How to Avoid Being Blindsided by your Competition by Jeetu Patel
Jeetu Patel, chief product officer at Box, joined us at ProductTank San Francisco to share his top tips to help product leaders stay ahead of their competition. In today’s competitive product landscape, Jeetu recommends focusing on the right problem, the right people and the right users to make your product stand out. Below is a summary of his recommendations:
Pick the Right Problem to Solve
According to Jeetu, the harder the problem you choose to solve, the higher the caliber of people you will attract to work on it. With a more talented team, the chances of solving the problem increase. An easy problem may seem like low hanging fruit, but might mean you make less impact.
People don’t like change. Making a product that solves a problem 20% better than your competition won’t get customers to switch. You need to solve the problem significantly better than your competition in order to get customers to choose you over their existing solution. To do this, focus your resources on your differentiator and use this as a guide for when to build verses when to partner.
Build Experiences People Love
Your customers are your greatest advocates, and they will market your product for you if you build something they love. Focus on getting a small group of users obsessed with your product and their word of mouth will lead to organic growth.
Obsess about Product/Market fit
Jeetu thinks of products in three phases:
- Finding product/market fit
- Identifying a repeatable selling motion
You cannot scale successfully until you’ve arrived at product/market fit. Once you’ve found product/market fit, you need to identify a repeatable selling motion to determine how to sell what you have to many customers, without reinventing the wheel each time. Once you’ve done that, you can focus on growth. If you don’t focus on one step at a time, you’ll be wasting precious resources while your competitor is getting ahead.
Retention Drives Growth
It’s so easy to get caught up with acquisition, but if you don’t get people coming back, you’ll end up with a “leaky bucket”. Pay attention first to retention so you learn what makes your product “sticky” for customers, then look to grow your base.
Don’t Ignore the Marginal User
During the first phase of finding product/market fit, focus on the power users, those who love your product, to get them to evangelize you over your competition. Once you have them singing your praises, you need to open up your focus to include marginal users. Marginal users are the key to helping your product grow to a market-leading solution.
Define a Core Organizational Unit
Jeetu recommends identifying a way to organize core cross-functional teams within your organization. This is a team who has each others’ backs and shares a common vision of the product.
Hunger and Curiosity Trumps all Else
This is one of Jeetu’s core tenants of hiring. He believes these characteristics provide individuals with the intrinsic motivation to impact the world around them.
Half-life Reduces Dramatically in the Digital age
Your competitors are moving as quickly or even faster than you are, so focus on your core competencies that will make your product stand out. You don’t have time to waste on the things you can do “okay”, instead focus on what makes you the best.
Make sure your team understands the why behind the problem they’re solving . This will excite the team to give their all.
Jeetu advises product leaders to stay focused on these key areas to ensure time and resources are put towards making the greatest impact, keeping your team and your product ahead of the competition.
Want more? Jeetu’s talk closes with a Q & A featuring him and Martin Eriksson, founder of ProductTank and co-founder of Mind the Product, on their thoughts on product leadership, team building, and measurement.