by Adam Root, founder and CTO of Hiplogiq
If you were looking for a lawyer to represent your company for a multimillion-dollar merger, what kind of lawyer would you want? A DUI lawyer? A jack-of-all-trades, I’ll-make-your-copies-too lawyer?
Didn’t think so.
Most of us would want to hire the most experienced, cutthroat lawyer specializing in multimillion-dollar mergers. By offering less, the lawyer actually provides more value to his clients because he’s the best at what he does. The same rule applies to product and app development.
Launching a new product can be costly, but adding features to a successful existing product can be even more costly if the additions take away from your product’s unique focus. Particularly in app development, it’s better to specialize your products and develop a handful of simple apps that are very good at small, individual tasks, rather than create a behemoth that tries to do everything.
When deciding what the next step in your product or app development should be, ask yourself: Do your users really want more features, or are their requests signaling a deeper problem? Do you want the product, or does your target market want the product? The answer to these questions lies in data.
To Add or to Build: A Miniature Case Study.
When I began developing the customer search engine SocialCentiv using Twitter, I envisioned the project as an add-on to our already popular SocialCompass. To determine whether there was real demand for SocialCentiv, I set out to collect some data.
To start, I used Google AdWords to target potential users and direct traffic to a landing page that communicated the value of the program. Once I saw that the initial demand was high, I decided to continue my research to find more qualitative results. I went to several tradeshows to validate my data and networked with small business decision makers.
Ultimately, the final project only took shape because I confirmed the demand for a standalone product through consistent, thorough research. It saved the company millions in time and money, and in this case, building a new, simpler platform was more successful than bogging down a popular and useful app.
3 Signs You Need a New Product, Not a Product Addition.
Every situation is unique, but it’s usually better to specialize your product, rather than offer a wide array of mismatched features. Here are three signs your business needs to launch a new product and skip the update on an existing one:
1. Fractured Code Base.
If you had to “hack” several things to make your app work for different user segments, that could indicate a need for a separate product. In our case, we saw a huge delta between two key markets (small businesses and digital agencies) and used the opportunity to build a new product, rather than segment or add on to SocialCompass.
2. Pricing Gaps.
Pricing gaps can signal a need for a new product. If one segment of your users is willing to pay your market price and another is willing to pay a higher price, that’s a good indication that your product is trying to capture too broad a market. Specialize your product to a more specific market instead of trying to cater to everyone.
3. Frustrated Users.
Frustrated users come in every shape and size. If your product has users who think your product is too simplified and has too few features and users who think your product is too complex and has too many features, you’ll be stuck between complaints. You need to create a separate application to address these different user groups.
If you aren’t 100 percent confident in your ability to deliver a vital product to your market, you haven’t done enough research. Create ads. Send surveys. Go to tradeshows and network with customers.
Once you have data that confirms the market is ready for your product, ask prospective customers to pay you on a consulting basis to execute the same strategy your product will do programmatically. If they pay you, you can be sure that launching a new product is the right move for your business.
Adam Root has worked in development and design for Fortune 500 companies, midsize agencies, and startups. He’s the founder and CTO of Hiplogiq, makers of marketing technologies SocialCompass and SocialCentiv.