While companies may believe that creating new products is the best way to promote a brand, creating press releases and other newsworthy content should be the starting point. By starting the process with a press release, a company can develop relationships with potential consumers and understand what these customers need before the new product is ready. Amazon executives Colin Bryar and Bill Carr revealed that one of the main reasons for their success is asking what the customer needs and putting them first before creating any of their products.
The Amazon team calls this strategy “working backward.” Working backward involves: drafting a press release announcing the product launch; evaluating the opportunity in the market to see whether it is worth building; discovering solutions and getting stakeholder approval; building a detailed roadmap of the creation process, and only then developing their idea into an actual product.
The strategy of creating a press release
Amazon’s strategy of creating a press release first actually makes much more sense from a business perspective. After all, doing the press release first gives your company’s development team a chance to properly evaluate whether the product or service they want to build offers significant benefits to customers. You need not waste time, energy, and money on product development if the press release announcing the launch isn’t received well. Creating the press release first gives you time to improve on the product or withdraw the product entirely before you’ve spent too much money on it.
While companies are generally not applauded for the endless cycle of product development, it’s easy to forget that those steps are what get you a positive result. Many innovative companies have started working backward to keep their teams focused during the development process. With a press release already done, all teams can refer back to it to ensure that everything they do is delivering what you’ve promised in the draft press release.
What is working backward?
“Working backward” helps you focus on customer needs first. Instead of starting with the technology, you’re forced to consider the advantages the consumer will benefit from as well as the problem your product will solve in their lives. Working backward requires beginning with the final goal in mind and then determining how to get there. It is all about figuring out where your company wants to end up. In order to do this properly, you need to delve into the specifics of what the desired result should be. This could include more sales, happier customers, simpler processes. Identifying your goals helps you to figure out what features the product needs to reach those goals, and what success looks like.
Some of the best and most innovative product teams work backward so that they can have a more efficient and focused product development process. When you work backward you can look back at the goals you defined in the beginning and evaluate whether the results have met these goals. This way, no member of your company will have any questions about whether the final product meets expectations.
Having a press release done and waiting beforehand provides clear guidelines for product development and a list of things to look for during product testing. It gives the sales and marketing team a headstart on promoting the product to potential consumers. This approach also helps with prioritization; if a specific step does not move your product to the end game, it takes a backseat while priority is given to the steps that will help you satisfy customers and deliver value accordingly.
How to implement the “working backward” method
1) Start with a press release
As mentioned previously, the working backward strategy has become a favorite among many product development teams and thought leaders. Traditionally, a press release is the last step of any product launch process. This is because it typically highlights what you’ve done, and why consumers should care.
In order to work backward effectively, the writer of your press release should step back from the business jargon associated with the industry and communicate the brand message in terms that an average customer can understand. If you can avoid bragging about your shiny new widgets and the software you’ve used, then the focus of your press release will shift to highlight the unique solution you’re providing for the customer.
According to Amazon’s Ian McAllister, if a press release is difficult to write, the product may not succeed in the market. Creating a press release can be a struggle. Even so, perfecting your press release is an important part of the process. After all, a product launch press release is designed to explain to the public why they should care about the product that you’ve spent months working on.
How a PR agency can help
We know that product development is a handful without adding press release writing to the list of things you need to do. If you need help with this, you should consider hiring a PR agency that can help you create a compelling and newsworthy press release. Pressfarm is one such PR agency whose team of experts has extensive experience helping brands from different industries generate publicity and draw in more customers.
This team of PR professionals, expert writers, and certified designers can help you create a winning press release. This is in addition to helping you write compelling email pitches, develop engaging guest posts, and design creative press kits. With all this content, you can make a memorable impression for your brand in your industry.
With a selection of PR packages, Pressfarm also guides clients through the best way to distribute this content and get it in front of the right eyes. This strategy works whether you’re distributing it through media outlets or through your owned media channels. The team at Pressfarm has what it takes to boost your online visibility. Ultimately, working with Pressfarm will help your brand feature in relevant search results across different search engines.
2) Conduct a pre-mortem
Usually, companies will conduct a post-mortem to learn from past mistakes and successes in previous projects. In this way, they can perform better the next time. The goal of a pre-mortem is to anticipate any unforeseen situations that your product team might encounter during the development and marketing process. Pre-mortem sessions generally begin by brainstorming every potential issue that could arise during product development. These include everything from total market rejection to compromised user data, sluggish performance, and inability to scale. Once you can establish your biggest risks, you can start thinking of how to mitigate those risks. Realistically, you may not be able to stop every threat from happening. Nevertheless, you can still figure out how to develop an effective crisis management plan that reduces the potential impact of all these problems.
While this may seem unnecessary, this research method does work better than traditional research methods. This is because it forces your company to think in a more focused manner about actionable solutions to potential problems. In addition, this strategy forces you to carefully consider what actions you are willing to take and those which you will not take. Once you’ve understood this, the market research team can focus on creating research and content to study the receptiveness of potential customers. Your market research team can also think about how your final decisions as a company support your overall goals.
3) Post on startup directories
Similar to the press release tactic, posting on startup directories requires development teams to identify their end goals and work backward from there. Companies use startup directories to try and get initial promotions for their product and achieve online visibility. These are the best places for you to post about your brand, product, or service to gain feedback, early adopters, and press coverage. There are many platforms and websites that help startups to engage with their target consumers, gain further product validation, and reach product/market fit faster. Ultimately, submitting your startup to startup directories can be a powerful growth hacking technique.
Product Hunt is an excellent example of a platform that allows companies to build buzz and traffic from early adopters. When creating a Product Hunt page, you need to briefly introduce your company. You also need to highlight the team behind it, and the problem that your product or service is designed to solve. Furthermore, you need to explain the value proposition and what the use case is. It’s also important to highlight who the product is designed for, and why you decided to build it. With a Product Hunt page, you can gain consensus in the company and inspire your team during the product development process. A Product Hunt profile needs to be concise in addition to focusing on the customer experience and value proposition. As a result, this is an excellent resource to use if you want to work backward.
4) Worry less about the competition
It is often easy to focus on how to beat the competition through quality offerings like low prices or flashy marketing. Instead, it is better to focus on the customer’s needs. Qualities like excellent customer service, easy interactions, and easy navigation are important. Even so, companies that position themselves to offer the best CX are generally the ones that succeed.
Benefits of working backward
1) Builds empathy
Brands that work backward are generally more empathic than those that don’t. In general, they have a far more profound grasp of the customer’s wants. They’re also more likely to understand the context in which they interact with their product or service.
As a result, customers are more likely to experience a sense of affection for a brand. This leads to higher conversion rates and a larger audience.
2) Effectively communicates the value of a product
Showing rather than telling is one of the most fundamental skills a writer or marketer can acquire. This is true for product descriptions and primary brand copy. It’s also essential to keep this in mind while developing a CX strategy.
When you consider why a product is essential rather than merely what it is, you can put yourself in your customer’s shoes. As a result, the benefits of the product or service in question will be very clear to you.
3) Creates loyalty
A final advantage of working backward is boosting customer loyalty and retention. You can develop an emotional connection with an audience rather than a strictly transactional or functional one by demonstrating more awareness of the customer’s requirements and pain points.
Instead of picking a brand based on logic or a functional need, shoppers may do so based on the brand’s overall values or a stronger sense of affinity for it.
Regardless of how you choose to “work backward,” creating a press release or doing your research with potential customers in mind is what will make product development more successful. It’s important to truly understand what customers want and need before beginning to work on anything. In this way, you can create a product that truly matters to these customers, giving the final product a better chance at success.