps for Product REVITALIZATION to make the Product Leap and to reach your 2018 sales budget.
5 steps for Product REVITALIZATION
The Revitalization strategy is one out of three major product strategies for mature products presented by Linda Gorchels in the Product Manager’s Handbook. Still very little research has been done in the field of Revitalization Strategy. Revitalization is suitable for a product where there is untapped market potential and where your product has a proven track record. The strategy is being used frequently in the FMCG - fast moving consumer goods - market. In the B2B industrial market it is used by the best and we have found it mainly to be driven by High Performing Product Managers.
New Product Manager often focuses on the next release and future products. Sometimes we hear complaints about companies not being innovative enough. The blame is often thrown at the R&D department. But High Performing Product Managers are not limited by the R&D to increase sales. High Performing Product Managers have an ability to increase sales by developing the product offer in other areas, without major development costs. But is this possible in the technology intensive world? It sure is. Let me share a five point strategy towards Product Revitalization.
- Re-invent UX
- Re- inforce
The market has changed since you launched your product. Usage has changed. New competitors have entered the market. The Ecosystem has matured. The strategy you had when starting the development must be challenged. Are you still relevant? Do you have the right position on the market? Is your pricing strategy correct? Are you focusing on the right segment? Are there other relevant segments? Challenge your strategic work you did when you planned and launched the product. Use the skills you have built in the marketplace. Identify the changes that have occurred.
Can you find new partners? Are there any other products we can bundle with? Are there any new sales channels available?
Business Modell Canvas, Value Tree, Driving Forces, Pricing Pyramid, Business Case
In most case we will need to Re-target the value proposition. In the research you have done under 1) you will have identified new market opportunities. Maybe there is a new business segment or new geographical market. Also, minor changes can be relevant with a persona update. When you have selected the market in which you’d like to revitalize your product in you will need to Re-define the Value proposition for the new market.
Segmentation model, Persona, Ecosystem analysis, Target application, Extended Ansoff matrix
RE-INVENT YOUR UX
The UX is not the UI. The UX is the complete customer interaction with your product from marketing to usage and services. Define all the touch point between yourself and the customer. Re-Invent the UX in these touch points. It can be new communication channels, product trainings, product specifications, faster service contacts etc. Some of the touch points will be very easy to improve while others demand fundamental changes. As always focus on low hanging fruit in your customer interactions.
Process design, Personas, Interaction design, Service Design
In the revitalization of a product offering the Relaunch is focused on Company readiness, Partner readiness and Ecosystem readiness. In normal product launches there is a big focus on the product readiness. In our situation the product already exists. The revitalization strategy includes only minor product updates. You will of course need to update the marketing and sales material. In many cases we need to develop new sales training and partner training. A relaunch can focus on a specific way of using the product. Then we will focus on “the job to be done” and not on the product. We might need to assist sales and marketing with identifying the relevant customer types for the relaunch and how we shall address them.
Launch Checklist, PMA (Product Material Analysis), Persona, Target Application
A relaunch resembles a change management process. We need to change processes, alter some attitudes and update skills. To succeed in change management programs, you always need reinforcement. To reinforce a repositioning of your product you will need some measurements. There is a need to create a scorecard on how well your team is doing and how to ensure that we change our ways of working with the product. The communication for a relaunch must not be limited to one sales conference but to a continuous communication and follow up.
Balanced Scorecard, KPI (Key Performance Indicator), MSC (Most Significant Change)
By addressing these five steps you can with limited R&D resources revitalize your product offer and increase sales directly. See also the blog on Product Leap strategies.
We have seen initiatives in the field that have failed. Great initiatives, good strategic think but poor execution. The most common failure modes for realizing a Revitalization strategy we have seen are:
FAILURE MODE 1
The relaunch is treated as a new design on the same product. Nothing has really been changed in the way you do things. Only a new color or package for the same service. This will not make a major change in the sales volume. You will need to do more to justify a re-launch like re-package, re-price, re-target your offer.
FAILURE MODE 2
Often there is a slide in the strategy, changing the direction from a Revitalization Strategy to a Product development strategy. A revitalization is not limited to introducing new features. It needs more than that. There are always many comments on the product features. “If we just had this feature we would get the big Telco customer.” “If we just could improve performance we would be able to enter the Chinese market.” That, is probably true, but there are many truths. You need to look for the clues that enables a Revitalization strategy.
FAILURE MODE 3
Not using your market experiences. The fantastic thing about a relaunch is that the product is already battle proven, the sales team has already sold a number of units, the market is aware of you as a supplier. You have references you have the skills. That is a fantastic starting point for a launch. We need to focus on our good experiences what have we done to achieve this? What skills have we built? What processes are in place? Don’t get stuck with problems - focus on the good part of your experience.
FAILURE MODE 4
Not using an outside in perspective. The Revitalization strategy is about being market focused. We need to look at the service from a client perspective. We shall not build a new product. The product already exists. Focus on the “job to done”.
FAILURE MODE 5
It is not an object in the roadmap. The relaunch deserves a place in the roadmap. It shall be a project visualized in the product plan. Often the relaunch is done with very limited visibility to the organization and then it will fail.
FAILURE MODE 6
Align, Align, Align. How can we fit the revitalization in a bigger scope? What strategic initiatives have been taken that we can connect the project with? How does it fit with our portfolio strategy?