one of the most important goals for a startup is to achieve product-market fit, but it is also one of the most misunderstood concepts. Many businesses fail because they waste money on products that no one wants. Startups should prioritize product-market fit above all other objectives because those who achieve it will significantly increase their chances of success. To avoid this, ensure that you understand the pain points that your product addresses as well as the challenges that your customers are attempting to solve. Dan Olsen, a product management expert, has proposed the Lean Product Process, a six-step framework that allows you to go through the proper process of measuring product/market fit.

1. Identify your target customer

Begin with a hot-button issue that affects a specific group of people. Customers will ultimately determine how well a product meets their needs. Make use of market segmentation to clearly identify your target audience. The partitioning of the entire market into market segments consisting of potential customers with similar needs and behaviour is known as segmentation.

Defining the attributes and characteristics of various target users, also known as "persona archetypes," is a great way to describe your target customer and ensure that everyone on the product team understands who the product is designed and built for. Start with a high-level hypothesis about your target customer and revise it as you learn, refine, and tweak the features of your product to improve it, a process known as iterating.

2. Identify underserved customer needs


Following the formation of your hypothesis about your target customers, the next step is to understand their requirements. As you try to create value for customers, you need to identify the specific needs that correspond to a good market opportunity. You probably don't want to enter a market where customers are extremely satisfied with how well existing solutions meet their needs.

When creating a new product or improving an existing one, you want to address unmet customer needs: their "underserved" needs. Customers will judge your product by comparing it to the alternatives; so the degree to which your product meets their needs will be determined by the competitive landscape.

3. Define your value proposition


Determine which customers’ needs your product or service can best meet. Determine how you can outperform your competitors while surprising your customers. When deciding which challenges to address, keep your product roadmap in mind; not every problem will fit into yours. For example, Spotify's value proposition positions the streaming service as providing access over ownership, data-driven personalization, and the ability to unbundle content.

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4. Specify your MVP feature set

Following the definition of your value proposition, specify the functionality of your minimum viable product. This strategy aims to build only what is necessary to provide enough value to your target customer to validate that your product is on the right track. This approach's goal is to iterate until you have a minimum viable product that customers agree is viable.

5. Create your MVP prototype

To test your MVP hypotheses with customers, you must first show them a version of your product so they can provide feedback. To bring your feature set to live for your customers, you will need to use user experience (UX) design. While you could create a live, working version of your MVP, creating an MVP prototype is usually faster and more prudent. A prototype is a representation of your product that you create without actually building it.

Prototypes can differ in terms of fidelity (how closely they resemble the final product) and interactivity (how much the user can interact with the prototype compared to the final product).

A clickable/tappable prototype can be created by using a set of high-fidelity mockups of your product's pages/screens. Clickable/tappable hot spots can be specified and linked to other pages/screens using prototyping tools like InVision, Sketch, and UXPin. These prototypes can typically simulate the user experience of the final product with enough fidelity and interactivity to elicit useful feedback from customers. Prototypes are an effective way to look before leaping.

6. Test your MVP with customers


Once you have the MVP prototype, it is time to get feedback from the target audience. If your friends or family members are potential customers, don't turn to them. Because doing so puts you at risk of receiving incorrect or biased feedback. Instead, make your design prototype available to anyone who wants to test it, such as potential users who might end up purchasing the product when it's finished.

Observe what the potential user says or does while using the prototype during any interaction with them. Ask clarifying questions, and try to go deeper to gain more insights. Avoid asking closed questions with Yes/No answers. Encourage participation, brainstorming, and idea generation instead. Listen to your testers, look for patterns in similar comments, and then go look for ways to improve the product.

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In most cases, product-market fit does not happen on the first try. You'll probably have to test and adjust your product or service several times before you find the ideal balance of value proposition, customer base, and distribution. Experiment frequently based on feedback from your audience. If your data suggests it, adjust your concept and be prepared to pivot if necessary. If you are looking to build a product or identify product-market fit you can contact Zartek Technologies.