Undoubtedly, the most challenging part of any new product launch is it’s beginning. When you realize that it is not working, you will be spending too much time iterating or molding the experience to fix the issues. It’s good to know all possible scenarios when it comes to product launch ahead of time so you know how to react.

Understanding Product Death Cycle

David Bland, a management consultant from San Francisco tweeted a diagram that explains this whole concept in detail. No wonder they say a picture is worth a thousand words! The figure he posted illustrates this entire process in three circles that are interconnected and form a never-ending cycle.  The three circles represent the following actions that we take when a product is not working:

  1. No one uses the product.
  2. Check with customers to know what features are missing.
  3. Build or Develop new features.

But, this cycle is never ending unless we put in some efforts to find the core issues and fix them. It is imperative for you to understand each step of this cycle. Understand why this process is repeating even when you make some changes. And then present a list of questions or proposals that will allow you to escape from this cycle.

1. No One Uses the Product

Now, this is the natural state of any product in the market that is not being utilized by the user. There is no problem with this in itself. But the way you handle this particular problem can launch you into the product death cycle.

2. Check With Customers to Know What Features Are Missing

One of the biggest mistakes that you can make as a startup is to become user-led when developing a product rather than placing emphasis on product vision. If you are approaching customers with the question, “What are the features that are missing?”, the problems that are in this approach is explained in detail below.

Things to Ponder

It is essential for you to understand the fact that there are so many more non-users of the product that you have than the ones that are using it. So the features that you are going to bring or modify will benefit only the group of individuals that love using your product. Because of this, the features that they are requesting to add may not be the one that will attract a larger customer base.

  • The best way to fix a design problem is by doing user research. But you should not expect the users to come up with their design solutions. You should never forget the fact that it is your job to come up with design solutions. It is possible for users to get stuck in a particular concept or assumptions. And they may not be able to come up with their solutions as they may not have all the necessary tools and skills.
  • You might be utterly wrong if you are assuming that your product did not find success because it does not have an ample amount of features in it. Features are not the main reason why a product fails most of the time. There are countless other reasons that might be affecting your product. The pricing of the product can also make a significant impact. Or it may be because you are not taking care to market it well. Others factors such as broken activation or poor presentation can derail a product launch. The wrong positioning can also adversely affect your product. Take time to research and identify those elements that are causing your product to fail.

Question Yourself

Before jumping to the conclusion that something is missing from the product, it is imperative for you to ask yourselves, ‘What are some reasons why users not using a certain product?’ You should not forget we are living in the days when you can lose almost 80% of active users in 30 days. And there are many reasons why you can observe this kind of bounce rate. Analyzing this is essential if you want them to get into deep engagement with features.

3. Building the Missing Features

Now, we can term this as the second jump in the product death cycle.  Building up the features that customers think are lacking is not a good idea. It is a wrong assumption that more customers would like to buy your product when you add a new feature.

You should not forget that, as discussed above, you are going to encounter an amazing drop off after the first interaction of users with your product. Building new features is not going to make an impact on the result either.

Breaking Out of Cycle

The product death cycle is quite a tricky thing. Though the right intentions drive your strategy, you get stuck. Taking the time to listen to customers and building something they need is not the wrong approach. All the people who are in the product death cycle think that they are doing the right things. It’s necessary for you to remember that it takes more than good intentions to get things on track. Questioning numerous times will help you realize the cause behind the lack of growth.

Things such as marketing, positioning, distribution, content marketing, PR, and pricing can affect the product. Sometimes, building a utilitarian product may be of benefit to your company rather than a network-based product. Always tailor your solution to the root-cause to move toward success instead of getting caught up in added features.