Product Discovery: 5-Point Checklist for Agile Teams (2021)

Knowing exactly what your customers want is a great way to create an effective, and profitable product.

But getting into the customers frame of mind can often present its own challenges. That is where product discovery comes in.

So what is product discovery? And how does it help you to gain a better understanding of your customers?

What is product discovery?

Product discovery is the process of understanding your customers, so that you can offer them a product that meets their needs.

Product discovery plays an integral role in deciding the most essential features of products and services, whilst also deciding which features or products to prioritize over others, depending on the customers wants and needs.

Due to the constantly ongoing process that is product discovery, even current successful products can be altered and adjusted, to further their ability to provide customer satisfaction.

Where can I implement product discovery?

Product discovery can be implemented in pretty much any online business that sells a service/product.

It is a great way to find untapped markets in various sectors, which makes it versatile across industries and selling platforms, from Amazon, to channels such as Google Shopping.

You may even find that certain products are better to sell on certain channels than others, giving you a huge advantage over any competitor who is failing to utilize that channel.

Why is product discovery important?

Product discovery is clearly significant when it comes to offering something to your customers that they will appreciate.

By using product discovery, brands can go beyond simply guessing what features might be nice for customers to have, and actively learn their wants and needs.

The process of product discovery also ensures that the product team spends their resources wisely.

Each new product features costs, so ensuring the more effective and profitable features are added is in the best interest of everyone involved.

A 5-Point Checklist for Optimal Product Discovery

Product discovery is the key to creating products with features loved by your customers.

These tactics will help you to discover what is important to your customers, and how to implement those ideas.

1. Spend time gaining an understanding of your target audience

Understanding your audience is an integral part of product discovery.

If we want to create effective, problem solving products, or features for products, we have to empathise with our customer base.

By this we mean understanding their needs, wants and even what they hope to achieve from the product.

It is also important to know what works for the majority of your customers, so that you don’t go changing something many are content with, for something worse.

In addition to understanding customers, it is also important to ensure that those we are building empathy for come from a range of demographics.

Otherwise, you may create a biased and non-representative sample which could prevent you from earning their trust.

To better understand your audience, you should try to be specific. Take someone who is your ideal target customer and learn everything about them.

From their occupation and income, to their interests and desires.

Also try to note everything that could possibly present issues in their lives, and offer solutions.

If your target audience is low income, you shouldn’t create a high price product.

Take this approach, and apply it to what your customers love, hate, want, have, and more.

2. Keep learning from your customers continuously

Whilst you may have gained a solid insight into your customers on one occasion, the learning shouldn’t stop there.

You may feel like you are on top of what your customers want and need after a project, but those needs will gradually change over time. As will product innovation.

And for these reasons, you need to maintain focus on your customers, otherwise, you will soon find yourself behind the competition.

It should also be noted that despite finding a solution to a customer’s issue, the first solution may not always be the best solution.

For that reason, continual improvement and learning from your buyers is essential.

When continually learning, try to consider a variety of perspectives. Keep your mind as open as possible.

You can even try a range of learning techniques, from interviewing your customers, to sending written surveys.

product discovery continuos
Source: ProductPlan

3. Thorough research of risk vs. rewards of a solution

Research is an important element of product discovery. That is no different when it comes to the risk management side of things.

Product discovery as a process aims to eliminate as much of the risk as possible, by researching what customers want from products.

However, that risk has to be weighed up first and compared to the potential reward.

When it comes to product discovery, there are four main risks. They are:

Viability risk: Whether the product can actually be made successfully, and in the decided time frame.

Value risk: If a customer will buy the product or service, or if they will use it.

Business risk: If the product works well with the other aspects of your business

Usability risk: Whether users can work out how to use the product

Effective product discovery lessens these risks, but only if you manage all four kinds of risk optimally.

Take the time to learn about all the potential pitfalls for your product. That way, you can avoid expensive mistakes.

4. Try using visual mapping for idea clarity

Visual mapping allows you to visualize all elements of your product discovery journey.

This is not only a great way to create track of your progress in a creative way, but it may also allow you to see things from new perspectives, and gain new insights.

Some examples of usual visual mapping techniques include:

  • Storyboards
  • Customer journey maps
  • Processing maps
  • Desires and needs maps
  • Planning maps

For many people, mapping is also an easier way to comprehend large quantities of information.

This means it may even speed up the process of product discovery. And there’s no end to the potential in mapping, so get creative!

product discovery mapping
Source: Productboard

5. Test assumptions, not just new products & features

Should you have assumptions, or theories about the wants and needs of your customers, you should always test them.

Perhaps, you will find a treasure chest of profitability from an assumption that will lead to commerce or ecommerce success.

And by testing your ideas, rather than just the final products, you can save a huge quantity of money that could potentially be spent creating unprofitable products or features.

By testing up front, you probably will end up spending more time prior to development. However, the time spent will likely result in funds saved.

You can also try using the above tactics to help you trial things with additional clarity.

And remember to consider the viability, and usability of any designs before even considering whether it will be a beneficial feature.

Product Discovery Wrap Up

Product discovery is the perfect way to gain a better understanding of your customers, and create a product suited to them.

By using these tactics, you will manage a thorough and effective product discovery process, so you can understand your customers to the best of your ability.

Related Content on Check out the best ecommerce platforms and website builders for starting online stores. If you have a SaaS product, then take a look at the best landing page builders.

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