Gary Knight, WOLF CEO, explains why this is truer than ever before
In the wake of the global pandemic there is one thing that businesses must do and that is ensuring its product or service fits the market. It sounds so simple, and it is, but it isn’t easy.
The recovery from COVID-19 is going to be the biggest test that many businesses – big and small – will come to face. And while other factors such as confident leadership, is of importance, the greatest asset a business can have in its armour, when facing a period of revival like this, is a robust product to market fit.
In my opinion, this is more important than ever before because products and services may be the same as they were pre COVID, but the consumer has changed. You could have the greatest leader at the helm, investment coming in, but if what the business offers doesn’t meet this ‘new normal’ consumer audience, then it won’t work. Simple.
Have you ever wondered how some businesses seem to enjoy roaring success despite sub-standard leadership and operational management? It isn’t luck. Fast growing start-up stories are abounded by rocketing sales success; yet behind the scenes you could find a chaotic, mad dash business. They succeed despite the lack of careful planning and delivery expertise.
Why? Because their product to market fit is right.
It’s perhaps unfair that on the opposite side, we have businesses that are extremely well run, applying gold standard processes, high level people management, precision metrics and KPIs which all comes together beautifully. Until they present the lack of progress and success against their well-structured forecast and three-year business plans.
Why? Because they were too early to market, too complicated, not agile to changing market behaviour and perhaps up against aggressive competitors. These are all common rhetoric adjoining the board rooms.
I’ve been fortunate – or unfortunate depending which way you look at it – to have experienced both scenarios. I’ve lived through unexpected success that outstripped expectations and I have felt rather grateful. But, I’ve also been part of businesses that on the face of it, get everything right, yet don’t deliver the bottom line growth expected, and in that scenario, I have felt rather frustrated.
With the recent launch of WOLF, The World’s Online Festival, myself and the team have tried to consolidate these learnings and truths. I stand by the fact that your success is fundamentally tied to your product to market fit and I practice what I preach.
Before we considered introducing WOLF, The World’s Online Festival we undertook extensive market research, analysing our data intelligence and looking at our app and the user experience. We knew we had to change.
Our market wanted more than our existing product was giving. We had to expand and it had to be more, well, fun.
We focused on how to bring entertainment and performance into our existing core offering of chat and friendship. Having established the market opportunity, the product group did a fantastic job of delivering a new product experience which we believe and trust will deliver the product to market fit that we seek.
Next came the re-naming, new brand and re-launch superbly constructed by our marketing and design team. Following our successful launch the early signs are extremely positive but we will remain diligent to the market requirements whilst building out those nice KPI metrics as we go.
Whilst putting together these thoughts, the question of what impact Covid-19 will have comes to mind. I don’t believe anyone who can accurately predict exactly what will happen next. However, I’d argue that product to market fit will be even more important than ever before.
Some businesses will do extremely well from this change in lifestyle. Zoom is the most notable example (front of my mind as I head off to my third virtual quiz of the week this evening!). For other businesses, it won’t be such a positive outcome. We have to accept that the marketplace has changed. The customer they knew before the crisis may well have changed, adapted or disappeared.
The best and most agile businesses will respond. They will look at their product and their market and evaluate the fit before they make any changes.
To conclude, in a complicated post Covid-19 world, with so many moving parts to consider, the absolute core principle for any business is simple: ensure the product to market fit is secure. It sounds easy but believe me, it isn’t.