Reflections on productising for start-ups and corporates

This past weekend I spent time with a group of like-minded people to learn more about building products with a purpose rather than building products for product sake. The workshop was run by Darren Shirlaw ( who I had seen present a few times previously and always have been impressed by. Darren’s approach is not magical but rather very pragmatic and based on common sense and I think everyone in the group on Saturday were really engaged and switched on to Darren’s wavelength.

In reflecting on the process that Darren described for creating products I realised that so many of the companies I have worked with have so often found a market need, built the solution but failed to really think about the positioning and marketing of their product. Positioning and go-to-market strategy is a very specific part of the advisory process I do within my work at Ariadne and I have to say the framework Darren gave us was most helpful.

The key learnings from the session for me were:

1. Always ask WHY: this was something that should have been more obvious to me having studied psychology and counselling but the impact to the buying and selling process was lost to me before. By asking why and getting your client to answer what need they are trying to fulfil is a very different approach to the usual sales process. It unlocks the value of what the client is looking for and gets them to better identify what the came to you for in the first place.

2. Pre-sold clients are more likely to be evangelists too: If a client buys you and your service / product before you have had to sell to them then there is a far greater chance of having a better, longer and more rewarding client relationship. To get clients to buy into you there is a simple but effective process and if done well… they become your evangelists and deliver new clients to you through recommendation.

3. Build the product story but sell the product Framework: Darren was extremely clear in the explanation that product stories answer a particular problem a client may have but they don’t excite the client. A framework however is what people buy into. This was a really powerful key to my thinking and I have already tested it with far greater success.

4. Consider your belief system regarding how you invest in your products: The first half of the session with Darren was about challenging our belief system around business, spending and investing, productising and delivering service. It was really challenging to think about how these make sense to the people we support and advise but phenomenally powerful. Are you an investor in your business – i.e. do you take a step back, put savings aside and look at how to invest them from an investor’s point of view or from a business manager’s point of view? The difference is both interesting and quite powerful.

If you get the chance to see Darren speak – take it!