HomeBlog Existing Products: The Middle Child of the Product Portfolio

Existing Products: The Middle Child of the Product Portfolio

May 06, 2020 | By Robin Whiting

  • Many B2B organizations focus mainly on developing and launching new offerings, which starves current offerings of much-needed resources
  • Product managers are often unsure how to manage in-market products to drive financial and market performance
  • Lisa Singer explained how to develop a growth strategy for existing products in her Summit presentation “Managing Products for Growth”

Today we learned that Lisa Singer is a middle child (number two of three) and how she feels about that fact. “It was work to get noticed. I went off and followed the Grateful Dead. I snuck out of my second-floor bedroom window to go see the midnight showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I had a lot of fun, but I don’t think my activities helped in getting any positive attention from my parents. By the way, did you know August 12 is Middle Child Day? Probably not — it really gets no attention.”

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As a middle child, Lisa Singer has a soft spot for those often-invisible offerings in a B2B organization’s product portfolio — existing products that have become familiar and reliable. Unfortunately, the day-in, day-out success of an existing offering is often the very thing that keeps product managers from considering options for their growth.

“Many organizations are overly focused on developing and launching new offerings, starving current offerings of much-needed focus and resources,” said Lisa, who presented “Managing Products for Growth” at Summit today. Because best practices for managing in-market products to drive financial and market performance are often unclear to product managers, Lisa used her Summit appearance to outline a practical approach for thinking about potential markets for growth and criteria for developing growth strategies for these products.

“Sometimes clients ask how much they should be spending on current products vs. new products,” said Lisa. “I think that question is too internally focused. We recommend thinking about investment and growth from a market-focused perspective.”

The SiriusDecisions Innovation Strategy Framework takes a customer- and market-centric view of investment and growth. The market axis ranges from current (a market the organization is actively pursuing) to new (a market the organization is not pursuing). Likewise, the buyer axis ranges from a current buyer that the organization is actively pursuing to a new buyer.

By segmenting investment choices this way, organizations can categorize their growth goals into one of four quadrants:

  • Core innovation. This involves investing for growth in the current market and focused on the current buyer.
  • Existing market expansion. This involves investing in the current vertical or geographic market with a horizontal expansion to a new buying center.
  • New market extension. This involves investing for growth in a new geography or vertical market.
  • Breakthrough innovation. This involves investing for growth in a new market and a new buying center.

Each quadrant except core innovation involves some risk, so product managers need to consider what changes must be made to the offering strategy to facilitate growth in that new market or new buying center.

“Remember not to consider investing in new vs. old products, said Lisa. “Think about product investments from the market perspective of where you can grow. Second, whether it’s a new market or new market, there are a lot of gotchas, so do your research. If you can just ask one question, ask new customers you’re planning to target how they’re meeting their needs in the relevant area today.”

Some organizations now have “growth teams.” Lisa encouraged product managers to encourage every individual from product, marketing, and sales who is a member of the growth team to pay attention to those middle children — the organization’s current products — and identify new areas for growth for these offerings.

2021 Summit

May 2-5, 2021 | Austin Convention Center

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Robin Whiting

Robin Nicole Whiting is a senior editor at SiriusDecisions. She has more than 20 years of experience as a communications professional, covering a wide range of industries. Follow Robin on Twitter at @RobinWhiting1.

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