Head of Digital
Before you start investing time and money into turning your app dream into digital reality, plan your business case and test the market.
The big question you need to answer is: why are you looking to invest time and effort in creating a digital product – what are you trying to achieve? Whether you’re an established business or a start-up, having a clear purpose is paramount.
Your ‘why?’ will determine whether you win investment and attract the right people to work for you. As Ted Talk superstar Simon Sinek explains, "people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it." So the ‘why?’ should be a defined purpose which guides your decisions and galvanises your delivery teams.
When iCrossing worked with UK leisure centre operator Everyone Active, we focussed our ‘why?’ around a pain point that was costing the operator money and delivering a poor customer experience – both great reasons to build a digital product. We helped to digitise the complex process of parents registering their children for the appropriate swimming lesson, providing a seamless experience that reduced burden on staff (and drove down staff costs) and increased lesson sign-ups.
Next, ensure you have a good understanding of the types of people who might use your product. The more you know about them, the easier it will be to empathise and create better digital experiences to match their needs. Start by defining (or refining) personas of your key types of potential customers.
Ultimately, your product or service should make the customer’s life better to the point that they'd be prepared to pay for it (with money, data or loyalty). This is your value proposition.
The Business Model Canvas (BMC) is a great tool to help you get started. It’s a strategic template that allows you to capture the key parts of your commercial idea on a single page. A BMC is designed to help you avoid the common mistake of overestimating how quickly revenues will be generated, as well as underestimating the costs involved.
It's a living document that will evolve as your digital product evolves, and it'll help you to rapidly define and communicate a business idea or concept. It helps you to crystallise your thoughts, and will prove invaluable when talking to potential financial backers. Focus on learning what the customer is really looking for and why your digital product should matter to them. Capture this within your BMC’s Key Propositions box.
Once your Big Idea is written down, you can start to test your assumptions. This validation process – a combination of research, data gathering and canvassing opinion – will continue throughout fundraising, build, launch and beyond.
There are a number of free-to-use research tools designed to help you uncover customer sentiment – for example, Google Trends, Similar Web and Semrush – but nothing matches the power of speaking to real humans. Use your BMC to help you explain your idea in under five minutes.
It may also be possible to create a basic prototype to communicate your idea. For example, Proto.io is a great tool even if you lack design skills.
Speak to a broad range of people that fit your customer segments (consider using a non-disclosure agreement if you want to be sure that your idea is safeguarded).
Start with friends and family, colleagues and subject matter experts before spending on focus groups. Forging relationships with academics can pay dividends too, spawning in-depth research.
When it comes to securing financial support, try and back up your idea with data. Financial investors will want as many hard facts as possible.
Even at this early stage, you’ll get a feel for what does and what doesn’t resonate. Don’t be afraid to rework the contents of your BMC – the assumptions you've made can (and probably will) be challenged by user testing.
The secret is to test, learn and repeat.
We can help you to identify your product idea and the business rationale behind it. We will focus on sense-checking your approach with practical tips on what to do next.
We’ll draw on our extensive experience of helping clients with raising money, making products, launching, growing a user base and commercialising the product.
Call +44 (0)20 3176 2632 or email Roger Barr to find out more.
We believe that moving too slowly in digital is the biggest risk your business faces. If you are ready to move faster in digital, we are here to help.