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Distribution First Development

Carol M| Business | 9 months, 2 weeks


Building a product and making sure that it reaches the right audience is extremely hard. 


Most product managers or even startup founders approach it in linear sequence of steps, which is definitely not the right way to do things. 


Usual sequence goes like this. You build stuff and then try to figure out distribution and then monetisation.


This is a wrong approach and there is very high likelihood that you will fail to successfully execute on crossing the chasm from product development to product adoption. 


Reason for this is that Internet is filled with so much clutter that it has become increasingly hard to break through the noise and reach to your customers.


You build what you think is a great product and expect people to find you automatically. Build and they will come — doesn’t really work. 


In this new world of excess of internet products and services, what you need is a new model to develop products.


I call it Distribution First Development Model.


This model focusses on solving the problem of building a business in a reverse order. 


Don’t build a product initially. Just put all of your energies in carving out a distribution channel. 


Now this leads to a catch -22 type of situation, where you might ask that how to build a distribution channel , when you don’t have a product in the first place to distribute. 


You need to find some auxiliary value. Auxiliary value is something which is related to the product you intend to build , but it doesn’t take too much time and money. 


It can be content related to your product or industry, it can be a service or it can be some third party products. 


The idea of auxiliary value is to break the initial catch-22 and get your distribution channel up and running. 


So basically in DFD you first try to build the distribution channel first and then build the product.


There are lot of channels you can look into like email marketing, content marketing, social channels, SEM etc. But never focus on more than one channel at a time.


 Instead do multiple small experiments to see what is working and double down on it. You can then use the other channels to augment that particular channel.


So once you some exchange of value happening with that distribution model, use the audience to validate your product assumptions and start work on building your product.


Then slowly start rolling out your product through the channel to reach your existing audience.


By Following Distribution Driven Development, you can avoid the Market Trap ( not able to find customers for your product) as well as Product Trap ( building something that noone wants).


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