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Product strategy: a guide to core concepts and processes

Jul 10

8 min read

The success of any commercial project is heavily dependent on a well-executed product strategy. Understanding the nuances of product strategy helps organizations create offerings that are competitive, deliver exceptional customer experiences, and flexible enough to pivot and evolve to keep up with today's dynamic business landscape.

This comprehensive guide delves into the essential elements of product strategy, its importance for startups and established organizations, and how it contributes to long-term growth. We also examine the top healthcare product strategy trends shaping the industry in 2023 and common pitfalls to avoid when planning your own.

Understanding Product Strategy

A product strategy refers to the comprehensive plan outlining what your company seeks to achieve with a product or feature. This plan covers the product's creation, its impact on customers, and how it contributes to your organization's objectives. A well-crafted product strategy steers your product's conceptualization, development, and market introduction, ensuring alignment among different teams and providing a reference point for decision-making. A strong product strategy ultimately creates a roadmap to the final product.

Essential Elements of a Product Strategy

A product strategy typically consists of three main components: market vision, product objectives, and product initiatives.

Market Vision

Market vision mainly deals with two aspects: the intended audience and the business opportunity. It outlines your plans for product positioning and how it will be differentiated from competitors. Your vision should also clarify how you will provide a competitive solution that addresses customers' needs. To create a useful market vision, consider the following steps:

  • Identify your target demographic.
  • Define your product's distinctive positioning.
  • Evaluate your competition and their offerings.
  • Determine how your product outperforms competitors in resolving customer issues.

Product Objectives

Product objectives are quantifiable, time-sensitive targets that enable you to evaluate the effectiveness of your strategy. An objective addresses one particular goal you want to achieve in support of your project, and it includes a concrete method for tracking progress. For instance, you might aim for a 97% customer retention rate or $50 million+ in revenue within three years. Establishing transparent and attainable product objectives is crucial for the triumph of your product strategy.

Product Initiatives

Product initiatives contextualize your specific objectives by emphasizing broader aspects of your product strategy. An initiative describes your organization's high-level priorities and long-term goals, usually extending across the entire product life cycle. Unlike an objective, an initiative requires complex planning and the engagement of multiple stakeholders. Many teams use objectives as the foundation for their initiatives, resulting in a well-rounded product strategy.

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Developing a winning product strategy

To devise a strong product strategy, a product team should:

  • Define a clear, high-level vision for building the product.
  • Pinpoint a problem the product can resolve.
  • Determine a group of target users to concentrate on addressing the issue.
  • Ascertain how to differentiate the product from those of competitors.
  • Establish business objectives.
  • Adjust or alter the strategy based on feedback.

Why every brand needs a solid product strategy

In today's competitive market, having a compelling and well-executed product strategy is essential for brands to thrive. A solid product strategy sets the product up for a successful start and helps build brand identity and customer loyalty. Let’s explore how product strategy contributes to long-term growth.

Aligning the organization's efforts

A solid product strategy is a compass for the entire organization, ensuring all teams are working toward the same goals. By providing a clear roadmap, a product strategy helps to streamline the decision-making process and prevents teams from working in silos. This internal alignment is crucial for efficient resource allocation and avoiding miscommunication or missteps in product development.

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Focusing on target customers and their needs

A well-crafted product strategy helps brands identify their target customers and understand their needs and preferences. By focusing on the right customer segments, brands can tailor their products to optimize user experience. This customer-centric approach allows brands to create products that resonate with their audience, leading to higher satisfaction rates and customer loyalty.

Differentiating from competitors

In an increasingly crowded marketplace, differentiation is critical to standing out from the competition. A solid product strategy helps brands identify their unique selling points and capitalize on their strengths. By offering products that stand out from the competition, brands can capture the attention of potential customers and build a loyal customer base.

Driving innovation

A strong product strategy encourages innovation by continuously pushing brands to evaluate and improve their products. This process of constant iteration helps brands stay ahead of the curve and adapt to changing market conditions. Innovation is essential for long-term success, allowing brands to maintain their competitive edge and attract new customers.

Setting measurable goals and tracking progress

A product strategy includes clear and measurable goals essential for tracking progress and evaluating success. These goals allow brands to gauge their efforts' effectiveness, identify improvement areas, and make informed decisions to refine their strategy. By setting targets and monitoring progress, brands can ensure they are on track to achieving their desired results.

Facilitating long-term growth

A solid product strategy helps brands make informed decisions that contribute to long-term growth. Brands can build a sustainable competitive advantage by focusing on the right features, customers, and differentiation factors. A well-executed product strategy also helps brands cultivate a loyal customer base and a strong brand identity, further contributing to long-term success.

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Top healthcare product strategy trends in 2023

Today’s product strategy trends in healthcare offer unique opportunities to improve patient experiences, enhance treatment efficacy, and optimize resource allocation, ultimately contributing to a more efficient and effective healthcare system.

