“The recipe for a successful product is easiness. The product has to be easy to buy and easy to sell.”

Hold on! The concept of ease is a good starting point for creating a successful product, but be careful not to take that advice at face value. Instead, ask what does ‘easiness’ actually mean for the person saying it or for the people involved in the product.

the 13 principles of ease

When I talk about products here, I mean both tangible, concrete products as well as digital and service products.

For marketers, the notion of ‘easy to buy’ most likely means that the product’s four P’s (Product, Price, Place, Promotion) or five P’s are in order. For buyers, however, ‘easy to buy’ might mean something completely different.

For a seller, the ease of buying could mean a price so low that the product basically sells itself. But does the low price match the value created for the customer? Or what if you sell a cut-price product easily and at high volumes, but to the wrong customer base? Worst-case scenario, you’ll end up with a pile of complaints from disgruntled customers.

So, although the concept of ease is definitely a key ingredient in the recipe for success, it’s not quite as simple as that. Let’s have a look at how a product’s success criteria have evolved.

An easy product is easy for everyone involved

Computer security company F-Secure has created several successful cyber security products and services. When I worked at the company in the early 2000s, we took the traditional twofold ‘easy to buy, easy to sell’ criteria a little further and devised seven core principles of ease.

A product had to be easy to market, sell, buy, take into use, use, support, maintain & further develop. Expanding the criteria came about after realising that a product must be easy for everyone involved in the product, including of course the customer representatives.

At my first start ups at Lifix and Secgo, we used the seven principles successfully and combined them with Geoffrey A. Moore’s chasm model as well as the whole product model developed by Ted Levitt, which deepened our understanding of what a product actually is.

The role of the product manager is to ensure the product is easy enough for all the stakeholders. The 14 principles of ease I am about to introduce will help product managers and product leaders concretize and embed the concept of ease across their organisation.

Balandor’s 14 principles of ease will help you review and develop your product

In my job I develop success strategies for my clients’ products, their product management and their organisation as a whole. While carrying out offering audits and sharpening product management I’ve often noticed that the least successful products fall behind in one or more principles of ease. For example, a product that is easy to sell but incredibly difficult to take into use can cause a company problems in the form of cancelled deals or swamped customer support.

In my strategy development work with clients we have used the Buyer Utility Map matrix from the Blue Ocean Strategy model as well as customer journeys. Based on insights and learnings, we expanded the principles of ease required of a successful product first up to ten in 2018, and up to thirteen in 2019. Finally, the last but not least principle was uncovered when writing this post.

the 13 principles of ease

When I now introduce the fourteen principles to my clients, they’re often surprised by the number of principles there actually is. For product managers the model might even cause some mild anxiety if they hadn’t previously realised how broadly their decisions impact on the product’s success.

To help alleviate some of that anxiety, it’s worth keeping in mind the saying ‘If it were easy, everyone would have done it already.’ Some think the model is too complicated. In these cases I recommend moving to the simpler twofold principles of ease, until business or stakeholder relations begin to jar, at which point you can re-evaluate which of the other eleven overlooked areas might be the issue.

Next time you are building a successful product, start with the people who produce it and use it and find out what each of the 14E model’s principles means to them:

Balandor’s 14E model – The 14 principles of ease for a successful product

1. Easy to market
2. Easy to sell
3. Easy to find
4. Easy to buy
5. Easy to take into use
6. Easy to use
7. Easy to support
8. Easy to maintain
9. Easy to recommend
10. Easy to repurpose or retire
11. Easy to develop further
12. Easy to invoice
13. Easy to pay
14. Easy to manage

Now let’s get to work!

Review and develop your own successful product using the 14E model. You can utilise my 14E analysis template published under the Creative Commons license. You can expand or reduce the number of principles required to meet your product and stakeholder needs. I believe that after applying this model, you won’t go back to the twofold ‘easy to sell, easy to buy’ model – even if this more broad-spectrum review reveals you still have a lot of work to do to make your product easy enough.

I like to learn from others’ insights and ideas, so please do leave a comment below or get in touch and we’ll talk more.