Courtney Wylie – Building Your Business Model When Your Customer is not Your User

BY JAYSON ROBINSON ON NOVEMBER 2, 2017

What do you do when your customer is not your user ? Courtney Wylie, VP Product and Marketing at MentionMe, talks to ProductTank London about how to deliver value for all parties by building a business model which aligns with the interest of your users.

Don’t Keep a Special Swimlane for Client Requests

You have to be realistic. Some client requests are OK. They pay the bills. But they shouldn’t have their own team or swimlane to work on them. Otherwise you feel the need to fill the swimlane and can end up building features that are not in the best interest of your end users. Make client requests fight for resources with everything else.

Be Disciplined on Prioritisation

It can be hard to give equal weight to product development when all your revenue comes from one party and the “Customer is King”. Find a method or framework for prioritisation that is able to take into account the needs of all the different parties – business, users and customers. At MentionMe, they use ‘Planning Poker’. A cross-functional team get 20 chips each and place their chips on features to get built and if a feature gets enough chips, it makes it onto the roadmap. Find the method that works for you.

Develop a Business Model That Creates, and Incentivises, Shared Value

It can be tempting to build features and products because they make you money in the short-term. However, if you can find a way to link value for the end user, and in turn achieving value for the client and therefore your business, it will incentivise the best internal behaviours for product development. Courtney mentioned the new entrant of AirBnb in the travel industry, with their biggest disruption being the monitisation of both ends of the value chain.

Buyer Personas are Nice to Have, but They Don’t Help Understand the End-user

When selling a product into businesses, personas help to understand the buyer. However, they don’t help understand the end-users, who are the core users of the product. You have to find a way to conduct research directly with end-users and segment them, as well as your customers.

Cultivate ‘Special’ Relationships With Certain Clients to Access Their Users

Getting access to the end-user can be hard when you don’t own the relationship. If you can cultivate great relationships with clients, they may let you access their customers directly. This gives you great access to first-hand research and feedback.

Jayson Robinson

About JAYSON ROBINSON

Jayson is a product manager in Marks and Spencer's digital product team and co-organiser of ProductTank London. Most recently he has launched Marks and Spencer's new online food delivery service; food being an area he cares deeply about. Jayson started his career in consulting at Deloitte Digital, before joining Reevoo - a late stage startup - as a product manager. When he is not doing product things, Jayson is mainly failing at teaching his new puppy not to chew furniture and to do tricks

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