Sync Your Product And The Market

by Holland-Mark | March 14, 2011

We wrapped up our Sync™ process for Intronis this week, uncovering a few powerful insights about who their target customer really is, and how their product needs to evolve to better address that target’s needs. I thought I’d take the opportunity to explain what Sync is about, and provide a template for you DIYers out there.

Why Sync?

To win today a product needs to solve a real problem for real people, better than alternative means of doing so. Sounds easy. But it’s not.

Startup brands often struggle to identify such a problem, and evolve toward it. More established brands struggle to maintain focus on such a problem, even as it evolves.

Yet it’s never been more important to get your product right. A single unhappy customer with a Twitter account might dissuade hundreds from buying your product, just as a happy one on Facebook can have the reverse effect. 

A recent Nielsen study indicated that 90% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know, compared to around 60% who trust advertising on TV, in newspapers, and magazines. The implication is clear: happy customers – and unhappy ones – are half again as effective at influencing prospects as conventional advertising.

Being Imperative starts with getting closer to the truth of what your customers really want, then taking action to move your messaging, your product, and even your company boldly in that direction.  

What is Sync?

Sync is a means of aligning internal perception with external reality. It’s a fast-track, action-oriented strategic consulting engagement focused on identifying the path from where you are to where you need to be.

Think of it as a collaborative journey to practical possibility. Here’s how it works.

  1. Sync “Vision” Workshop – A series of executive workshops that distill a consensus vision for what we believe is the perfect offering, followed by identification of the underlying assumptions that need to be validated before we proceed. 
  2. Sync “Truth” Research & Report – Next we test those assumptions, using whatever research tools make sense. We interview or survey customers, prospects, influencers, and front-line staff, conduct a competitive audit, examine the quantitative and qualitative metrics of success in the business today, etc. When it’s done we share the results objectively, with emphasis on the facets of the original vision aligned with the external truth, and those that are not. 
  3. Sync “Integration” Workshop – Next is a workshop to refine the Phase I product positioning vision, establish and collectively commit to a new one.  
  4. Sync “Action” Business Process Change Recommendations – Finally we focus on the prioritized, “Top 5” changes that will advance us toward that product vision. Sometimes it’s a feature re-prioritization in the engineering team, other times an org structure change, or even, as with Intronis, the need to define and implement a new operational metric to shift focus across the company. 

It’s odd when you think about it that conventional agencies – who in theory are looking for the most cost effective ways to help clients grow their business – rarely meddle in matters of product. The reason isn’t that they’re not smart enough, it’s just that their economic model doesn’t make doing so worthwhile.

We start with an effort to build a clear consensus on what the product needs to be in order to win, then turn our attention to the communication of that unique value proposition to the outside world.

We call that “One Simple Thing,” and I’ll cover it in a later post.

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