What does leading with product look like? Nothing is more valuable to product-led businesses than consumer advocacy, and it takes an exceptional user experience to inspire that kind of goodwill.
Ben Thompson, a thought leader in technology strategy, is adamant that the user experience is the key differentiator in today's market. His flagship concept, Aggregation Theory
, posits that "the best distributors/aggregators/market-makers win by providing the best experience, which earns them the most consumers/users, which attracts the most suppliers, which enhances the user experience in a virtuous cycle."
Product-led companies have a strong product vision coupled with high standards and a drive toward innovation. When they make new hires, they hire individuals who share a product-first mindset, aligning everyone on the team around a shared vision.
Being product-led also means that your business vision mirrors your customers' needs. This vision should inform every decision you make, from the very outset of the company's formation.
Steve Jobs embodied his belief
that Apple needed to "start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology." He knew that many companies had superior technology and still lost in the marketplace. It was Apple's unique customer experience that drove its incredible successes.
More specifically, product-led companies prioritize the answers to these questions:
- Who is your customer? (Hint: It's not everyone.)
- What outcomes are they looking to achieve?
- Why are they dissatisfied with their current options?
- How does your product help them achieve the outcomes they desire?
- Without knowing the right answers to these questions, it's impossible to lead with product.
Have you yourself ever retained a product that didn't solve a problem for you? Likely not. No amount of investment in sales, marketing, tech, or talent will substitute for a failure to deliver a relevant, standout offering. Long-term customer engagement is fundamental to winning in the marketplace, and customer engagement starts with a great product — meaning companies must start there, too.