I’ve made about 10 products in the past two years but the one I launched last week was my proudest.
I’m sure most product developers have this feeling. A product is launched but in your eyes, it’s a terrible product. Maybe it’s premature, or maybe someone high up changed something that ruined your product. Whatever it is, it makes you feel terrible, especially when the negative reviews come in.
But sometimes, you have a product that you’ve been secretly working on and one day marketing panics about not having a product you launch and you suggest your star product. They reluctantly accept because they have no time for market research or testing and then it gets manufactured without any problems because you’re just that good. Right?
There are many areas where you can feel completely satisfied with a launch of your product. It’s a perfect mix of having enough time to work on it, having your opinion not be stamped out, and of course, having people like it so much they can’t keep talking about it.
In most situations, you won’t have all of these things under your belt. You might only have 9 months to create a product, or someone up top hates your product so you have to do ridiculous changes to fix it, or maybe your product just tastes terrible (but it has the macros!)
I need a sense of time, a sense of ownership, and a sense or recognition to feel proud of my product. In this article I explain what these are, and I have tips on how you can feel proud on the things you make too.
A Sense of Time
In my opinion, it takes 2 years to make a perfect product but it seems like nobody has 2 years to make a product. 2 years gives you the ability to test out something that hasn’t been done before. For example, making a product as clean as possible, or testing a new ingredient in a formula.
These things take time to work out all the kinks. Not only do people have to actually like the product fresh, they have to like the products a year or two later.
Here’s how you can control time:
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Post-pone the project or don’t rush it: There are many reasons why projects get postponed and sometimes it’s not your fault. Just remember that the more time you have to refine your project, the better the product will be. There is a fine line between a great, not-rushed product and perfection and it takes time and a bit of intuition to find that sweet spot.
In most cases, you can control the time-frame of the project to a point. Mainly the pre-commercialization stage.
However, if the product development pipeline is as dry as a bone, then you’d either have to use your product or whip up something even faster.
Take concepts of failed projects and combine it with a new product: I’ve done this recently. I’ve seen projects that have been postponed and put in the graveyard to rot forever. When we had to make another bar, we kind of took an old concept, dusted it off the shelf, altered the nutritionals a bit, and then present it to the gatekeepers. It works!
A Sense of Ownership
If you have an artist’s mentality like me, you get really mad when people alter your vision. Whether it’s a painting, podcast or product, you made it, so you should have full control right?
Whether the product “doesn’t fit the target market” or is “too expensive”, the experts in marketing and purchasing have a point. These are perfectly valid points to change your product. However, an exceptional product developer would know the target market of the product and cost already figured out. But that’s another article.
Ownership is not required, and wanting this is quite selfish when you think about it. But having ownership on what you create is an amazing feeling. Something that can’t be replaced. You don’t need to own equity per sale to feel ownership, you need to feel like without you, this product wouldn’t even exist.
Here are some tools I use to get a better sense of ownership.
Become the authority of a certain product family: Protein bars are my domain and everyone knows it in the company. I make the bars, I evaluate the bars, and I know everything bar related. Or so people say.
Getting to be an authority requires quite a few wins (successful products) and quiet a few believers. I luckily had an amazing advocate for my expertise: my Chief Science Officer.
Leverage data to prove your point: the best way to convince your superiors that your product rocks is to compare your idea to their changes using the power of sensory testing. Get a sensory form, sample to 20 – 50 people and show them who’s right using science.
Being a rational scientific person, even if your product doesn’t win, you can respect why these changes were made and you don’t have to feel sour about it.
A Sense of Recognition
We had 80,000 boxes of my product last week and they sold out today.
Sometimes I search #smoresbar on Instagram and just look at the people who love my product.
Having a sense of recognition is the hardest thing to accomplish when it comes to feeling proud of your product but there are ways around it.
Your sensory data should have told you that your product statistically tasted good and your company culture should have given you signs that your product will sell but sometimes, people hate it anyways. That’s life.
Here’s how I know I made a good product.
Offer your product to employees in the office and see if they ask for more: I did a pilot run on 10 different bar flavors. With pilots, you have to see if the product works in manufacturing, and then you have to keep the rest, which then it ends up you have 10,000 bars sitting in your office.
So you offer these bars to the biggest meeting you’re a part of and everyone eats them. Some love them so much they message you every week saying that they have more and you give it to them because you’re not a jerk.
You know you have a winning product when people love your product so much they not only ask for more, but tell their friends that it’s an amazing product.
I listen to Seth Godin a lot. He’s a very wise man but the only thing I really take away about his talks is this: If you give your product to 10 people and they share your product, you have an amazing product.