6 lessons product managers can learn from GoPro

Veröffentlicht: 5. Mai 2014 in Technology
Schlagwörter:, , , , ,


GoPro disrupted the camcorder industry

The success of Woodman Lab’s little camcorder GoPro is astonishing: Founded ten years ago the company already accounts for about 20% of camcorder sales in the US and according to this source is the number one consumer camcorder on earth. The GoPro disrupted a market that was dominated by established manufacturers like Sony, Panasonic and Canon for a long time. How did they do that? I think there is a lot for product managers and entrepreneurs to learn from GoPro. Read my list of (at least) six lessons.

1. Solve a problem you are struggling with yourself

Product innovation is all about problem solving. But where to look for problems to solve when you want to create or improve a product? Paul Graham gives the advice to turn the perspective: „The trick I recommend is to take yourself out of the picture. Instead of asking ‚what problem should I solve?‘ ask ‚what problem do I wish someone else would solve for me?'“ Well, that’s exactly how Nick Woodman, the originator of GoPro, invented the camera. He wanted to make great surfing shots. The camera he needed for that purpose simply didn’t exist. He decided to build it. The advantage of solving a problem you are struggling with yourself is perspicuous: „The designer always has a direct line to at least one user – himself of herself.“ (that’s how Nir Eyal puts it in his book „Hooked„)


2. Be the first, grow in the niche

If Nick Woodman just would have had the idea to build another camcorder he would have failed. But Woodman had a different plan. At first he built surfer equipment to help surfers film themselves. It did not take long until skydivers, bikers, astronauts and other adventurers discovered how useful GoPro is to capture great moments. The GoPro has a clear unique selling proposition: The camera is for filming yourself when you do exciting stuff. Woodman was the first to fill that niche and that’s why all action cams of other manufacturers are and will be denounced as me-too-products.

3. Build the minimum viable product

Just imagine some years ago you would have suggested to build a digital camera that has neither a colour display to view your shots nor a power plug to charge it. Everyone would have thought you are crazy. But that’s exactly what the GoPro is like. And it makes sense: Why not outsource the display to the smartphone that nearly every GoPro user has already? Why ship the GoPro with a power plug if the phone’s charger can be used? GoPro’s strategy is wise: They build the minimal product and avoid all features that are not essential. That meets Marty Cagans recommendation to all product managers in his book „Inspired„: „Your job as product manager is not to define the ultimate product, it is to define the smallest possible product that will meet your goals.“

4. Never compromise with quality

GoPro camcorders don’t have a lot of features or modes. But from the start they had a high focus on what is most important for ambitious filmmakers: Picture quality. By focusing on that key asset GoPro managed to become an important equipment for special shots in many professional video productions (Like Felix Baumgartners space jump). And knowing this makes the camera even more attractive to consumers. When building a product you should always be aware what its most important attribute is and never compromise with it.

5. Sell emotions, not a product

From the start the GoPro has been much more than a product. It is a lifestyle that is closely connected with exciting moments. GoPro is extremely successful in leveraging the emotional side of the product. Filmmakers all over the world put their GoPro videos on Youtube and to underline how exciting the moment was they have captured they name the clip in a way like „GoPro Indonesia 2014“. They even put the GoPro intro in the beginning of their films. And that is great advertising GoPro gets for free. When you manage to boost your product with emotions you will make sure your customers have a lot of intrinsic motivation to use the product again and again.

6. Upsell your customers

Once you have won a customer it is much easier to sell him even more than to sell products to people who are not yet your customers. Service industries like telecommunications know that and act in that way. But in consumer electronics the upselling principal is hardly applied. GoPro is a great example that not doing it is a lost opportunity. When you have a GoPro you will soon realize that additional equipment like connectors and tripods are useful. GoPro offers all that to you. And when you want to go 3D GoPro inspires you to buy a second camera…

Further read


Here you can watch my latest video. A lot of scenes shot with a GoPro

[vimeo 97979637]

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