How product management can double customer LTV

Is that title clickbaity enough for you? 😉

I gave a talk in 2020 by that title as an info session/pitch for why folks should take a 2-week intensive Product Management course I would be teaching. The online webinar was a mix of (1) “What is Product Management?”, (2) “What’s an interesting real-world case study highlighting the importance of product management?”, and (3) “Why should you take this course?”

The good news: the talk was really well received, and in watching now, it does a good job of encapsulating a case study that I lived through and am extremely proud of 😄

The bad news: I gave the talk on the day after the 2020 presidential election; the next few months would be some of the wildest times we’ve lived through, and the online school I was planning to teach with (Alpha Fellowship) went under before the course could begin 😟

I stumbled upon the video recently and am sharing it in case others find it useful:

Years of work condensed into a short case study video

And here’s the deck:

And here’s a rough outline:

What is product management?

What was the use case?

  • Relay Foods' value proposition was “What if you had the convenience of Amazon with the vibe of Whole Foods?”…until Amazon bought Whole Foods.
  • Relay was a well-loved brand with a retention problem – despite people needing groceries every week.
  • We had a hypothesis that our customers' problem was more holistic than just “I'd like to do grocery shopping online”
  • We pitched and iteratively rolled out an innovative meal-planning feature. Read more in my post that does a deep dive into the meal-planning feature.

What went well?

  • We did product management the “right way” – talked to customers early and often, iterated like crazy, and worked in a cross-departmental way.
  • We saw a 2X increase in customer LTV (lifetime value) 🤩
    • Existing customers who began using meal planning started ordering with us 20% more often than before
    • New customers had 49% higher basket sizes and 42% higher retention when leveraging meal planning on their first order (vs. those that didn't)
    • A large number of lapsed customers came back, and 34% were still active after 8 weeks.

What didn’t go so great?

  • We didn’t define and align on “what does success look like?” up-front and/or set up good analytics instrumentation, and thus, it took us a long time to collect data, analyze it rigorously, and realize how big the impact actually was.
  • We had already committed to building other things after this capability launched, and we didn’t double down on the initial successes we were seeing.
  • We were very preoccupied with fundraising, ultimately resulting in an acquisition that changed the course of the product.

What are some tips for aspiring product managers?

  1. Tell your own unique story and do the work to map it to what a given hiring manager is looking for.
  2. Show customer empathy by framing work you’ve done around value generated for the people involved (even if you haven’t done so as a product manager).
  3. Find small ways to practice PMing — in your existing work, on side projects, or just by reading / writing.

TLDR

This video highlights one of the most fulfilling product launches I’ve been a part of,  I’m proud of what our team accomplished, and I hope you find some of the above useful!

If I had a million dollars, we wouldn't have to walk to the store

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