MODULE 4_ PRODUCTIZING SAAS
Step 1. Get Ready, and PRODUCTIZE your idea into an offering of value.
The chainsaw example in the previous module illustrated what PRODUCTIZATION IS. But between concept and reality is the Grand Canyon.
This module, we drill down on the first phase of PRODUCTIZATION— identifying the characteristics of your idea, and complete Step 1 of bringing your idea to fruition.
You’ll begin, as we did with the chainsaw, by categorizing your idea’s space in the marketplace, and then identifying some FEATURES and BENEFITS of your offering. You’ll learn how to create the first two of the eight required PRODUCTIZATION lists.
In List 1A, you’ll define your idea’s FEATURES. List 1B, you’ll identify the BENEFITS of your product or service— the solutions, or value your offering provides.
Again, in this module you’ll only be filling LIST 1A and 1B with the FEATURES and BENEFITS of your idea, offering in development, or fully developed product or service you’d like to BRAND and market. We’ll get on to the six other Productization lists in the following modules of Workshop 1.
Productize Software from Idea to Marketable Offering
To illustrate the process of Productizing software, I’ve chosen an idea I thought of a while back but never actualized. (LSM_Pic20)
PHP Advocates is a peer-to-peer SaaS application designed to help people connect with others available to help them, both in-person and online. PHP stands for People Helping People. I’m using my PHP Advocates IDEA as the Productization example, since many of you are likely designing applications, and social media platforms.
Unlike the chainsaw example, software has no physical characteristics, so describing it’s features becomes a bit more challenging. But we begin with the same first question about our idea: What IS it?
Identify Software Category Through Segmentation
The graphic below (LSM_Pic21) is a simplified industry segmentation model for software. I created it to help me define my idea— find its space in the marketplace. How do I know how to set up this chart? First, I think about the types of software out there, and make a mental list of the software categories I imagine my idea fits. Then I Google “software categories.” Google returns nearly half a million links that show dozens to hundreds of software categories, many in convenient bullet lists.
Software is PHP Advocates space in the marketplace. What IS it? It’s software. And that’s very general, which is where we begin. Like the marketing process, PRODUCTIZATION starts broad and drills down.
I created the chart using several of the main software TOPIC CLASSIFIERS that I found through Google’s link returns, and break down the categories into segments as shown (LSM_Pic21).
Next, we categorize our idea into specific industry segments, to help us more effectively define our offerings features, and identify broad marketplaces in which the features of our software fit.
Software is parsed into two commonly used segments: Programs, also called Systems, and Applications. These labels are often used interchangeably, but when we think of programs, we’re usually referring to much more complicated systems, like networking solutions or operating systems, or development tools like Photoshop or CAD systems.
When we talk about applications we’re usually referring to simpler programs, like mobile apps that are customer facing, user friendly, and deal in areas like entertainment, education, and human services.
To identify specific industry segments for my PHP Advocates idea, I pick characteristics out of this segmentation model I created. I’ve identified my idea as an Application, not a program, as my software won’t let you create things, like Photoshop, but it will connect you with others, more like a social network. It’s primary use is not entertainment, but aide— in online learning, or physically showing up to help someone in need.
The more categories you identify in your model, the easier it is to align the FEATURES of your offering with specific industry segments that will likely benefit from using your software. Tightly segmenting industries gives us insight into the people, through their job function, that are likely target markets for our offering.
Segmentation modeling will help you identify target uses who can utilize, and will find value in your offering.
Using this modeling technique, I’ve identified PHP Advocates space in the overall marketplace as software. But more fine grain, I’ve classified my idea as a business-to-consumer (B2C), peer-to-peer (P2P), educational, e-learning and live consulting, Software as a Service (SaaS) application.
Step 1. What IS It?
Here’s what we already know about my PHP Advocates idea—we know its SPACE in the marketplace, and we’ve identified specific industry segments as well. We’ve figured out my idea is a B2C, P2P, SaaS application. And by using the Industry Segmentation model, we’ve already begun to define some of its FEATURES as well.
