Coming up with new product ideas = easy. 

But creating new product strategies? Usually not so easy. 

A big difficulty with product strategy is that “strategy” is a notoriously nebulous term. What exactly goes into a product strategy? What makes for a great one? Who’s responsible for it, and what should it tell us? 

In this article, we talked to members of Bubble’s product team to discuss: 

What is product strategy? 

A product strategy is a plan that defines the vision for your product and provides a high-level blueprint for how you’re going to achieve that vision. 

The product strategy takes into account your target audience and ideal customers, your unique value proposition(s), the goals for your product, the main problems your product will solve, and the key ways it'll meet your customer needs. 

“A product strategy takes your understanding of your customers, potential use cases, and existing competitors to identify a differentiated way to deliver value and solve their challenges.” — Becky Mak, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Bubble

Typically, the product strategy sits between the vision for your product (very high-level) and the product roadmap (more granular). Your business objectives shape the vision for your product, which in turn shapes the strategy of how you’ll accomplish that vision. 

The product roadmap defines the steps and timeline for how you’ll accomplish that vision and your product goals, which is shaped by your strategy. 

What does product strategy include? 

Does include:

Doesn’t include:

✔️Specific, measurable goals  

❌ Overall vision and mission 

✔️Target market and personas

❌ Budget 

✔️Product vision 

❌ Planned features

✔️Product initiatives and themes

❌ Detailed roadmaps or execution plans

✔️ Market and competitive analysis 

❌ Metrics and KPIs

✔️ Differentiation 

❌ Product development plans

Product strategy serves as a key element in determining your product development plan and roadmap. It doesn’t replace those things, but serves to set a strong foundation for them.

Why is product strategy important? 

Product strategy often gets skipped in favor of creating a product development plan or product roadmap. However, before you jump straight into the practical and tactical, it’s beneficial to create a solid product strategy first. 

Here’s why: 

Product strategy provides clarity

A good product strategy defines both where you want to end up and the best ways to get there. This kind of high-level direction creates much more clarity when you’re designing your product roadmap and development plan. 

After all, before you get into the nitty-gritty of the development process, it helps to have a solid strategy of which direction to take to achieve your product goals. 

Product strategy helps prioritize your roadmap

Speaking of roadmaps: A clear strategy makes it much easier to prioritize your roadmap. A strategy can help with prioritization questions like: 

  • Which features should we focus on first? 
  • What’s our release timeline? 
  • How are we going to prioritize initiatives and themes into specific development plans? 
  • Which features align best with our product goals? 

Today, it’s easier and faster than ever to build and ship new features with no-code tools like Bubble. But shipping features quickly on its own isn’t enough. A great strategy guarantees that you can move fast, while making sure you’re making progress in the right direction. 

Product strategy helps communicate broader goals

A well-defined product strategy is an effective way to tie your company's vision and organizational goals to a specific product or offering. This is especially important for larger enterprises who have a portfolio of products, but it’s useful for startups too.

Aligning your product strategy with your larger business goals helps your company stay focused. A product strategy is a great way to bridge high-level mission and vision with the tactical product development process

Product strategy helps define your place in the market

One of the biggest components of product strategy is market research and competitive analysis. From there, you can accurately differentiate your product from other solutions available. 

By understanding your market positioning clearly, you can best determine which path forward to take, how to chart the course of your product’s development, which features to prioritize first, which audience sub-groups to focus on, and so on.

What are the key elements of a product strategy? 

You can think of the product strategy framework as three concentric circles or rings, each with more specific elements of your product strategy. 

 The key elements of product strategy shown as concentric circles. Initiatives is at the center, then goals, then vision.

At the highest level, you have your product vision. The vision provides focus for what you hope your product will achieve, what problems it'll solve for your customers, and how it'll help fulfill the mission and vision of your organization. 

At the next level, you have the goals for your product. These goals will lead ‌to your big vision, but also set the foundation for your product roadmap and specific initiatives. 

Finally, you have your product initiatives. What areas, functions, or themes will you focus on to achieve your goals and make sure your product is successful? 

In short, a strategy is a bridge between where you want to be (high-level vision) and how exactly you’re going to get there (your product roadmap). 

As such, your strategy should include: 

  • Your vision for the product 
  • The target market for the product and your current competitors 
  • The specific needs and problems of your target audience, and how your product will address them
  • The key differentiators or unique value of your product compared to other solutions 
  • The goals for your product 

With these components in place, you’ll be well on your way to creating an successful product strategy.  

Types of product strategies 

Some folks say there’s really only one type of product strategy: a differentiation strategy. The idea is to differentiate your product in some key way so that it stands out from other existing products or solutions. 

That said, there’s a lot of room for creativity. Here are some of the most common types of differentiation strategies and how they’re used. 

