Competitor analysis is a helpful and common technique for product managers and product owners. But when you compare your product to the competition, it can be tempting to say: “Our product must provide all the standard features but be better and offer more!” Unfortunately, this can lead to an overly complex product that takes a lot of time and money to develop and that offers a vague value proposition and a poor user experience. The trick is not to blindly copy features but rather to explore which ones you can eliminate. This article shows you how to do it.
A great tool to determine the features of your product and to discover opportunities to eliminate some is the Eliminate-Reduce-Raise-Create grid. The grid, which forms part of the Blue Ocean Strategy, encourages you to identify features, which your product does not provide and which it provides to a lesser extend or in an inferior way compared to alternatives. It also helps you identify new and improved features. The grid consists of four quadrants that give it its name: Eliminate, Reduce, Raise, and Create.
Let’s take a look at an example and apply the grid to the first iPhone, which was launched in 2007.
As the picture above shows, the first iPhone eliminated a number of smartphone features that were considered a standard or must-have back in 2007. These included different models to choose from, a physical keyboard and a stylus to write on the screen. Additionally, it reduced a number of features such as the voice and the camera quality and the email integration (no POP and no Exchange support), which its competitors excelled in.
But the iPhone also provided enhanced and genuinely new features as shown in the “Raise” and “Create” quadrants above. These include mobile Internet in form of the Safari browser, integrating the iPod with a mobile phone, a brand-new eye-catching design, and a revolutionary touch screen. Removing and weakening features helped Apple reduce time-to-market, resulted in an uncluttered, easy to use product, and made the product stand out.
Before you decide which features you are going to remove or reduce, ensure that you have a solid understanding of your target group and the problem your product solves or the benefit it provides. You will also benefit from a good portion of courage. It’s always easier to create a me-too product than to do something different. But “innovation is not about saying yes to everything. It’s about saying no to all but the most crucial features,” as Steve Jobs once said.
You can learn more about successfully differentiating your product and using the Eliminate-Reduce-Raise-Create grid by attending my product strategy training course. Please contact me if you want me to deliver the workshop onsite or as an interactive webinar.