We’ve identified “Live Consulting,” from our model, and PHP has two different types of this FEATURE— We have online LIVE Chat consulting with experts, and we also have PERSONAL advocates, actual people who will meet users for doctor visits, meetings, in-home tutoring and such.
Remember, PRODUCTIZATION starts wide and drills down. And just like the chainsaw example, to understand, and communicate what my app IS, we begin by creating a list of its FEATURES, also known as FUNCTIONS in software. The additional features/functions shown in LSM_Pic22, are simply describing what my application IS.
Some of PHP Advocates FEATURES include:
• User Interface (UI—what you see on the screen of any given device) that’s easy to see and simple to navigate.
• My app is on a secure cloud platform.
• All PHP Advocates and experts are thoroughly vetted, with extensive background checks, and references.
I’m simply creating a bullet list of the features/functions of my projected application. The more features I conceive, the more benefits I can identify from the features of my offering.
In LSM_Pic22, I already have a User Interface (UI). I created it to visually demonstrate how to identify FEATURES of my idea. And while visualization is a very effective tool for actualizing ideas, if you do NOT have a UI designed for your SaaS application, which most of you likely won’t, no worries! We’ll get on to User Interface (UI/UX) design and navigation in WORKSHOP 2. For now, begin PRODUCTIZATION List 1A, and actualize your idea’s FEATURES by simply listing as many as you can imagine.
List 1A: FEATURES of Your Idea
Use BULLET POINTS, and describe each FEATURE/FUNCTION of your offering in ONE short sentence, with the simplest possible language for quick reading and understanding.
The first part of PHP Advocates Feature’s list is the most obvious, the MUST HAVE FEATURES for any software application to have broad appeal: Easy to learn. Simple to use. Secure. Intuitive. Fast loading, and functioning UI. (LSM_Pic23)
The rest of the list follows the same process as with Productizing the chainsaw earlier. Simply list the specific FEATURES of your [projected] offering.
Remember to focus List 1A on just the FEATURES— the characteristics of what your idea IS. Stick to the basics first, the most obvious MUST HAVE’S, but then extend your list of bullet points to your idea specifically. If it’s a physical offering, like a sports drink or makeup line, describe the ingredients, or materials it’s made of; its method of delivery; its construction, optional colors or designs to choose from. If it’s software, with no hardware (besides a cellphone or computer) needed, list the functions the software performs.
Whether software, or cupcakes, list as many FEATURES/FUNCTIONS as you can conceive, as specifically as you can (no fluff words).
One of the critical FEATURES I want PHP Advocates to have, is an accurate Recommendation system, that will match users with all types of advocates that will serve them, across the entire PHP platform. To actualize this FEATURE requires Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Behavior Driven Development (BDD) algorithms. While recommendations that find who users want to reach quickly and easily is clearly a BENEFIT of PHP Advocates, for the FEATURES list, we don’t necessarily care what the benefit of this FEATURE is, or who this FEATURE serves right now, just that PHP Advocates is projected to have this particular type of functionality.
In forming my idea for PHP Advocates, I’ve imagined many Features/Functions for my application. When conceiving FEATURES for your idea, start broad, and position your idea in the marketplace of sellable offerings with an industry segmentation model. Next, list the basic FEATURES, then drill down beyond basics to the specific FEATURES of your idea.
The longer your list, the more content you’ll have for your advertising and marketing down the line. It will also help educate you as to the viability of turning your initial idea into an offering of value. If, in the process of creating your FEATURES list, you can’t think of more than a few FEATURES, that likely exist in competitor’s offerings, then ITERATE your idea— morph it into something else. If your FEATURES list is long, with at least a couple of unique bullet points that set your idea apart from similar offerings, it’s likely you have a solid foundation for actualizing your IDEA into a product or service for profit.
This first part of PRODUCTIZATION—defining some the FEATURES of your idea, lets you actualize it, give it shape, context, components, both real and sometimes virtual ‘parts,’ that coalesce, and turn your idea into more than just a vague notion or passing thought.
But more than that, the FEATURES list clearly shows you what you have, and don’t, and what you need to add to your idea to turn it into a product or service someone wants. Even better, the words on your FEATURES list can be used as direction and content for your BRANDING, advertising and marketing campaigns down the line!
