We get a lot of interesting, visionary founders and entrepreneurs coming to ASquared with new and semi-formed ideas for a product, platform or mobile app.
While having that lightbulb 💡 moment of a great idea is crucial, the ability to summarise and articulate your idea to yourself and your audience is integral to its future success.
Below is a list of mini workshops and questions for you to ask; either to yourself or alongside your business partner(s). The 6 exercises are derived from various sources and organised to help you ask (and answer) what it is you want to do, who it’s for and why you’re doing it.
Completing this worksheet should give you a much better & clearer grasp of what you’re trying to achieve, which can only help you when you’re looking for partners, investors and potential customers for your great new product idea.
Interested in exploring your product idea? Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by: Jon Aizlewood, Design & Product Director
1. 👀 What is your product vision?
All great products have started with a strong, laser-focused vision; one that defines what your potential product will be, what it won’t be, and how you can easily communicate its unique value so it stands out amongst millions of other half-baked ideas.
Solid product visions start with the same core elements: Who you’re doing it for, what makes it different, and what benefits it will bring your customers or users.
Exercise 1. Fill in the blanks for your product vision
Copy the following onto a sheet of paper, replacing the examples in the blank spaces with your own answers. You might want to try this a few times until it feels right.
For _____(Your target customer)_______
Who _____(Statement of their need or the opportunity)________
The ______(Your product name) _______ is a ______(Product category)________
That ______(The key benefit or reason to buy)_______________.
Unlike ______(Your primary competitive alternative)_________,
Our product ______(A statement of primary differentiation)_________.
Source: Crossing the Chasm, Geoffrey A. Moore https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossing_the_Chasm
Exercise 2. For an alternative to the above, define your idea’s Onliness Statement
As above, copy the following onto a sheet of paper, replacing the examples in the blank spaces with your own answers. You might want to try this a few times until it feels right.
WHAT: ____Company category_____
HOW: ____Point of radical differentiation____
WHO: ____Segments of audience____
WHERE: ____Market geography____
WHEN: ____Underlying trend____.
In sentence form, once completed:
Our company is the only [what] that [how] for [who] in [where] who want[why] in an era of [when].
Source: The Onliness Statement, Marty Neumeier https://www.martyneumeier.com/the-onlyness-test
2. 🔎 Who are your users?
A product without a market can’t survive. Your product will need active, loyal users to become successful and make that leap from early adopters to mass appeal. Yet getting to that stage is no easy task; it requires your idea to solve a very specific, very real problem for a set of users that you can identify.
Exercise 3. Identify your target audience with a proto-persona
If you can, sketch out your proto-persona on a sheet of paper, and list the answers to the following sections next to them. This will help you gain a clearer understanding of a potential user of your product.
- Basic info: Give a name and basic demographic information to one of your users (age, gender, location)
- Behaviours: Identify and list the behaviours of the persona. What are they thinking? Saying? What are they seeing in the marketplace?
- Deeper demographics: Give more context to your persona. What do they do day-to-day? What’s their job, hobbies or interests? What’s their education level?
- Needs and pain points: What issues or dilemmas does your persona face? Why are they experiencing these challenges? What do they need to solve their challenges?
- Goals and outcomes: What does success look like for your persona? What are their goals, and what would make them happy?
- Current usage: What apps, products, services or platforms does your persona currently use; either to help them with their needs, or to assist them with their everyday work?
3. 🔮 Why are you doing this?
At TedX Puget Sound (USA), the author Simon Sinek first shared his idea of ‘Starting with Why’ and the Golden Circle. Since that video, Sinek’s simple question has resonated across industries, products and organisations as it (rightly) emphasised the need to know why you’re doing something rather than doing it simply because you can.
Products that have a great purpose often win out over products that are simply there to make money. Users and customers find it easier to align to a company or product that matches their own values and morals. That’s why being able to answer ‘why’ you are interested in your product or idea can go a long way to telling a strong, compelling story.
Exercise 4. Find your why
On a sheet of paper draw 3 concentric circles (like a target).
On the outermost circle, label it as ‘What’
In the middle circle, label is ‘How’
In the small inner circle, label it ‘Why’.
Using the information you’ve gained from the above exercises, list the following:
- What your product does and will do in the near future.
- How will you do it? What makes you different from your competition?
- Why do you do it? Why should your future customers care about your product? Why would you commit your next 5-20 years focusing solely on your product? Why would your future employees come to work everyday?
4. 🎯Who is your competition?
Unfortunately, your idea may not be 100% unique. But in truth, what idea really is? Every successful product, service, app or organisation out there is just a recombination of something that preceded it.
Doing your competitive due-diligence means scouring your potential and adjacent markets to see what’s already out there. This exercise can help you prove that your idea is unique, highlight what your idea could do better, or help you hone in on functionality or a USP (Unique Service Proposition) that doesn’t yet exist.
A fun way of thinking about your product idea is to ask yourself: What existing, well-known products or platforms is it most like? Is it like an AirBNB for Dogs? Or Twitter combined with Just Eat? What about Spotify for Whalesong?
Exercise 5. Perform a SWOT analysis of your potential product
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
Strengths are often internal factors that might give a competitive edge
Weaknesses are often internal factors that might prove to be a disadvantage.
Opportunities are often external factors are can benefit a product
Threats are often external factors that could prove detrimental to a product
- Take a piece of paper and draw a large plus (+) sign in the middle, creating 4 quadrants.
- Label each quadrant in the order above
- For each quadrant list at least 5 aspects of your product or idea
Exercise 6. List your competitors and compare them in another SWOT analysis
- List at least 5 competitors your potential product may have
- For all 5 competitors, apply them to the SWOT framework from the previous exercise, changing the angle from your product to their product. What can they do that you can’t do (yet)?
5. 📐What are you measuring?
Knowing what success looks like is integral to a successful business. Your product needs to show that it’s working in order to gain new customers or attract more investment.
Devised by Google, the HEART measurement framework is an easy-to-use matrix for measuring the success of your product or service.
The table below shows the HEART framework in action, alongside examples of each metric.
Exercise 7. Consider your product idea’s metrics. What will you measure, and why?
Make a copy of the HEART table above and consider your answers for each square.
Work through the entire table, starting with goals, and consider what you’d measure for your product and why:
Happiness: How would you measure your customers’ happiness?
Engagement: How might you measure engagement from your users?
Adoption: What metric highlights users adopting/using your product?
Retention: How will you track users continually using your product?
Task success: How will you know whether your customers are successfully using your product to make their lives better, easier, more fun, etc?
Source: Google Heart measurement framework https://research.google/pubs/pub36299/
6. ✅ Finally, how are you going to achieve this?
Up to now, your idea is still just an idea. Executing on an idea is where it can become a reality.
Give some serious consideration to your next steps.
Exercise 8. Try and answer these questions to the best of your ability
Get a sheet of paper and write the three headings below. Provide as many answers to each as you can.
What will it take to make your idea a reality?
- Consider your resources, contacts, networks, prior experience, skills and knowledge.
How will you fund your product or idea?
- Where you might find capital to make your idea a reality? Consider investment opportunities, friends and family, your own savings.
How might you make your idea come to life?
- What are your next steps, from here? This might include reading up on product design and development, contacting an agency to help, or starting yourself.
💬 Pssst… There are examples for all these exercises on this public Google Slides file.