By: Leanne Armstrong
In previous articles, we explored the importance of product strategy for market positioning and targeting the right audience. We also examined examples of common product strategy frameworks.
Now we’ll look at how you can apply all that knowledge and craft the perfect product strategy template.
To quickly recap, a product strategy is a high-level plan that helps support the success of your product by ensuring it accomplishes the following objectives:
- Delighting customers. A well-defined plan highlights who your product is intended for, how it will benefit them, and what sets it apart from similar offerings.
- Meeting established business goals. Your strategy should describe what your business stands to gain by developing your product and how you’ll measure its success.
- Differentiating from competitors. A thorough strategy includes a list of tasks and projects for identifying the right target market and successfully positioning your product to differentiate it from competitors.
For example, if you plan to develop a brand-new food inventory app that complements an existing solution you offer by saving restaurant owners time and reducing ordering errors, your business goals might be expanding your customer base and increasing your overall sales.
No matter what the long-term goal is for your product, laying it out clearly with the help of a visual map is the key to crafting the perfect product- strategy template.
What is a product strategy template?
A product strategy template is a diagram or flowchart that helps you and your team visualize what you’ll need to accomplish to position, promote, and launch your new product successfully.
The ability to visualize the plan together and collaborate is key. According to Gartner®, 78% of managers who view internal collaboration as integral to their role experience low product failure rates.
The project and strategy maps built into a visual planning tool like MindManager® make it easy to collaborate on projects and organize almost any product plan by:
- Allowing everyone on your team to easily view your main goals.
- Showing how all tasks and objectives relate to one other.
- Letting you check off milestones as they’re accomplished.
Once your product strategy outline is complete, you’ll be able to read, edit, and revise it if new requirements become necessary or other events that affect your project plan occur.
To streamline your plan creation, however, it’s often a good idea to work from top to bottom—starting with your product details and objectives, and ending with any marketing, budgeting, or brainstorming tasks you’ll need to accomplish.
What are 3 key elements to include in your product strategy template?
The specifics of your template will vary depending on the nature of your product, who you’re selling it to, and the sales or marketing angle(s) you’re planning to take. That said, most product strategy outlines share three common elements:
- A defined product vision.
- A list of product goals.
- A product marketing approach.
1. Your product vision
The first section of your template should define the overall vision you have for your product. One way to accomplish this is by creating a satellite-style diagram or strategy map.
For example, you might start your map by labeling a central node with the name of your product (e.g., Vision for Widget X), and then add key nodes that branch out in a circle around it.
This provides a space where you can document the reasoning behind developing your product, such as any research you conduct that support its projected success.
The supporting nodes you create should contain key elements, including:
- Customer problem. Explain the pain points your product will address and how it will help solve a common user- problem (e.g., too many manual data entry mistakes), meet an unanswered need (e.g., a unique application that isn’t currently available), or provide an attractive advantage (e.g., time or cost savings).
- Product solution. Describe how your product will help the people who buy, use, or subscribe to it by connecting the customer problem you’ve identified to the specific solution your product provides.For example, this could be the creation of a new product feature that helps reduce certain business process errors, or development of a pared down, more cost-effective version of your existing product.
- Development roadmap. Your plan should also include an outline for product updates and future iterations. This plan––which is often created in the form of a product development roadmap—should include details about enhanced versions, advanced features, and/or additional services over time.
- Target market. Detail the specific group of customers your product is aimed at. You might use buyer personas, for example, to illustrate your ideal customer by including demographic data, career or job position, budget, buying behavior, and geographical location.
- Competition. Outline who your main competitors are and what they look like. This should cover similar products competitors offer, what their pricing strategies are, what customer segments use these products, customer reviews of the products, and how successful these competitors currently are.This will help highlight the competitive hurdles you need to overcome, plus any gaps in features, marketing strategy, etc. that you may be able to leverage.
- Value proposition. Create a defining statement that summarizes why your ideal customer would choose to buy your product or use your service over that of a competitor’s offering.Since your value proposition will eventually serve as the core of your marketing message, your statement should also outline the competitive advantages you’re planning to use to position your product in the market.
For each node in the vision section of your template, you should lay out your thoughts and conclusions in clear lists, and then link directly to any relevant research stored in external files, documents, emails, or website screen shots.
2. Your product goals
The next section of your template should lay out how you expect your business to benefit from developing and selling your product, and the methods you’ll use to measure your success.
To shape this section, you could extend a branch line from the main node you created in the vision section of your map to two new nodes, labeled “Widget X Short-Term Business Goals” and “Widget X Long-Term Business Goals,” for example. This will allow you to visually connect the success of your individual product to the overall success of your business.
Short-term business goals are the initial or immediate objectives your business plans to achieve by bringing your product to market. Examples of short-term goals include increasing customer leads by a certain percentage or becoming a top-rated widget across a certain third-party review website within a defined timeframe.
Long-term business goals are the goals your business plans to meet continuously or incrementally. Examples include regularly increasing your annual sales revenue each year or capturing market share in a different geographic region with each new product- version launched.
To be actionable and measurable, your short- and long-range goals should both be time -sensitive (e.g., generating a set amount of product inquiries within the first six months) and readily comparable with a pre-existing company baseline or industry standard.
Make sure each goal you list is also accompanied by a description of the performance analytics or data metrics you plan to use to measure your progress, along with the figures or results that will indicate success.
3. Your product approach
The final section of your template should flesh out the planned marketing initiatives and positioning angle you are taking to generate product awareness and demand—and ultimately accomplish your business goals.
To shape this section of your product strategy template, you might extend branch lines from the short- and long-term nodes you created in the goals section to specific activities, which you’ll describe under a new node labeled “Widget X Marketing Plan,” for example.
For a more comprehensive product- strategy outline, you can break these activities down further into individual tasks and milestones.
The activity-based nodes nested under your main node should address key marketing approach elements including:
- Communication strategy. Detail the marketing communication channels and tools you’ll use to reach the customer segment you’ve targeted (e.g., you might plan to create direct mail materials aimed at offline businesses or less tech-savvy entrepreneurs).
- Revenue streams. Outline the different ways you intend to earn income from your product. For instance, you might plan to offer your product as both a one-time purchase and as part of a subscription access plan.Depending on your product vision, expected revenue could be based on sales as well as on any future improvements, upgrades, or additional features.
- Production requirements. List the various components, raw materials, suppliers, manufacturers, or third-party service providers you’ll need to source or partner with to develop your new product or improve an existing one.
- Cost structure. Use cost projections to break down the expenses involved in developing and marketing your product. Rather than creating a single budget, you can improve your risk- management efforts by assembling multiple financial breakdowns based on best- and worst-case scenarios.
One of the biggest advantages of creating a visual product strategy template is that by centralizing all essential moving parts, your team can quickly and easily view what needs to be accomplished so critical tasks don’t get overlooked or fall through the cracks.
MindManager makes it simple to collaborate on multiple types of product development strategies and projects by enabling users to create and share user-friendly, integrated maps, diagrams, and templates in real time, no matter where other team members are located.