SaaS company founders are people who often wear many hats at once. Marketers, designers, developers, project managers, customer support officers… But also visionaries.
When you create a SaaS product, you usually have an idea of what you want it to become. What you want your customers to experience when using your product, what you want your employees to envision the next time they tackle a Jira card.
And while having this idea “somewhere out there” is good, there’s a better alternative - creating a product vision. Today, we’ll show you what a SaaS product vision is and how you can easily create one yourself.
What is a product vision statement?
A product vision statement is a sentence (or a few) describing what kind of problem your product solves, in which way, and for which target audience. It’s not just a description of where you are at the moment - it is rather an aspiration of where you want to be in a certain time period, which is where the vision part comes from.
Your product vision influences all the important and not-so-important decisions you make as a company and as such, it’s one of the most important elements of building a successful product and motivating both your team and your customers.
Why do you need a product vision?
There’s a multitude of reasons why having a product vision is a good idea. Primarily, you want to align your entire team around a common goal. With so many different departments (development, design, marketing, etc.) working on chunks of a product, it can be hard to feel that you’re working towards one goal. A product vision will give you just that - a common thread that binds your whole team.
Moreover, you’ll gain confidence as a startup founder or a product manager. Every time you face a difficult choice, you can refer to your product vision and see exactly which path to take.
You’ll find it much easier to set goals and stick to your promises with a product vision. While it won’t replace a dedicated project manager, it will make it easier to follow through on the promises you make to your management, and most importantly, your customers.
Principles of a great product vision statement
Every product vision should fulfill a couple of things in order to engage both your team and your customers. When creating your product vision, it needs to:
There is no product without customers. Each product vision needs to stick to a larger company vision, but at the same time, needs to be heavily based on customer feedback. Make sure to collect feedback in the shape of interviews, surveys, audio chats, feedback boards, roadmap comments, and everything you can get your hands on.
Set optimistic goals
When setting goals for your product vision, you need to be just a tad bit optimistic. Say that you can realistically shoot for a 10% market increase in one year. Set your goal at 20% - just slightly above what you know you can achieve. That way, you’ll have to push harder and come up with new ways to crush that goal.
Why would customers choose you in a sea of competition? Nowadays, having more/better features is no longer enough. Think of other ways to be different: better customer support, superior onboarding, better product templates or something else that isn’t features or price.
A Quality Product Vision statement should be…
All of the following things:
It tells the story of who you are and what you do, but most importantly, of what you want to become. It inspires your team to work towards a certain goal but gives them freedom in finding the best way to achieve it.
While a product vision isn’t a detailed set of instructions for each team member, it should provide general guidelines on what your goals are and how to achieve them.
Despite being rooted in something as abstract as a vision, a good product vision statement needs to give your team general instructions on which direction to take.
Linked to corporate goals
Corporate may have different ideas about the product compared to your own team. Where they will be interested in growing revenue and expanding into new markets, the product team may be more interested in creating a better product-market fit, increasing retention or something else. Make sure your product vision is aligned with the overarching corporate goals.
You’ll have a hard time aligning your entire team around a common goal if it doesn’t have a clear purpose. For example, reducing churn by 30% is a good purpose and you can wrap that around a vision that looks better on paper.
How to Create a Meaningful Product Vision
Whether you’re a seasoned veteran in the SaaS world or just thinking of launching a product, you may need some tips on creating a great product vision. Here are some great places to get started.
Describe the Product's purpose
In a sentence or two, explain what the product should achieve. You can find examples of this on websites of big SaaS brands, without digging deep into research. A few good examples include:
Invision: Online whiteboard meets productivity platform
Close: All-in-one CRM for growing sales teams
Canva: Canva. Design for everyone.
Monday: A platform built for a new way of working.
Granted, your product purpose should be a bit more specific, but these are some great starting points to get you inspired.
Note that your product purpose messaging does not have to be the same internally and on your customer-facing marketing materials - as is the case with the examples above. For example, you'd have different messages on your homepage and your podcast.
Differentiate between Product Strategy and Product Vision
Product strategy is something that a product manager creates - a list of actionable steps to take in order to get to the product vision. It is super practical in nature and it can be broken down into tasks for your development team. A product vision is just a goal, without any guidelines attached to it.
Involve others and share the vision
Product vision works when everyone in your company is involved in it. If your leadership team creates the product vision on their own and just presents it to the rest of the team, things may not work out that well. It’s better to keep everyone in the loop as you work on the vision together.
Keep it short
A product vision isn’t a whitepaper on how your product stands out compared to the competition. Keep it a few hundred words long at most so it’s easy to read and understand.
Use it to guide decisions
As a product manager or owner, you’ll often have to make difficult choices and prioritize features and your team’s time and workload. Your product vision should be a clear guideline every time you reach a fork in the road. Does it align with the product vision? If yes, we build it.
Use an Empathy Map
An empathy map is a great way to envision how your customers feel, which can help you create a superb product vision. Together with your team, think of the ways your customers may feel as they start using your product.
A lot of times, the way you think and communicate about your product is completely different from what your customers think. An empathy map is a great exercise that forces your team to think outside the box and give you new ideas for your product vision.
For many product managers, a product vision is something nice to have rather than a necessity. However, it’s actually a great way to motivate your team and give them something to aspire to as they build a product that customers will love using as much as they enjoy building it.
Are you looking for something to help you create a better product vision? There is no better place to get started than a product roadmap! Try FeedBear today for free and give your customers the experience they deserve!