Many of the world’s largest, most admired and most successful companies (like Apple, Amazon and Google) are now Product-led or Product-centric. But while we have many famous, valuable and useful Product discovery and development frameworks (like those from Teresa Torres, Marty Cagan and Roman Pichler) we have fewer tools that help us monitor and grow our Product when it’s in the market. This is despite Products only recouping their initial investment later in life, usually in the growth and maturity phases.
To redress our focus on the Product’s lifecycle beyond development, we have reimagined McCarthy’s 4Ps of Marketing and created the 7 Ps of Product.
What is the 7 Ps of Product?
The 7 Ps of Product is a comprehensive framework enabling Product Managers to work beyond Product Development to ensure they get traction and the desired results. The 7Ps of Product offers the Product Manager the opportunity to lift their focus from feature delivery and climb ‘the Product Management ladder’ to a higher point where they have a broader business perspective.
The 7 Ps of Product combines internal and external factors to highlight the key focus areas that drive Product growth and build better outcomes for the organisation.
By now, great Product Managers know that the only way to create a Product that customers want to buy is to solve a painful problem for them. Despite this, we often don’t spend sufficient time diagnosing, documenting and communicating customer problems. We are enamoured by our own solutions and often pay lip service to customer. We invest resources on technical design and feasibility, yet jump to conclusions about the customer problem we’re solving.
Sometimes, we’re overwhelmed by the number of customer problems and don’t quite know which ones to solve. Faced with this challenge, we should consider that there are many different connected layers to a customer problem. Some customer problems represent an untapped opportunity to deliver value to a market segment that can’t achieve its goal. There could be a sticking point or a void. At the other end of this spectrum are continuous improvements to a Product’s functionality, functionality which enables the customer to take incremental steps towards achieving their goal.
We need to know which problem layer we’re approaching and therefore solving.
Simon Sinek says having a ‘why’ is akin to having a compass or a map. For a Product, a compass is worth its weight in gold. It tells us when we’ve reached our destination and helps us navigate our path to get there. It shows our customers where we’re heading and instructs our teams on where to go.
These days, with the world and society in flux and facing new adversities, the Product’s ‘why’, its purpose or reason for being, is imperative. If your Product doesn’t have a clearly articulated ‘why’ your chances of gaining traction and success in a crowded market are enormously more difficult.
Historically, Product positioning was solely a marketers’ game, but those days are past. Today, Product Positioning is an inherent part of both the Product and Marketing strategy. It helps buyers and users understand where the Product ‘fits’ in the market and how it compares with competing Products. From a buyer perspective, positioning helps the buyer decide how the Product will best serve his or her individual, company or family needs. From a user perspective, positioning helps the user determine if they should keep using the Product.
Product positioning starts with a simple concept. It starts with the target market. The target market must be described clearly – it’s not “everyone”. If you think it is, you’re likely heading for Product failure. Be specific about who your Product appeals to – even if specificity means that the market you initially approach is small.
How do you know if all of your planning, development and investment is worth it? Accurately measuring performance. From the moment that we start testing ideas, through to the launch and ultimate decline of a Product, Product Management seeks to optimise the performance of the Product for both the customer and the organisation.
To measure Product Performance we need to identify the metrics and signals that are most relevant to the lifecycle stage that the Product is at. The metrics we need to steer our Products largely depend on the Product, but metrics should incorporate both financial as well as relevant product analytics.
Price conveys a very important story. Customers tend to form a strong opinion of the Product, based on its price, before they’ve had an opportunity to engage with or consume the Product. It tells the market whether the Product is “high-quality”, “mass-market”, “niche”, “elitist” and so on.
Price is also a deliberate expression of value and it determines if customers see sufficient utilitarian and emotional benefits in the Product to make an exchange.
You may be wondering why Price is included in the 7Ps when Product Managers rarely have an opportunity to participate in pricing decisions. But, given that pricing is an important component driving market demand, and therefore Product and organisational success, Product Managers SHOULD be involved in these discussions. If Product Managers are involved in pricing it makes it more likely that the Product is priced correctly, is profitable and successful.
Many people claim that great Products don’t need promoting. Product experts even say good Products promote themselves. They’re wrong. Good products DO have promotional mechanisms. People who think they don’t usually have a narrow view of what they consider a promotion.
Promotions are broad. Promotions can be traditional marketing activities like advertising, or PR or less traditional marketing like nurturing a whole community to spruik your Product. But promotions can also lie outside marketing.
Good Products have internal subtle cues that show the user that they are missing out on a better version of the Product or on additional features. Great Products that are designed for growth have inbuilt mechanisms that encourage or reward users to share the Product with others. This is where Product promotions differ from marketing promotions.
A well-functioning Product Team is a key ingredient of successful Products. Yet we underinvest in our people. We underinvest in hiring well, developing and nurturing our people and their work practices. But good Product practices, with a focus on adaptive skills, rituals, tools and techniques should be seen as a competitive advantage, not a nuisance.
Another area that we often overlook is creating a Product Operating Model for the team to work within. The model should cover core focus areas to enable the team to discover, design and deliver Product improvements, new features and new Products. It should include tools, templates and of course working principles that guide team behaviour. At Brainmates our Product Management Framework encapsulates a series of steps that enable Product Teams to systematically perform tasks to identify and deliver Products that are desired by customers, viable for the business and technically feasible.
Bringing the 7 Ps to life
Each P does not stand alone. They are intrinsically linked. When you start with one of the Ps, you’ll no doubt touch on some of the others as well. Markets are constantly evolving, customers demand more, technology advances expeditiously, and as Product Managers, we need to safeguard our Products from potential threats. We need to anticipate, and then decipher real risks from the cacophonous noise.
Yup, it is no easy feat. No wonder we’re super!
The 7Ps of Product offers Product Managers a new lens, an additional framework to exploit different Product levers to help them achieve their goals and their organisation’s goals. And as we know, in many lurking “start-up, scale-up and corporate spreadsheets”, the goal is to deliver exponential revenue growth and perhaps even disrupt an industry.