1. Patient-centric design

Today’s successful health tech design focuses on understanding and addressing the needs and preferences of patient users, creating products that are easy to use, accessible, and tailored to their unique requirements. By prioritizing patient satisfaction and comfort, healthcare companies can enhance patient engagement, improve treatment adherence, and drive better health outcomes.

2. Personalized medicine

Personalized medicine is an emerging product strategy that aims to tailor medical treatments to individual patients based on their genetic makeup, lifestyle, and environmental factors. This approach uses advanced diagnostics, data analytics, and targeted therapies to provide customized care. Personalized medicine can lead to improved patient outcomes, reduced side effects, and more efficient use of healthcare resources.

3. Telemedicine and remote patient monitoring

Telemedicine and remote patient monitoring have gained significant traction in recent years, particularly spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. This product strategy involves leveraging digital technologies like video conferencing and mobile health apps to provide healthcare services remotely. Telemedicine can improve access to care, particularly for patients in rural areas or those with mobility issues. Remote patient monitoring can also help healthcare providers track patients' health and intervene early if needed, leading to better outcomes and reduced hospitalizations.

4. Integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)

AI and ML technologies can transform the healthcare industry by enabling more accurate diagnoses, predictive analytics, and personalized treatment recommendations. Healthcare companies can leverage AI and ML to develop products that improve clinical decision-making, optimize resource allocation, and enhance patient care. For example, AI-powered radiology tools can help radiologists identify abnormalities in medical images with greater accuracy and speed, leading to faster diagnoses and more targeted treatments.

5. Interoperability and data integration

Interoperability and data integration involve seamless patient data exchange between different healthcare systems, providers, and applications. This product strategy aims to create a connected ecosystem that enables healthcare professionals to access and share patient information easily, improving collaboration and decision-making. Companies can develop products, such as Electronic Health Records (EHR) systems and Health Information Exchanges (HIE), that facilitate data sharing and streamline workflows, ultimately enhancing patient care and reducing administrative burdens.

6. Value-based care

Value-based care is a product strategy focusing on improving patient outcomes while reducing healthcare costs. This approach shifts the focus from volume-based care, where providers are reimbursed for the number of services provided, to outcome-based care, where providers are incentivized to deliver high-quality, cost-effective care. Healthcare companies can develop products and solutions that help providers measure patient outcomes, track performance metrics, support treatment compliance, and identify areas for improvement, ultimately driving better care at lower costs.

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Pitfalls to avoid when planning your healthcare product strategy

Product strategy missteps can derail project progress, waste resources, and create confusion within your organization. Here are some common pitfalls in healthcare strategic planning (and how to avoid them):

1. Confusing operational KPIs with strategic KPIs

When developing your strategic plan, it is essential to distinguish between operational and strategic Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Operational KPIs are important for daily operations, but they may not significantly impact your overall strategy. Ensure your chosen KPIs align with your strategic goals to provide valuable insights and drive success.

2. Overloading on metrics

Healthcare professionals often have a penchant for metrics, but tracking too many can be counterproductive. Focus on the most critical metrics that will impact your strategy and avoid information overload, which could lead to lengthy meetings, unread reports, and loss of focus on key priorities.

3. Overburdening the strategy team

The strategy department should be dedicated to planning and executing your organization's initiatives, objectives, and support action items. Avoid assigning non-strategy-related tasks to this team so that they can stay focused on ensuring that day-to-day work supports progress towards high-level goals (see pitfall #1 above).

4. Failing to secure support from the outset

Gaining buy-in from key stakeholders is crucial for the success of your strategic plan. Involve high-level personnel from the beginning to ensure alignment, clear priorities, and access to necessary resources. This will help prevent discord and confusion within the organization.

5. Setting ambiguous or unrealistic goals

Poorly defined or impossible goals can lead to failure in strategic planning. Be specific and realistic about your goals, timelines, and resource requirements. Consult with relevant teams and department heads to ensure they have the resources and clear objectives to succeed.

6. Unclear roles and responsibilities

It’s essential to formally define project roles and responsibilities, especially when digital product agencies collaborate with healthcare professionals to create solutions. Establish clear expectations and communication channels to ensure that all stakeholders are kept in the loop about timelines, expectations, and deliverables.

Final thoughts

A well crafted and executed product strategy is vital for any brand's success and long term growth, especially in the rapidly evolving healthcare industry. By understanding and implementing the essential elements of product strategy, aligning organizational efforts, focusing on target customers, and embracing innovative trends, organizations can differentiate themselves from competitors and create a lasting impact on the market.

As you embark on your healthcare product strategy journey, consider partnering with an experienced digital product agency that specializes in digital healthcare products and innovation. This expertise creating software for the healthcare space can provide valuable insights for developing and executing a winning product strategy for your organization.


Steve Ransom

In an organization renowned for astute insights, Senior Product Manager Steve Ransom specializes in unconventional ideas and lobs them from way outside the box in deep left field. He’s an annoyingly persistent advocate for continuous discovery, rapid prototyping, and frequent customer interviews. A Certified Scrummaster, his specialties include outcome and product curation, creative direction, writing, editing, marketing, publishing, and data analysis.

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