First of all, don’t limit yourself with these generic product development questions like:
Who exactly your client is?
What should be the right price of the product?
What should be the budget and timeline for a product launch?
Which UI/UX trend should we follow?
How to define the scope of market research?
Unlike any other product, a niche product development in the Publishing industry should not only be a hit with its customers but should also be flexible enough to re-engineer according to the changing future requirements like mergers and acquisitions, partnerships etc. It certainly requires a focussed long term strategic approach towards product development. Let us go through these considerations:
1. Future integrations and partnership
When you think of your product, think of its future as well. Your product should be unique and balanced enough to accept any future integrations and collaboration with industry leaders that can resell your product. You must consider all such future opportunities with third party applications and APIs and deliver unique business solutions.
The integration with such companies would require a powerful white label solutions to safeguard their brand identity and the product should be flexible and scalable enough to accommodate such outcome of partnership.
A product that offers no or less scope of integration will stagnate its client’s business and will be soon discarded.
2. Waiting too long for enhancements
A product is always a work-in-progress project that will warrant a continuous effort on the reengineering part. You may have to draw the line somewhere and decide when the product will be launched in the market. You can always keep adding features in the later stage as and when the market demands for. A good way to go about it is by creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) which can easily demonstrate its functionality in a practical manner.
3. Don’t chase perfection
Don’t fall into the trap of making a perfect product that solves every problem. You should ideally aim for a product that solves the biggest pain point of the end user and anything in addition to it should be seen as a bonus feature. Also, you should not let yourself get distracted by stray and passing comments about improving the product. You can release the product based on your basic understanding of its pricing, description, working mechanism and leave the rest to the market to give you the insights for further modification down the line.
4. Engage, convert, retain
A good way to do this is to keep investing in good content generation and instilling a metered model instead of a paywall that considerably deters users from becoming a subscriber.
Another way to engage your customers is to encourage your end users to talk, discuss and debate about your products on public forums and social media. This gives your brand a deeper reach among the target audience which otherwise would have cost you a lot in terms of paid marketing and other brand marketing spends.
By supporting and nurturing such a close knit community you can keep your target audience asking for more and have them coming back to you more frequently and keep converting them to long term customers. Soon this community becomes self sustaining and acts as a pull strategy for your publishing business.
5. Innovation is marketing
Innovation is undeniably the most critical part of product development as well as part of the product team’s mindset. It goes without saying the companies that are perceived as innovative attract more number of customers than their competition. Innovation for these companies means adopting and accepting radical new ways of thinking which might not always look profitable at first but has the potential to give your product a new dimension.
One of the simplest ways to do this is by following the latest Technology and UI/UX trends that are currently popular in the industry. For example, you can clearly figure out how HubSpot has been innovative with its content delivery and translate that in your own marketing strategy and context. Market leaders like Linkedin and Facebook often influence the way people interact with the content (e.g. emojis, like buttons etc.) and if you can take a cue out of their publishing game, you can too easily win over your target audience.
As discussed above a lot of preparation is needed to come up with a successful publishing product development plan and it is important to give attention to the points that affects publishing house’s long term strategy.
We at Ace have helped developed many such products and systems for publishers that in turn has helped them address their customers’ needs and challenges. It is our mission to build a robust and successful products for specialized publishers and as part of this quest to expand our knowledge we often participate in conferences like BIMS 2018 (Fort Lauderdale), and SIPACON June 2019 (Washington DC). These events give us the latest insights about the publishing industry and help us serve the publishers in a more holistic way.