As a product professional, your company is looking to you to meaningfully change the bottom line. But are you getting the results you want? Or are you putting in countless hours only to feel like you’re not making enough progress? If you want to seriously develop a product growth competency, how do you ensure success instead of just haphazardly launching new products and features? In this ProductTank Toronto talk, Sylvia Ng shares her eight-step framework for product growth developed from being part of teams at Google, eBay, and 500px to show you how to meaningfully scale your company.
Growth should be a mindset. A growth mindset is a mindset of learning, experimentation, iteration, failing fast, looking at the full funnel, and leveraging data in decision making. However, this string of words can be easily misinterpreted. Being flexible and failing fast could easily mean “chase the next silver bullet”, the idea of “let me try something and see what sticks” leads to a tangle of experiments, and “let me run a few programs and I’ll figure it out” often means a lack of goal setting and a lack of understanding of what works. Worse yet, over time you’ll have to put in more and more effort to manage the tangle of programs, which can burn out you and your team. So how do you build growth in a sustainable and predictable way?
Here’s a breakdown, in eight high-level steps, of how you can approach the solution by putting more structure and process into how you think about growth:
1. Stage Your Company
Know what stage your company is at; whether you’re trying to launch your first MVP, trying to get product/market fit, trying to get product/channel fit, or trying to scale beyond that (you’d be surprised how many people don’t know).
2. Know Your Strategic Goal
Are you going after users and engagement, monetization, or profitability?
3. Model the Funnel
Get dirty with your data and map out your user journey with conversion rates. Segment as much as you can (new vs existing users, different lines of business, etc), look at CAC, MRR, LTV and so on, and from there identify what opportunities lie before you.
4. Define Your North Star Metric
Set your company’s north star goal, ideally something that quantifies the magic moment when your users’ experience your product’s core value and are hooked for life. Your data from the previous step should help you here, hopefully whatever you pick is highly correlated with long-term customer retention.
5. Create a Prioritization Grid
From the previous steps you should know your goals and opportunities, so place all the opportunities into a prioritization grid and start prioritizing ruthlessly. Have each row in the grid as an opportunity, then in the columns rate each opportunity in terms of cost, time to market, resourcing required, and whatever other criteria your team deems important. The hardest part of this is getting the team to align on the criteria and importance of each opportunity, but it’s well worth the effort.
6. Set Targets
Take the top few opportunities in your prioritization grid that you want to address in the near term, and set yourself some targets. Targets are important for you to track progress but more importantly they motivate your team and allow you to get a sense of what your team is capable of. You want targets that are bold and challenging, but not so far out there that they’re unachievable and demoralizing.
7. Work on Execution
Create an execution process that makes sense for what you’re trying to tackle; define sprints and stand-ups, determine how often you review your prioritization grid, set up different streams for optimizations vs larger creative launches, tie goals with performance reviews, celebrate wins on a regular cadence, etc. Sylvia is a big fan of OKRs and recommends you take a look at implementing them if you don’t already use them.
8. Develop a Multidisciplinary Team
Create a minimum viable team that functionally contains product, engineering, design, data, and marketing (it doesn’t have to be five separate people, you can collapse or expand as you require).
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