Building a new product, whether you’re just starting out or trying to complement to your existing core business, comes with a laundry list of challenges. Dreaming up the vision for what your product could be is one thing, but bringing it to life is a whole new challenge. After all, you could just will a product into existence, but unless you’re providing customers with real solutions to their problems, you’re just muddying the waters with another tool. In order to use tech to elevate your business, you need to be solving pains and making lives better through your digital product. And that takes planning, prioritization, and pivots (the three P’s, if you will).
In order to use tech to elevate your business, you need to be solving pains and making lives better through your digital product.
This is just what Stephanie Ragozzino, EVP of Product at PERQ, was tasked with when she joined the team to build a product that would elevate their services business. PERQ started as a traditional advertising services company, but today they offer a marketing cloud for digital marketing managers in “high-considered purchase markets” like home furnishings, automobiles, or apartments. This transformation from a services business to a tech-enabled company was Steph’s responsibility, and the road to build a complementary digital product was one filled with lessons.
From the early days of whiteboarding and post-it notes to the unforeseen realizations from customer feedback, PERQ’s product roadmap pivoted plenty of times but remained true to the overall vision, focused on solving the pain points of the buyers they already knew from their existing services business. They learned a few other important lessons along the way.
Target a market segment that you are familiar with in order to work out the kinks of your product, because you don’t want to tarnish your established brand with a poorly executed digital product. PERQ first launched their product to the automotive industry because they were familiar with that buyer and understood their pain points.
Steph's product team tested and tweaked the product, received feedback, and made improvements.
“For those of you familiar with automotive websites, there's no lack of calls to action on an automotive website. The problem is is that if you've ever interacted with automotive site you click on a call to action and they all look exactly the same… There is no return for the consumer whatsoever… so we started to build out our website conversion solution in automotive to start.” - Stephanie
Sell on results, not on custom solutions.
Rather than just agreeing to build whatever the customer says they need, align your efforts to the higher goal that you want to achieve with your product. Sell based on the results they can achieve and the solution you’re providing them.
PERQ started with a platform play, telling customers they could build a custom solution for the problem they faced, but they quickly pivoted to a solution that was based on research and product expertise. Because although the customer may think they know what is best, it is impossible to promise end results when the customer is driving the ship.
“So we started to sell, you know, we will custom build any solution for you, Mr. Automotive Dealer. And that was great. It sold wonderfully. But it was nearly impossible to deliver because, again, we found our success in selling results and selling a solution. And what happens is, when everybody's a designer, the results don't work out to be the same.” - Stephanie
Surround your product with the right support
While it is important to have a valuable and usable product, if you don’t back it up with the right support then you aren’t giving it a real chance to be successful.
What do we mean by the “right support?”
Great products require the right support staff, the right collateral, and the right marketing and sales teams in order to truly be successful.
This can be especially challenging for companies that are building a product to support a pre-existing business, like PERQ was doing. In order to give your digital product the chance to make a difference, you have to give it the right foundation.
“If you have a great product but don’t have the appropriate sales staff, and the collateral, and the marketing support in order to do it, it's going to fall flat. There's more than just product when it comes to going into a new market.” - Stephanie
Tech can take any business to another level, regardless of industry, but it has to be done well or else it is just another tool. Users have high expectations for digital products, and it is important that you provide them with a solution that addresses their specific pain points and makes their lives better. PERQ used a digital product to transform their services business into a tech-enabled marketing solution, and this has allowed them to grow and better service their customers.
To hear more about what it takes to build a complementary product that elevates your existing business, tune into Stephanie’s episode of the Better Product Podcast.