And don’t forget, like all PRODUCTIZATION Lists, the FEATURES list is dynamic. List 1A should be added to all the time, with every new characteristic uncovered, and every upgrade released.
Step 2. What Does It DO?
Now that we know where our idea fits in the marketplace, and some of the FEATURES of our offering, it is taking shape, becoming something, other than just an idea in our head. So, just like with the chainsaw example, where we took our FEATURES and turned them into BENEFITS, we’re doing the same thing with my PHP Advocates application. I’ve taking the FEATURES of my idea, List 1A, and translated them into BENEFITS and solutions. (LSM_Pic24)
List 1B: List the BENEFITS of Your Offering
In List 1B (LSM_Pic25), I’ve simply taken my list of FEATURES for PHP Advocates, and identified the BENEFITS of these particular features. Always begin with the obvious FEATURES, the functions that any software MUST HAVE to garner broad appeal, and drill down from there.
The benefit of my app on a Cloud platform is it’s accessible on multiple devices. Using software standards implies users have a quality experience and secure transactions. (LSM_Pic25)
While an “Intuitive and Engaging User Interface” are FEATURES of PHP Advocates, they are also BENEFITS. I can use Intuitive and Engaging UI in my marketing material targeted to developers or engineers, but I’ll choose words like Easy to Learn, Simple to Use when marketing to older, less tech-savvy targets. FEATURES and BENEFITS are often interchangeable, but it is important to categorize them separately, and in this BULLET LIST fashion, so you, and those you hire, have CONTENT for your marketing material—FEATURES, BENEFITS and solutions—to tout in the BRANDING process. You will use the words and phrases on List 1B, noting the BENEFITS of your offering, again and again in your ad campaigns and marketing material for launch and beyond.
BENEFITS and SOLUTIONS are virtually one and the same. A BENEFIT of PHP Advocates is that the app allows you to build teams of pros for your needs. This benefit can also be couched as a SOLUTION. Entrepreneurs are often solopreneurs. Working on their own, they lack the resources to employ needed personnel. Using PHP Advocates, users can create a team of on-call consultants to help them anytime, 24/7, in fact.
Couching benefits as solutions requires at least some projection of who your target market is. PHP Advocates provides entrepreneurs (which is a target market) a solution to their lack of personnel and resources. We’ll examine target marketing, and targeting USERS, in the following modules, but for List 1B, if you’ve no target market in mind yet, no problem. Focus your list on just the BENEFITS of your offering’s FEATURES.
And remember, like ALL PRODUCTIZATION Lists, your offering’s BENEFITS List should be added to continually. (LSM_Pic26) Every time a new BENEFIT or solution is uncovered, a bullet point describing it should be added to the BENEFIT’S List.
Once you’ve filled the BENEFITS list with an initial set of bullet points of BENEFITS and solutions that your offering’s FEATURES provide, be sure to save it in the F & B folder, under PRODUCTIZATION Lists inside your main IDEA folder. Make sure to adhere to your PROJECT HIERARCHY exactly, and put files in their specified locations.
Access to all PRODUCTIZATION Lists should be available to most everyone in your organization, so team members can input FEATURES, BENEFITS, TARGET USERS, COMPETITORS, and new TARGET MARKETS as they arise. These lists should be managed by the MARKETING department, in co-ordination with sales and customer service, who receive direct input from user feedback. Customers are all too often a neglected wellspring of information!
Discover WHO Will Find Benefit in the Features of Your Offering
Once you’ve created the first two of the eight required PRODUCTIZATION Lists to actualizing your IDEA into a product or service of value, you’re ready to explore WHO your great new offering will serve. Walking the process of constructing LIST 1A and 1B gives you insight into your IDEA’s FEATURES, and what specific BENEFITS those FEATURES provide. But WHO will benefit from these specific FEATURES of your offering? Discover how to find the people who will find interest in your offering, then identify where they hang out, what they like, and don’t, and how to reach them.
MODULE 5: TARGET MARKETING is next.