How to Write a Compelling Product Vision
A step-by-step guide to winning over even the most uptight investors.
Imagine this: You have a fantastic idea for a digital product — all that’s missing are investors. Or perhaps you’ve just built an MVP, and you can’t seem to get internal alignment. Now what?
You need a product vision, and not just the one that’s floating around in your head. You need a tailored presentation that delivers an airtight case for the world-class product you’re ready to deliver.
What is a product vision?
A product vision is a strategic artifact, typically in the format of a deck, that weaves key information about your product into a compelling narrative that highlights challenges and opportunities. In some ways, a product vision is similar to a logline that a screenplay writer might craft to describe their television pilot. It succinctly explains what the audience can expect and why they should care.
A product vision deck:
- Outlines challenges and opportunities
- Defines the audience’s needs and pain points
- Introduces your product and what it can do for the world
- Expresses the product experience
Going through the process of creating a product vision deck can be helpful for two reasons: It forces you and/or your team to align on and crystalize goals, and it results in a succinct artifact to show to potential investors and other interested parties who may be integral to taking your product to the next level.
There are many ways to write a product vision, but below is the step-by-step guide we use at Postlight to get started. You’ll find that even with just a small deck of eight slides, you can build a strategic narrative that can sell a big idea.
Step 1: State your mission
Set the stage by introducing your organization or company’s overarching goal. Don’t make it about the product — yet. State clearly what you want to do for the world. For example, Google’s mission isn’t to sell you on its suite of products — its mission is to be the most helpful company in the world.
Stating an overarching mission makes your goals relatable to any audience; not everyone understands the motivation to build a digital product, but almost everyone can relate to wanting to do something good for others.
Step 2: Acknowledge the challenges
List a few human truths, backed by data, that challenge your mission. These are the stakes; this is how you acknowledge that what you’re doing is difficult and that you understand the problem space.
Step 3: Show the audience opportunity
To offset the challenges, it’s important to show that people are ready for the product you’re introducing to the world. A few strong data points can go a long way toward expressing audience opportunity. If you don’t have first-party data, conduct your own desk research — look for relevant white papers and studies published by reputable research institutions.
Step 4: Show the market opportunity
When you show your awareness of the market, you prove you’re ready to compete. Communicate the market opportunity through something like a gap analysis chart — a quadrant that compares your direct competitors and highlights a white space in your industry that you intend to fill. These types of charts aren’t always easy to create, especially if you’re stepping into a burgeoning or untested market. You may not be able to complete this slide yet, but give it your best shot and come back to it later if need be.
Step 5: Hero the product
It’s time for the big reveal. Introduce your product with inspirational imagery and a succinct product description to match. This is an opportunity to turn up the volume on your copy, pushing past business-speak into prose.
Step 6: Affirm your expertise
Show why you and only you are the one to address this problem. Perhaps it’s the proprietary knowledge you bring, or your experience and access in the field. By showing investors and interested parties why your solution to the challenges expressed in the deck is unique, they’ll feel more compelled to lean in and support your efforts.
Step 7: List the key themes of the experience
If you’d like to further define your offering, try boiling your product down to a set of key experience themes. Another way to think of experience: If your product were a person, how might you describe them? These themes should be sharp and concise. They give a flavor of what someone using the product might experience. Will the product be efficient? Sustainable? Helpful? Keep in mind that these key themes are a sketch of your product. They may change with time — and that’s okay.
Step 8: Deliver the value proposition
There are many ways to summarize the value your product delivers. In this example, a chart shows the pain points the product solves for the industry, market, and user. Creating this chart may take time and a workshop or two.
Making it your own
This is just the beginning. Your product vision deck is a living artifact — it should grow and change as you receive feedback and iterate on your product. Eventually, you may find that you want to include other key information about your product, such as:
- Visuals or a Figma link to a product prototype
- Audience profiles
- MVP definition
- Strategic roadmap
- Technical considerations such as requirements and integrations
Above all, remember: A product vision is a story that should inform and inspire. Now go out there and show them what you’ve got.
Chappell Ellison (she/her/they/them) is Associate Director, Digital Strategy at Postlight. Reach out at email@example.com or follow them on Twitter.
Story published on Jul 27, 2022.