How to find Product-Market fit ? - A summary

August 25, 2020

Is my product providing value to my customers ?
Am I targeting the right audience ?
How can I reach PMF ?

When running a product, one of the most important things to pay attention to is Product/Market fit. Marc Andreessen describes it as the fact of being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.

Without validating product-market fit, you can’t know if what you’re building is providing value to a large enough market. Which makes it risky to continue investing because your product might not be viable.

Knowing about product-market fit is easy, but the hard part is knowing how to get there and when we're there.

In a blog post, Rahul Vohra, the founder and CEO of Superhuman, described an “engine” to find product/market fit. In this article, I tried to summarize the main ideas and highlight the main steps of his framework.

In order to design the roadmap that will lead us to product/market fit, we first need to answer these 3 questions :

  • Who are your high-expectation customers ?

  • What main benefits are they seeking ?

  • What are your missing features ?

Now, here is how to answer these 3 questions and design your product/market fit roadmap:

Start a survey with your existing (and active) customers and ask them the following questions:

  1. How would you feel if you could no longer use 'Product name'?
    • Very disappointed • Somewhat disappointed • Not disappointed
  2. What type of people do you think would most benefit from 'Product name'?
  3. What is the main benefit you receive from 'Product name'?
  4. How can we improve 'Product name' for you?
Analyze the results, If more than 40% of your users would feel very disappointed without your product, Congratulations 🏆, you've reached product market fit. - See this blog post by Sean Ellis
Create categories for your respondents depending on what's relevant to your business. It can be the occupation of your respondents (CEO, manager, product manager, freelance, teacher ...).
Label the survey answers with these categories.

Now, select the categories that maximize the very disappointed response rate and minimize the Somewhat disappointed and Not disappointed response rates.

Let's focus on the group that would be Very disappointed without your product. These are the customers which get the most value from your product. Analyzing their answers to questions 2 and 3 will give us valuable insights.
Answers to question 2 - What type of people do you think would most benefit from 'Product name'? by customers that get the most value from our product will give us a description of our target market with words that resonate with them. These are our High expectations customers . You can use these descriptions in your marketing materials.
Answers to question 3 - What is the main benefit you receive from 'Product name'? will reveal the main benefits that make our customers stay. You can use a word cloud tool on the answers to immediately see the important benefits (Example tool)
In order to find our missing features, we need to analyze the answers to question 4 - How can we improve 'Product name' for you? from the group of people who like our product, and understand its benefits but have a blocker or are annoyed by something. How can we find these people ? We need to look at answers of customers that were Somewhat disappointed to lose the product (question 1) AND used the same words to describe the benefits of the product (question 3) as those who were Very disappointed.
Now that we have all this information about our main benefits and our missing features, we can start making our Roadmap toward product-market fit. Rahul's advice is to spend half your time doubling down on what your customers already love and half the time on missing features.
Do not stop here ! Iterate and keep interrogating your new customers while following the evolution of your new metric, which is the rate of customers that would be very disappointed without your product.

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I write about cloud and software architectures.

Hi, I'm Hassen. I'm a Product engineer based in Paris 🇫🇷. I'm currently building data products at YOOI.