When you’re in charge of or working on a product—be it an app, software, a physical good, etc.—your attention can easily shift to think about nothing but the end thing (for lack of a better word) as a whole.
But what happens when you shift your thinking from “I’m in charge of a product” to “I’m in charge of providing value”?
When you shift from focusing on “the product” to “the value we strive to offer people,” your tendency to fall back on a tired brand promise is quickly placed in check. It’s difficult to hide behind a marketing message or slogan when you focus on value.
How awesome is that? This passage shifted my way of thinking when I first read it a couple of years ago and has continued to guide me in how I make product and experience decisions.
Your market is constantly telling you what it needs—the problems it’s facing, the challenges it’s trying to overcome, what it can’t accomplish—these are all signals that are screaming for your attention.
But what’s really important is that these are opportunities to provide value to your market. Chances are, your product is relatively similar to your competitor’s product. Your features won’t set you apart—the value you provide will.
When it comes to providing value, how do you know what you should provide?
Writing a value-goal statement
So how do you put this into practice? Reframe your thinking and approach to what you do by going from something a little less literal and a little more philosophical or inspiration. By writing out a statement of what you are and how you differ from your competition, it forces you to consider what’s important (the value) about what you are creating.
Consider these two statements:
- I am the product manager for Spotify.
- I am the product manager for Dropbox.
They’re pretty bland and don’t tell you much. But consider how much different they become when they change to something like this:
- I bring joy to music lovers and help them discover their next favorite artist. Unlike the radio, our product allows consumers to create playlists and curates new music based on their past listening histories.
- I help people access and share their files wherever they are. Unlike a network hard drive, our product lives in the cloud and allows consumers to more easily collaborate on projects with their peers from any device.
Do you see the difference between the two sets? The first doesn’t tell you why you’re doing what you’re doing. The second set absolutely does, and can almost be seen as your battle cry if you spend enough time crafting it.
By being honest with yourself in your statement about what it is you’re doing in context to your competition (or who you consider to be the leader in the market), you can discover the emotional cues that make your product different.