Yesterday’s post, Your Startup’s Top 3 Priorities, was a huge success with just about 11,000 page views. It spurred conversations both on this blog and hacker news. There were several interesting points that I’d like to highlight.
First, I learned both Zynga and LinkedIn plan products the way I described.
Jack Chou, a great friend who was head of monetization at LinkedIn, commented:
When I started at LinkedIn, the team framed everything through a lens of (essentially) the same pillars: Growth, Engagement, Monetization.
Alan Wells, game producer for the iPhone version of Live Poker, said:
At Zynga, we called it the 3R’s: Reach, Retention, Revenue. Same idea – all initiatives and features on the roadmap had to be considered through the lens of how it would impact one or more of those things.
Of course, Zynga and LinkedIn are freemium businesses though they serve very different markets: consumer gaming vs recruiters. In the HackerNews comments, mberning asked a great follow-up question:
Seems focused on ad-based or freemium business models. Would like to know his thoughts on top 3 priorities for a company selling product directly.
I work with 2 companies who sell directly, one in ecommerce and one selling paid subscription services through a telesales team. Both companies also think about their business strategy in the Distribution, Engagement, Monetization framework. I don’t think the sales model impacts priorities. The goal of a company is to product, fill the funnel of users, drive user engagement and then ask their customers to pay. Some may defer the last point for a while, but from Path to MapR, the priorities of the companies are the same.
However, the tactics to achieve that strategy vary widely. For example, distribution might come through direct sales teams, SEM/SEO, channel partners, mobile applications, TV/mass media ads, viral growth and so on.
Next, there was a debate about the relative importance of the three priorities. Yoseph wrote:
You don’t really get a sense for engagement until your product is being used on a large scale. That’s the true test for engagement. That’s why distribution should come first.
I agree completely. Of course every product will have a small beta or pilot in which you should be measuring engagement and evaluating whether the product works before building distribution. But after that, increasing the user base is priority #1. Those users will provide you the data to refine the product to better serve the needs of the customers and eventually reduce churn.
A few asked whether I consider managing churn as part of engagement. Yes, they go hand in hand.
Lastly, brunohq opined:
It seems an interesting exercise to do, and keeps you aware of your long-term achievements. Focused and aware. I’ll definitely try that
That’s the goal: inform and inspire everyone to pursue the same clear goals, monitor and gauge your performance, fix what didn’t work, and move to the next target. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. The timing of board meetings should match this cycle.
Thanks to everyone who participated in the conversation and read the article. And in particular, thanks to Bill Ferrell, founder of Embark, who inspired my to change the way I blog. Thanks, Bill!