Product/Market Fit

Can you really measure and plan for success?

Is your product going to be a success? Will your limited runway allow you to quickly develop and ship a bunch of stuff to see if the market bites? Every start-up wants to achieve product/market fit. Marc Andreessen defined the term as follows: โ€œProduct/market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.โ€ In other words the thing you’ve built and shipped achieves enough traction so that you can keep going and hopefully any scaling will ensure continued success of your product.

Measuring product/market fit is a crucial step for any business aiming to succeed in a competitive landscape. Over the years, numerous attempts have been made to develop effective methodologies for assessing this essential metric. In this article, we will delve into the evolution of product/market fit measurement and explore the advancements that have emerged. We will also discuss the notable contributions of Rahul Vohra and other experts in the field, incorporating citations to support our analysis.

In The Beginning…
In the early days of product development, companies relied heavily on intuition and subjective judgments to gauge market fit. However, this approach lacked objective measures and often led to inaccurate assessments. As technology and data analytics advanced, attempts were made to develop more systematic methodologies. It is really important to note that so many start-ups end up at a dead end because they are still in this mindset. They’ve not realised the value of product-led design thinking. Often founders are so adamant their idea and creation is going to succeed they fail to use strategic thinking and testing to discover the hard truth.
Sean Ellis and the Introduction of the “Single Question” Survey
In 2010, Sean Ellis, the founder of GrowthHackers, proposed a widely adopted method for measuring product/market fit. His approach involved asking users a single question: “How would you feel if you could no longer use the product?” By analysing the percentage of respondents who answered “very disappointed,” Ellis provided a quantitative measure of product/market fit. It was around 40% if you want to know!
Rahul Vohra and Superhuman’s Engine for Measuring Product/Market Fit

Rahul Vohra, the CEO of Superhuman, presented his groundbreaking approach in a widely acclaimed blog post in 2017. He introduced a comprehensive engine for measuring product/market fit, consisting of three key components: the product/market fit score, user surveys, and Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys. Vohra emphasised the importance of using multiple data points to gain a holistic understanding of product/market fit. The model works and has helped several early stage companies I’ve worked with in understanding where they need to focus on to meet their objectives.

The Product/Market Fit Score
Vohra’s product/market fit score is calculated by asking users, “How would you feel if you could no longer use this product?” and collecting their responses on a scale of 1-10. The score is determined by considering the percentage of users who answer 7 or higher, indicating a strong level of satisfaction.
User Surveys and the Kano Model

Vohra emphasised the significance of conducting user surveys to gather valuable insights. By using the Kano model, which categorises features into three types (must-haves, satisfiers, and delighters), businesses can identify the most critical aspects that drive product/market fit.

Net Promoter Score (NPS) Surveys

Vohra integrated NPS surveys into the product/market fit measurement process to gauge user loyalty and satisfaction. NPS measures the likelihood of users recommending a product or service on a scale of 0-10, providing additional valuable data points for evaluating product/market fit. See my post here on this.

Enhanced Metrics and Advanced Techniques

Since Vohra’s article, the field of product/market fit measurement has continued to evolve. New metrics and techniques have emerged, such as cohort analysis, customer retention rate, active user ratio, and churn rate analysis. Incorporating these metrics alongside Vohra’s approach enhances the accuracy and depth of product/market fit measurement.

Combine the approaches above and you’ll be able to get a good sense of whether success lies ahead. But do not be blinded by strategy, excuses or enthusiasm over the market reality. I’ve shared some tips below on how to make your own luck!

Tips for moving towards product/market fit

๐Ÿ‘‰ Clearly Define Your Target Market

Identify your target audience and understand their needs, pain points, and preferences. Conduct market research, analyse customer feedback, and gather insights to ensure your product aligns with their expectations. If need be run market sizing exercises to attach some quantitive data to this discovery plan.


๐Ÿ‘‰ Iterate and Refine

Embrace an iterative approach and be willing to adapt and refine your product based on user feedback. Continuously gather data, measure key metrics, and make data-driven decisions to enhance your product’s market fit.


๐Ÿ‘‰ Focus on a Core Value Proposition

Identify and communicate a compelling and unique value proposition that sets your product apart from competitors. Clearly articulate the key benefits and advantages your product offers to resonate with your target market. Test this with users who’ve never encountered your product – use the ‘grunt’ test, place your site in front of someone for 5 seconds then remove it. If they don’t understand what it is your are offering, you’re in trouble.


๐Ÿ‘‰ Build Something Shit Hot

Think an MVP is going to cut it? Forget it. The old adage of build a minimum viable product to xxx or yyy level often translates into something subpar. Instead, rapidly put together a crack team to build a shit hot product. Of course it has got to ย address the core needs of your target market.

By focusing on essential features, you can launch quickly, gather user feedback early on, and iterate based on validated learning. But do not fall into the trap of reduced quality. The bar in product is high nowadays – meet users fundamental product expectations (more on this later) ย but deliver your solution as lean as you can. If you need help understanding what this means then email meย 


๐Ÿ‘‰ Implement Effective User Feedback Loops

Establish mechanisms for collecting user feedback and actively listen to your customers. Leverage surveys, user interviews, support channels, and analytics tools to gain valuable insights into user satisfaction, pain points, and feature requests.


๐Ÿ‘‰ Measure and Track Relevant Metrics

Define key performance indicators (KPIs) that reflect your product’s market fit. These may include user retention, engagement metrics, customer acquisition cost (CAC), lifetime value (LTV), and Net Promoter Score (NPS). Regularly track and analyse these metrics to gauge your progress and make informed decisions.


๐Ÿ‘‰ Conduct User Surveys and Usability Testing

Use surveys and usability testing to gain in-depth insights into user experiences, preferences, and challenges. These methods can help uncover usability issues, identify areas for improvement, and validate the value your product delivers.


๐Ÿ‘‰ Leverage Early Adopters and Evangelists

Engage with early adopters who are passionate about your product. Foster strong relationships with them, listen to their feedback, and encourage them to become product evangelists who promote your offering within their networks.


๐Ÿ‘‰ Continuously Innovate and Evolve

Product/market fit is not a one-time achievement but an ongoing process. Stay agile, monitor market trends, keep an eye on competitors, and consistently innovate to stay ahead of the curve and maintain your product’s relevance in the market.


๐Ÿ‘ Build Cross-Functional Teams

Foster collaboration between product management, engineering, marketing, and customer support teams to ensure a holistic approach to achieving product/market fit. Encourage open communication and alignment across departments to drive the necessary improvements. You’ll need a competent CPO (Chief Product Officer) to straddle the high level with the tactical and operational needs of the team.