Type of Strategy

How it’s used

Cost strategy

A cost strategy positions your product as the most affordable or cost-effective option compared to other solutions

Niche strategy

A niche strategy position your product as the best solution for a specific, smaller niche of your potential customers 

Quality strategy

A quality strategy positions your product as having the highest quality design, functionality, reliability, or some other key feature

Service strategy

Service strategies position your customer service as better than your competitors, or as a unique extension of your services or product

Challenger strategy

Challenger strategies position your product or service as more effective or enticing than others based on features, design, or something else

Focus strategy

Similar to niche strategy, a focus strategy narrows your product to a specific market or geographical area

Speed strategy

Speed strategies position your product as the fastest to develop new features and functionality, as the highest-tech or most advanced 

Upselling strategy

An upselling strategy focuses on new products or services adjacent to your original product in a way that encourages continual purchases or updates 

All of these product strategy examples are types of differentiation. Is your product differentiated on the basis of cost? Features and functionality? Audience? Something else? 

Ultimately, these key distinctions between your product and the rest will help you define and shape your product strategy. 

How to create your product strategy 

Once you have your differentiation strategy in place, you can start building out your product strategy. 

Successful product strategies answer questions like: 

  • Who is the intended audience or niche for our product? 
  • What problems will our product solve? 
  • What differentiates our product from other solutions, or from a potential user not taking action at all? 
  • What are our long-term goals and vision for our product? How will we measure our product’s success? 

Your product strategy will eventually shape your product roadmap, which gives you a clear picture of the direction you’re headed in as well as the steps you’ll take to get there. 

So, how do you create your product strategy? Keep the following tips in mind. 

Start with a vision

Before you can chart out your strategy and roadmap, you need to have an end goal in mind. 

“A product strategy needs to start with a compelling vision for where you want to be. How will the world look different when you’re successful? I always like to start with a movie trailer vision of 'Imagine a world where…' and start writing from there.” — Laura Oppenheimer, Lead Product Manager at Bubble 

If you’ve already got a product idea in place, you'll likely understand your big-picture vision and where you’d like your product to end up someday. But don’t neglect talking to your potential customers and target audience about this vision, too. Is this their biggest problem? Does your solution excite them? Validate your ideas and be prepared to adjust your vision and direction as needed to serve your audience well. That’s how you develop product-market fit and create a strong strategy. 

Build your strategy and roadmap

With a clear vision in front of you, you can then start to think about strategy and your roadmap. 

“[Once the vision’s in place,] I’ll start pulling out the themes we need to work on to be successful, and then map up specific tactics or projects to those themes. And from there, you can also align on what you aren’t going to focus on which is sometimes just as important.” - Laura Oppenheimer, Lead Product Manager at Bubble

You can think of these stages as getting progressively more detailed and moving from long-term to short-term. 

That is: Start with vision, and then move into themes. Then use those themes to shape the roadmap, specific projects, and actual work to be done for each of your teams. 

Focus on what makes sense for your product

At the end of the day, focus on the strategy that makes the most sense for your product. Regardless of your business strategy, there’s no one “right” way to make successful products that improve people’s lives. 

As Vivienne Chen, product marketing manager at Bubble, says, 

“Similar to the idea that there are great problems that could use product strategy that aren’t best served by free “markets” at all, there are some product ideas with great product market fit and great strategy that don’t necessarily scale to the “unicorn” venture capital funding level. 

That’s OK — those ideas should be pursued, even if the venture funding model doesn’t always sustainably support them. That’s where a tool like Bubble, that lets you bootstrap and self-start your product for a few hundred dollars a year, is SO valuable. So many ideas deserve to be built that aren’t going to be the next Facebook, but can make such a difference in people’s lives at a personal scale.” 

The moral of the story: Every product and product strategy is (and must be) different. Don’t get lost in your strategy trying to make your product a unicorn startup if that isn’t really the greatest good for your product. 

Instead, use your product strategy to develop your product based on the unique vision, offer, differentiation, and audience you have in mind. 

What is the role of the product manager within product strategy? 

Typically, your product teams or product managers will set the strategy. Product managers oversee ‌product strategy and development throughout the entire product lifecycle.

Over time, this role changes from more strategic to more tactical. 

Your product teams should focus on adapting the strategy as needed while making sure it stays true to the original vision and maintains product-market fit. Product managers can also provide a helpful point of contact for cross-collaboration across the entire organization as you bring the product vision to life. 

Execute your product strategy by building on Bubble 

Whether your product is slated to become the next unicorn startup or is a super-niche product you’re bootstrapping yourself, building on Bubble is the fastest way to bring your vision to life. 

With Bubble’s no-code tools, you can take features from idea to reality in record time and at a fraction of the cost, allowing you to build exactly what you want the way you envision it, without the cost of an entire dev team. 

Instead, you can start building for free. If you want to handle product development yourself, Bubble’s no-code visual editor makes it easy to make your product vision a reality. If you want some outside support, you can bring on a Bubble-Certified Developer or agency to help you execute your idea quickly and flexibly. 

So what are you waiting for? 

You’ve got your initial strategy in place — now bring it to life with Bubble.