Question: How do you balance the feature requests of a vocal minority with keeping your product attractive to a mainstream audience?
Answer from Roger Cauvin: You can leverage the vocal minority to your benefit, so don’t ignore it. Since the vocal minority is vocal, they can be a powerful part of a positive outbound marketing campaign if you address their needs and give them a ‘megaphone’.
First, employ facilitation to gain an understanding of the ‘whys’ behind the feature requests. A product manager’s job is not to tally requests for features, but to determine the underlying problems that are most compelling to solve.
Second, find the ‘win-win’ commonalities among the problems that the vocal minority faces and those that the mainstream audience faces. The feature requests may not match, but the audiences may share underlying problems. In many cases, these problems bubble up to the top of the priority list.
Finally, assess the problems relative to your product’s positioning. To the extent possible, the problems your products solves, and the features it includes, should support and strengthen the main idea that you would like it to represent in the mind of the customer. In general, you should reject any features that undermine your product’s positioning.