I recently read Relationship Marketing by the famous Silicon Valley marketing guru Regis McKenna. While the examples and stories from the book were [extremely] dated, there was still a great amount of value in the stories of basic business common sense on how to design your company to be focused on your customers. One of my favorite parts included a list of what makes products successful.
Regis made this list based on companies he had either invested in, worked with, or served on the board for. So it’s a list written from an internal perspective on how companies decided to build products.
1. Appeal to new markets or an expansion of existing market to bring in thousands of new potential customers. In other words, you aren’t just fighting for market share. You are creating a larger pie.
2. Rather than being new inventions, they are assemblages of interrelated technologies. Creators take advantage of existing technology and combining them into a unique package. “Product innovators are students of the market and the technology.”
3. Dependent on other newly developed technologies and market infrastructure. Having partners, platforms, consultants, vendors, buyers in an existing, connected ecosystem gives products a greater chance of success.
4. Time it right. Having one eye on cutting edge technology and one eye on the market is the way to spot opportunity to capitalize with a new product.
5. Products are adapted to market requirements, and then keep moving. As the first version comes out, it is important to make changes rapidly and keep moving with the market demands.
6. Successful products are developed by small teams. This added sense of purpose is visible in the products they create.
7. Key customers play a role in the design of the products.
8. The first users will determine success or failure of a new product.
9. Truly revolutionary products will create new jargon, new language. Tweet me. Google it. Uber home.
10. Successful products are used in educational programs, seminars, user groups, meetups as examples of a way to do something better.
I enjoyed reading the perspective of a technology guy in the early 90’s and finding where there are lessons from the microprocessor and early PC market that can be applied to the awesome startup land we operate in today.