Product Storytelling Through Setting Roadmap Themes
31 Jul 2023|Product
Theme Park Ride Storytelling
Theme Park Ride Storytelling
When building products, whether it is zero to one, to scale products from small to large user-bases, product teams rely on roadmaps to guide them especially in prioritization of initiatives or tasks. There are a lot of proven and reliable frameworks to choose from anytime they need help with prioritization. However, what matters the most is not the framework, instead it is the ability of the roadmap to produce a coherent and interesting story intended to offer the most value to their users.
Bear in mind that product roadmaps, despite its nature as a source of reference of the product strategy and development planning, must not be treated as the be all and end all. This is true since by the time a planned initiative is supposed to be launched, a lot of variables would logically change the landscape of the product. That is why product teams need to keep some degree of flexibility on their roadmapping to ensure they can adapt and be agile enough to anticipate these uncertainties.
You may think that having too much flexibility is not good for the product, and you are correct as well. Being overly flexible usually leads to product teams getting lost in the middle of development due to straying too far from what they were trying to achieve initially. A great way to manage this is through establishing themes into the product roadmap, where each theme represents a phase for the product team to focus on providing value from.

Are We There Yet?

First of all, when we are building a product completely from scratch, there would not be anything our users can try out until we finally release something. Therefore our product roadmap shall always begin with a theme that represents our focus of getting not just a product on the market, but the correct one to ship at that time given the limitation of resources of which to build with. Defining what needs to be included in an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is crucial to avoid stumbling right out of the gates. The rule of thumb here is to only put essential features for the initial release (what will kill you if you do not have it since the start).
Aside from the brainstorm to define our MVP scope, people would never use our product even after we release it if they cannot find it in the first place. Focusing on maximizing discoverability will help us in getting a good enough early adopters count since our very first product release. Now why we are not talking about the usability or functionality of the product here is because we will explain this on the next theme (and for a very good reason we can assure you). But for now, research and plan well enough on which touch points or distribution channels can serve your product best to make it easy for users to find.

Are We Useful and Helpful Yet?

We have our product already on the market, and have started to gain some traffic from a variety of personas. Focusing on discoverability previously should set us up on the acquisition-of-users-part of product development. However, this does not guarantee the next steps in the funnel are also performing well from the beginning.
What is important for any business is how much revenue they can generate to cover the costs of their operations. Generating revenue should be reflected in converted customers or paid users from the ones acquired earlier. The higher the conversion rate, the more efficient your product is performing as a revenue generator.
If we find that our conversion rate is lower than what we projected it to be based on our research, at this stage it is usually due to the product or feature not deemed useful or helpful enough by the users already testing them. To cover this particular need, we should start to shift our product development focus from optimizing discoverability to optimizing functionality instead. Once the functionality of the product is up to the standards and preferences of the users, then we should start seeing our conversion rates improving and eventually leading to increased revenue.
This might seem odd since logically we should be thinking about functionality since the first release. But at that time we would not have any feedback from external users yet and therefore may lead to some degree of bias when deciding on how the experience should feel like. Now with the product already out and people already getting to it seamlessly, plenty of feedback would definitely come in for us to reference when fine tuning or adding supporting features to the existing build.

Are We Engaging and Rewarding Yet?

In the previous two sections, we talked about roadmap themes that first optimizes acquisition, and the other optimizes activation. Congratulations, we now have the knowledge to build products that are easy to find, easy to use, and address people's needs. However we should not stop at that as the product still has a lot of potential left on the table.
A more advanced way of maximizing revenue from our product, is to leverage what is called customer retention. When developing products, it is vital for the product to serve needs that people would not only have once in a lifetime. Instead, these needs are supposed to be repetitive and frequent in occurrence. Having people use our products over and over again means that we retain them and can therefore maximize our Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).
In order for us to prolong customer retention, our products must be engaging and at some degree rewarding for the users who use them. Since we already have a product that has validated its purpose and proven it has proper functionality for users, we now have the resources to start shifting our focus towards creating features that improves our customer engagement. Introduce things in the realms of loyalty programs or gamification which has been proven to be very effective to increase CLV.
By this stage, we should already have a product roadmap that can guarantee building products that are easy to find, easy to use, addressing people’s needs, and easy to stick through the themes we set forth for each quarterly phase of the roadmap. It does not matter whether you are building a zero to one product, or even growth scaling an established product, these themes should help you get to where you want your product to be.
As digital transformation consultants at ARKETIPE, one of our focuses is on how to ensure our clients can deliver the best products for their market. This can be done by helping them define the best themes for their product roadmap based on our extensive knowledge and experience from a variety of backgrounds and industries. For more on this topic and other inquiries, please do not hesitate to reach out to us from our company website or our social media accounts at Linkedin and Instagram.

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