In your target customer’s life, how do your products help them solve real problems they're facing?
Can you tell a compelling story of why a customer would buy all three of your Core Products?
They don't need to buy all three at once, but can you follow the narrative from gateway product to subscription or flagship product, where eventually they've purchased all three?
That's your Selling Story, and it's crucial to keeping your product strategy on track.
Your Gateway, Flagship, and Subscription products are your Core Products that form your Selling Story, of how your products fit together in the life of a customer. If you choose to have other products, make sure they are either Complementary (Add-on) or Supplementary (Alternative) to your Core Products, to keep your Selling Story simple.
Your gateway product and your flagship product exist at two ends of the spectrum, with your subscription product as the long-term commitment. But what about other products, services, or experiences you offer? Do you even need other products?
Simply put, no. A gateway product and a flagship product are sufficient to build a thriving business, with a subscription product as the massive cherry on top.
Still, depending on your industry and your passions, you may find it natural to add other products or services, and you can and should do that if you can fulfill those products without detracting from your core focus products.
First things first, make sure you’re creating products to serve as real solutions to real problems for real people (and the right people), rather than just stuff to sell.
Often, business owners make the mistake of carrying more products without thinking through the selling story, hoping that because the products are available, they are naturally going to sell.
As a matter of fact, the reverse may be true. If you are carrying products that your Target Customer doesn’t want, you send a subtle signal that maybe you don't “get them” and know what they need.
Create Add-on or Alternative Products
Together, your Gateway, Subscription, and Flagship Products are your Core Products. If you're going to offer any additional products, they need to fit into one of two categories:
- Complementary (or Add-on) Products
- Supplementary (or Alternative) Products
Complementary products are natural, positive add-ons to your core products that improve your customer’s overall experience, for a fee.
Supplementary products are optional replacements to your core products, typically because they are better or cheaper alternatives (but not both).
For Dollar Shave Club, the shaving cream and aftershave they sell are natural Complementary Products to their namesake product, the razor. You don't need the Complementary Products to get the core product, but they are nice add-ons that improve the overall experience.
When I first became a Dollar Shave Club customer, I was hooked by the offer of a $1 razor, but during checkout I was offered two Supplementary Products **of alternative, more premium razors. There was no reason to buy both, but I upgraded my experience to the $5 razor.
Similarly, you can (and should) offer both complementary and supplementary products in your business for your customers.
What add-ons or alternatives can you offer your customers?
Do you currently offer any products that aren't either a Core Product, Supplementary Product, or Complementary Product? How can you adjust those to simplify your selling story, for your customer?