So you've got a great product idea, but you're unsure what to do about it? How do you go from just an idea on a raw canvas to launching it to the mass public? Take a look at the 5 steps below to help you go from ideation to launch.
Step 1: Talk to your customers about their core problem
Most of the time, when we have a new idea, we feel inclined to jump into building a product right away. Nevertheless, we sometimes forget to ask ourselves if the problem is worth solving. In other words, we tend to jump too quickly into solving a problem before we even validate the core issue. So how do we validate a problem? The answer is simple: talk to people about it.
First, you will need to talk to your potential customers about the problem you're going after, to see if it is worth solving. For example, when we started building BeeCanvas, we heard from many of our early customers that they hated juggling multiple productivity apps while working remotely. The abundance of apps caused inevitable miscommunications, scattered information, and project delays. People felt discouraged and disconnected while working remotely. We immediately know something has to change.
Second, it's crucial to collect qualitative remarks from early customer interviews. Besides helping us craft the right solution to the hypothetical problem, these words and phrases help us prepare the right language we use in our marketing.
Step 2: Discuss your potential solutions with customers
Once you finish validating the problem, it's time to discuss your proposed solution with a few of your customers. As you keep fine-tuning the wordings, it's crucial to identify which words resonate the most with your audience. One tip is to ask customers to describe how they understand the solution and jot down everything they say.
As you talk to more people, you can start to use their words to describe the solution to others, so that your story gets more relevant for the next customer each time. We want to pay attention to what sticks, what helps the concept resonate more with potential users. It's not always about describing the solution. How you tell the story matters the most.
For example, in our first online whiteboard concept, one of our canvas's everyday use cases was brainstorming sessions. To our surprise, early adopters started using their canvases for remote workshops, onboarding documents, online class sessions, design roadmap, and feedback sessions, and so on. We realized, the possibilities for how people use their canvases are endless. Every time we hand customers a blank canvas, they customize it based on their most urgent needs. In fact, early adopters taught us so much about the products' full potential that we keep iterating and adding features based on their common use cases.
As you're discussing the concept with more customers, you can iterate the language used in marketing and in the product itself so your users can get onboarded more quickly.
In a nutshell, you want to continuously iterate on the concept, collect feedback, ideate, and repeat that cycle. Once you've had a much clearer idea of how your solution resonates with people, it's time to move into the next step.
Step 3: Create a landing page or build your online presence to iterate the concept
Nowadays, most people will learn about new products via a website or social media platforms. So the easiest way to test your concept is to create a landing page to see how people respond to the product idea.
This method gives you a low-risk solution to test and improve the concept and value propositions before you invest any more time and effort into developing the actual product or even the actual website.
Moreover, you will also be able to assess the aesthetics of your product. When we initially conceptualized BeeCanvas, we envisioned it as a pure white-boarding tool. So we designed just the whiteboard. As we continued to iterate with our beta users, we realized the product can go beyond just a simple whiteboard. We found out that customers would turn their BeeCanvas workspace into an online coursework management system, a product roadmap, an online knowledge base, a dynamic onboarding system, and the list goes on. In other words, as the product evolves, we realized we're on a path to reinvent the way people perceive and respond to an online workspace.
Step 4: Publish a "Private Beta" to iterate with users
At some point early on in development, when you have a beta version of your product, you can announce a Private Beta for earlier adopters. The beta usually lasts anywhere between 1 and 6 months. It lets you release something a bit rawer pre-launch and allows early adopters to give as much feedback as possible while trying out your work.
As we collect feedback from early users, we continuously iterate on features. For BeeCanvas, we published a private beta program and onboarded a batch of around 300 users at a time. By doing this, we could iterate each week with feedback given by both existing users and new users. It also creates a sense of exclusivity while building up anticipation by letting in a few people every month.
Each week, we release a new version, take the feedback from last week and incorporate it as we see fit. One thing to keep in mind is the willingness to let go of features that don’t align with customers’ needs.
After a couple of iterations, time to include the press to work on a few PR articles. Then eventually, you'll be ready for the launch,
Step 5: Design the best content marketing you'll ever have
During the Private Beta, you want to start writing and publishing blog posts about the changes you've made to the product each week, and share “Aha!” moments that you took away from each iteration.
These blog posts serve as an outlet to show the intention and stories behind each product design decision. We want to show the audiences all the effort you've put in to craft the right product for them. Customers appreciate the behind-the-scenes stories on how the work came to life. The blog posts help tell the potential user that the product is not just built overnight by a startup trying to make quick exits; it's built by real people that authentically care about solving a problem they themselves have — down to the smallest details.
In a nutshell, we always start the process by figuring out and validating the problem. Then, you talk about the solution with people. After careful assessments, you start building and involve users in every step of the process. Afterwards, we improve the language, build up anticipation, and create content marketing, driven by thoughtful customer discovery and validation process.
With that said, the key to launching a product successfully is not just a scalable process, but also a much - needed vision to solve real problems. When our two co-founders started this journey, they did not build BeeCanvas to make some easy bucks. They were in need of a solution to their problem. The founders wanted to empower great innovators and teams to achieve their goals faster, better, and more importantly, more sustainable.