The making of a great product.

Will Talbot, Head of Non-Regulated Products (NRP) at Ignition Group, has a track record of delivering products and services that offer both the customer and the company significant value, but what are the factors that he believes makes a great product ‘sticky’?
4 minutes
Ignition Group - Will Talbot making a great product

Ignition Group’s NRP division has created and operate 27 products and we see each interaction with our customers as an opportunity to influence long-term retention. But before bringing the spotlight to our own products it’s sometimes beneficial to look at other industry leaders and their examples of success.

Every month over 450 million people actively use Spotify. Of those, over 210 million pay a monthly subscription for the premium version, and many of these are loyal ‘sticky’ customers with no plans to ever leave the service. I personally signed up for Spotify right at the start in 2011 and I’ve never missed a payment, and probably never will. So what insights can be gleaned from Spotify’s success and applied to the creation of services and products?

It may be an entirely digital product, but Spotify feels like it was made by humans for humans. Because of this, there is a personality there as well as hyper-personalisation – yes, their algorithms contain thousands of lines of code but everything from the playlist descriptions to the cover art and interface layout clearly demonstrate the personal touch that iTunes Music traditionally lacked.

Augment Behaviour, Don’t Change It
At Ignition, we took this model and applied it when launching PEEQ – our digital magazine service that offers subscribers thousands of magazine titles on their smartphone or tablet. Readers these days chop and change and flit between articles, apps and tabs. Very seldom, if ever, do we open an online news website and read each article from top to bottom. So when we digitised thousands of magazines, we needed to give the modern user a way to consume them as they expected on the internet and not cover to cover.

Peeq supports this – not only with the amount of fresh content on it every month, but also in that you can read one article, then change to another, then come back to the first and it will remember where you are. It caters for our busy lives and shortened attention spans. It’s the perfect product for the modern lifestyle, where more and more moments are expected to be filled with up-to-date personalised content and entertainment.

Always be Ready to Scale
Spotify is available in over 180 countries, with over half a billion users. It’s the ultimate example of a product being scalable across regions and languages, and this is something that we aspire to when designing our products. Fix My Tech is a product of ours that’s scalable internationally because the core product is applicable to a broad spectrum of users across boarders – whoever you are, wherever you may be, at some point your tech fails you.

Essentially, we offer around-the-clock unlimited remote IT support to your whole household. So if your TV, laptop, phone is baffling you or not playing the game, you can phone in and speak to a live technician who will resolve the issue for you. Because it’s a 24/7 product, it caters for all time zones, so there is no difference in servicing someone from Santa Monica, Croydon or Durban. It’s a great product at its core, and it is applicable to markets around the world, making it scalable and therefore profitable.

“Yeah, but how can you make money from that?”
This is the golden phrase you want to hear when pitching a new product to a partner or stakeholder in the organisation. Potential customers need to ideally see our products as too good to not sign up. A great example of a product like this is Gap Cover – it offers incredible value, and people are always asking how it can afford to pay such high claims when the monthly premium is so cheap when compared to medical aid.

Our home-maintenance product, Safebase, is just like that – for one monthly payment under R200 you get countless services that add up to thousands of rands in savings every year. When you need help around the house, Safebase will arrange for either a plumber, electrician, service technician or locksmith to make sure your home stays your sanctuary, rather than a place of panic. The call-out fee and first hour of labour is free. It’s incredible value, which is why customers often ask us that golden question.

What can you do uniquely?
When Spotify came onto the scene, it was unique – it offered more music than you could ever listen to, either for free on the ad-supported model or for a low monthly subscription. It ultimately led to the end of piracy as well as of CD sales.

When we in Ignition’s product division look at new products, we often start with, “What can Ignition do uniquely?” Ignition is unique in its breadth of scope, from sales to customer service to tech, to logistics and even product fulfilment, and that gives us opportunities that aren’t viable for other businesses.

Again, Safebase is a product that wouldn’t make sense for a company that had to outsource many of the cogs needed to keep the machine turning – but because of our vertical integration we are uniquely positioned to make a complex service like this financially viable for ourselves and affordable for our customers.

Finally, Plan for Failure
You may have heard the phrase often used by entrepreneurs ‘fail fast’. Within Non-Regulated Products we’ve adapted this to ‘fail fast and have alternatives ready’. Not every product will work out to be a Spotify – statistically most products fail. The trick is to have a viable Plan B ready to immediately deploy when Plan A fails.

Will Talbot is Head of Non-Regulated Products at Ignition Group

Will Talbot from Ignition Group
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