Build for one, Scale for many

A year ago, I attended a live AMA session with the Notion team in Paris. It profoundly changed my perspective on product development.

There were lots of questions about how they build and prioritise new features. They kept answering that they first focus on a specific use case and only then they think about what can be improved in that particular use case.

Even though I liked this idea, I must confess, for the last year, I did not approach product development that way.

I kept deploying new generic "cool" features thinking that it will unlock and improve existing use cases while hoping that my user is creative enough to use those features for their specific use cases.

But I get it now, this is just not how things work. I really think Notion hit the spot with this. This way of building a product urges you to focus on the job to be done and how easy it can be done.

Your user needs to be told what he's missing out. And how your product can help him.

Your user wants step-by-step tutorial on how to do X with your product.

Your user needs inspiration. He needs to be told how others are succeeding with your product.

So, let's take a step further. What if, instead of focusing on a use-case, you'd focus on a single user?

From this insight, I've distilled a two-part formula for product-led businesses. I honestly think that if you follow this, you just can't loose:

1. Product development

  1. Get in the shoes of your dream client.
    1. List one of his problem
    2. Internalize his context.
    3. List all the tools he/his company uses.
  2. Ask yourself "How would he uses my product to fix his problem".
  3. Experience your product as if you were the client, adjusting and enhancing it to address any encountered obstacles or gaps.
  4. For every bit of friction or missing feature you encounter along the way, implement it right now.
  5. Well done, your product capability and UX significantly improved.

2. Marketing

  1. Reach out to that client you focused on and show them your work. There is a good chance she will be impressed because that’s not a generic mass email thing you send her. It’s 100% tailor made, you really considered their challenges.
  2. Use this experience as a case studies on your docs or website.
  3. Announce new features created during that experiment on your social media.
  4. Go back to product development.

This methodology not only aligns product development with user needs but also ensures marketing efforts are deeply personalized and impactful.

By building it for one, you scaled it for many others.