Make Great Products – A CEO’s Perspective at being Market Makers rather than just leading in the market

Great products deliver on a singular value proposition in a truly world-class way.

When Jeff Weiner took over as CEO of LinkedIn in 2008, the network had about 32 million members and 338 employees. Today, the professional network site has grown to over 347 million users and over 6000 employees.

Jeff Weiner contributes the remarkable growth in LinkedIn to the creation of “great” products relevant to their customers. Rather than making plans to capture the market lead from competitors, LinkedIn has focused on developing products that make markets.

They have always kept their products relevant to working professionals. By never losing sight of the context of their business, they remained focused on the needs and wants of their target market when expanding the company operations.

Using online networks, you have the ability to leverage virility and know what consumers are sharing and consuming. Keeping the quality of your products high and relevant to your customers distinguishes you from your competition.

Make “great” products

In his search for what a “great” product is, Jeff Weiner came up with five dimensions. One or all of these qualities make a product that outshines the competition.

“Great products deliver on a singular value proposition in a truly world-class way.”

A laser-like focus on doing one thing really well helps the company prioritize. When they aren’t distracted, they can pay all their attention and resources into perfecting that one product. When Google first launched, it entered a world where there were already a lot of search engines, but the founders persevered and focused only on making internet searches great. The Google Homepage featured simple a search bar and eventually overtook the market by a huge margin.

“World class products are simple, intuitive and when they’re really good, they anticipate the customer’s needs.”

Waze is a community-based traffic and navigation app. Users enjoy its simple design and personalization. Based on your past activity, the app understands when you are going home or to work and gives you new information accordingly. Products which make the customers feel like they are being understood creates a strong favorable impression on the user.

“Great products exceeds expectations, no matter how high they are.”

When the product exceeds expectations, it creates a lasting positive impression. Even if that product deteriorates its relevancy over time, the customer will give them the benefit of the doubt and continue using it in hopes that it will regenerate that same great experience and feeling.

“Great products resonate emotionally.”

It’s not just about creating value and utility. It’s about how it makes you feel. A mark of a great product is when you become enthusiastic and passionate about it when you describe it to somebody else. Tesla Motors has the ability to make their customers feel excited about driving a futuristic car.

“All great products have a meaningful impact on your life, changing your life in a positive way.”

Smartphones have dramatically changed people’s lives. People use it for everything; from shopping, communicating, dating, working and so much more. Any person can agree that they love how their iPhone makes everything accessible to them in just a few taps. A great product is one that changes your life.

Project Inversion

LinkedIn has grown from a “resume database” into a social network for professionals. A few years ago, the company pushed the pause button on developing new activities and focused instead on investing in the infrastructure for the back end. They did what was called “project inversion”, where they re-architected the coding of the website to support the inter-dependency and complexity of future projects on a larger scale.

A successful company that has a good business model creates a lot of value and high expectations. Which is why it takes a tremendous amount of courage, conviction and vision to question the company’s initial assumptions which currently work so well.

Startups attempt to strike a balance between moving quickly and staying ahead of their competition. If they get it wrong, it is very hard for the small business to sustain growth and face accruing technical debt.

Focus on what you’re great at

It’s quite natural for a company to branch into new markets, once it has captured a solid portion of its core market. But when companies move into new markets, they invite competition. And that competition may at times be exclusively focused on that category. It’s easier to be ‘great’ at something when you are solely focused on it, versus a company that has a more horizontal focus on different things.

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