P/MF should happen at the idea stage, not after launching.

Product/Market Fit is found way before launching

23.2.2022

Karl Filtness, Growth Director, partner MEOM

Kirjoittaja

Growth Director, Partner

How to get to product/market fit is probably a startup’s most sought question. In most cases, the question pops up soon after launching the product. The quickest route to P/MF isn’t tackling it after launch, but approaching it while still in the idea phase. Let me elaborate.

Discovering Product/Market Fit isn’t a nice and tidy process that progresses from one step to the next by ticking To-Do’s on a list. You don’t stumble upon P/MF after sharing your product to the world. 

From a high-level, the process goes:

IDEA – PROTO – MVP – LAUNCH – P/MF – SCALE. 

Yes, P/MF comes directly after launch, but in reality this isn’t true. Or, if you have got a lot of time and money lying around, you can grind it out after launching.

The majority of work that is needed to find your Product/Market Fit happens during the idea and proto phases.

This is the time to get inside the heads of your future customers, understand their desires and problems, and create an offer that they simply cannot refuse. (No horses are ever harmed when working with MEOM!)

Laying the foundation

A synonym for Product/Market Fit is: The Right Product For The Right Customer. Simple as that.  

Identify your customer

The first step is to identify the appropriate customer. Based on your idea, you can figure out several suitable and potential customer segments. You must find your ideal Early Adopter to pursue.

The way to do this is straight-forward: you go talk to them. One of the most crucial, and simultaneously overlooked, steps is conducting customer interviews

Your future customers are the experts, they are the heroes, and your product’s sole function is to make them shine and aid them in their heroic endeavours. To be able to create this tool of awesomeness, you must comprehend what their pain-points are, what they need to prosper and what helps them fulfil their goals.

If you can gather insights and utilise them in your solution, you are on the way towards creating a successful product and unlocking Product/Market Fit.

Understand your competition

Unfortunately, we don’t operate in vacuum. The market also contains competitors that are luring your customers with enchanting words and promises. It is impossible to encounter a market that isn’t full of solutions and alternatives.

Identifying direct competitors is easy, but like the saying goes, there are many ways to skin a cat. The indirect competitors, products that solve the problem for your clients, are crucial to determine if you want to succeed. They provide opportunities to exploit, if you approach them with an open mind. 

Your unique position

Finding your Product/Market Fit requires you to stand out, be different and offer value in an improved way. Battling established companies and their products is a fight you will lose – a startup hasn’t got the money, resources, or status for a heads-on battle.

But by being smarter, addressing the customer’s problem, finding an underserved segment and providing a new unique solution, you can flourish.

All of the above requires zero coding, designing, marketing or money. All you need is determination, a will to put your body (especially your ears) on the line, freeing your mind by challenging your assumptions and biases, using your cognitive capabilities to the max and sacrificing time.

The foundation of your Product/Market Fit lies in the hands and heads of your customers, your job is to extract it from there and sculpt it into your product. 

Validating your convictions

Now that you have the foundations, the next step is turning everything you have learned into something tangible – something to test with your customers

Typically, this means a prototype of the product, but you should test more than that. The words that you use are pivotal: they convey your value, they describe who should care, they separate you from the rivals. Words make or break a product business. When hearts flutter, brains buy. 

Testing your customer acquisition helps you gather traction and find potential pilot customers. It sets the tone on proceeding after launching and how to maintain momentum. Simultaneously, you get the chance to test and improve your prototype and wording. 

Testing, iterating and improving validates your convictions and corrects false beliefs. These help you find Product/Market Fit quicker after going live and announcing “Hello, World”. 

Product/Market Fit starts well before turning code into a functional product. It should be on your mind from day one. Without P/MF, your startup will be in a continuous struggle; in the limbo of should we call it quits or pivot. 

Join our Product Accelerator and start identifying the elements of P/MF

We have launched Finland’s first 100% product oriented accelerator. In 12 weeks, we will tackle all the fundamental elements of creating a successful product that has the potential of P/MF. 

Read more about the program and apply now!