A nice post on Quora by Ian McAllister of Amazon on how to think of product management, starting with the press release announcing launch and working backwards from there. I think it’s equally useful for articulating and defining your business idea. The core of the idea is that if you cannot write something compelling in a press release such that it would appeal to a customer, its perhaps not worth building (e.g., because it appeals to someone on the team from a technical perspective). Here is an excerpt:
“For new initiatives a product manager typically starts by writing an internal press release announcing the finished product. The target audience for the press release is the new/updated product’s customers, which can be retail customers or internal users of a tool or technology. Internal press releases are centered around the customer problem, how current solutions (internal or external) fail, and how the new product will blow away existing solutions.
If the benefits listed don’t sound very interesting or exciting to customers, then perhaps they’re not (and shouldn’t be built). Instead, the product manager should keep iterating on the press release until they’ve come up with benefits that actually sound like benefits. Iterating on a press release is a lot less expensive than iterating on the product itself (and quicker!).
Here’s an example outline for the press release:
- Heading – Name the product in a way the reader (i.e. your target customers) will understand.
- Sub-Heading – Describe who the market for the product is and what benefit they get. One sentence only underneath the title.
- Summary – Give a summary of the product and the benefit. Assume the reader will not read anything else so make this paragraph good.
- Problem – Describe the problem your product solves.
- Solution – Describe how your product elegantly solves the problem.
- Quote from You – A quote from a spokesperson in your company.
- How to Get Started – Describe how easy it is to get started.
- Customer Quote – Provide a quote from a hypothetical customer that describes how they experienced the benefit.
- Closing and Call to Action – Wrap it up and give pointers where the reader should go next.
….If they find they’re spending time building things that aren’t in the press release (overbuilding), they need to ask themselves why. This keeps product development focused on achieving the customer benefits and not building extraneous stuff that takes longer to build, takes resources to maintain, and doesn’t provide real customer benefit (at least not enough to warrant inclusion in the press release).”