Growth Hacking versus Product Vision
There’s something about the relationship between Growth Hacking and Product Vision that has been percolating in my mind, and I’m trying to put my finger on it.
I see startups that are obsessed with growth hacking to the point where they think it’s going to lead them to the product roadmap.
And I see startups that have a great product vision, but they keep adding features and capabilities without worrying about solid user traction.
Neither approach is ideal on its own; but the combination works well.
In the first case, the tail is wagging the dog. Your growth hacking may tell you what features are getting more engagement than others, but if you are just testing features, it’s like throwing darts on the wall, and forgetting you can have a solid arrow instead, with all the wood behind it.
In the second case, the wheels will eventually come off. Product vision delivery will get weakened if it’s not supported by solid user traction, engagement and repeat behavior. This means you may miss the Product/Market fit phase because you would have skirted around it.
Growth hacking alone cannot lead you to a product vision, but it can lead you to maximizing your product/market fit, if you already have a great product vision. They work together.
That’s why I’m interviewing Ben Yoskovitz and Jason Moore together, at the next fireside chat I’m organizing, October 21st 2014 at OneEleven.
Ben Yoskovitz (left) is an entrepreneur with a product management orientation, and he is the co-author of Lean Analytics, a widely read book on metrics for lean startups. Ben is currently VP Product, VarageSale, and was previously VP Product at GoInstant (acquired by Salesforce). Ben is also an active angel investor.
Jason Moore (right) is also an entrepreneur. He is the CEO and co-founder of Videostream, a Waterloo-based startup that is redefining how you watch streamed videos on your TV. Jason and his 3 co-founders were the first Canadian team to win the Startup Weekend competition in 2012, and went on to form a startup together, and were accepted at Hyperdrive, Communitech’s accelerator.
What Ben and Jason have in common is they are both leading product vision and delivery for their respective companies, and they are both Mobile App centric products. Ben’s orientation is slightly more tilted towards product and lean metrics, whereas Jason’s is an expert on growth hacking and measuring user engagement.
I am looking forward to exploring the overall relationships between product roadmap, product vision, lean analytics, growth hacking with Ben and Jason. Having both of them together means that we’ll able dive into these topics from two different points and experience angles, but also holistically covering how you can do both Growth Hacking and Product Vision well, together.
For more information about this event, please visit the Eventbrite link above, or register below:
@William – I just wish I could be in Ontario for this unfortunately its a bust.
Just to encourage other young startups:
We fell in love with our technical capability (product vision) and we still hold that in the long term the market for our “smarter” services should win out.
Meanwhile we spent four years (yes bootstrapping – our vision was crystal !) trying to push our vision down the throats of major utility companies.
In desperation six months ago we started asking what features could we offer that clients are just “gagging for” (english – “want a lot”). Our next face-to-face meetings with major european utilities resulted in immediate paid trials. We had some things they wanted we could deliver by API ! (Without the baggage of an entire product – they want to pick the cherries from your capabilities)
So we spent a long time “being right” so it took a long time to start “being successful”. My bias says we came from the “right” end of the spectrum and that hacking with no vision/ value insight is pointless, but my brain tells me I am never objective.
Anyone who can attend this should – It might save you a lot of wasted time (especially if you are “do or die” committed – which you should be) !
Wow, that’s a great testimony that supports the merits of achieving that right balance. You are fortunate to have been able to sustain yourself that long, and that’s a good thing. Sometimes you are a bit early for the market, but even then you should dial back your (dogmatic) vision to make it lock steps with what the customers will take now. Then, you gradually take them forward with you.
Customers buy into a vision only if they understand it & believe in it when you are selling it to them.
William arguably we are “less fortunate because we were able to sustain ourselves” !!! – time will tell 🙂 However:
>>Customers buy into a vision only if they understand it & believe in it when you are selling it to them.
To be a little cynical – in B2B markets you generally sell to employees who professionally want, but may not “personally” want what your product does. This calls for something like the hypocratic oath “first do no harm” (to the person)
Benefits are interesting once it is clear they are accompanied by reduced risk, low personal effort, low/no capital outlay, and no extensive need for work-flow/ legal / compliance re-organisation (or generally political implications with other internal stakeholders).
So in my mind an ideal B2B sales proposition has three feature tiers:
1) “An acceptance platform” – ideally a productivity tool on a subscription basis, that can “fit” existing work-flows – (productivity must not threaten internal workloads) – This is all “nice to have”
2) – On top of that “acceptance platform” it is easier to offer (optional ) vision or change functionalities eg new end-client benefits, smarter ways of working (BI), etc (they can be tested after initial purchase and on-boarding – so are more like an upsell)
3) Finally for a real benefit help meet enterprise strategic issues:
– compliance issues (eg necessary reporting) because they wield a mighty hammer in the enterprise and have almost unlimited budget attached
– competitive advantage, client retention (who doesn’t want to make their whole enterprise look and perform better than the rest) – but why?: motive may not be for the shareholders (even if it is “sold” that way) – it serves promotion or an easier life !
TL;DR in B2B an MVP must have an easy adoption concept, that aligns corporate and buyer objectives – Vision comes later !
Yup, B2B selling is more complicated than consumer, for sure. You understand your market and customers well!