The Intersection of Developing a Product Strategy and Building Substack: Insights and Best Practices


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 20, 2023

3 min read


The Intersection of Developing a Product Strategy and Building Substack: Insights and Best Practices


Developing a successful product strategy requires a deep understanding of the problem, identification of unique value propositions, and a clear execution plan. In a similar vein, Substack, a popular platform for paid newsletters, has revolutionized the media landscape by prioritizing differentiation over cost and building trust with both writers and readers. This article explores the commonalities between best practices for product strategy development and the success story of Substack, while offering actionable advice for businesses.

Section 1 - Understand the Problem:

Both product strategy development and Substack's approach emphasize the importance of understanding the problem. For a product strategy, it is crucial to define the problem you aim to solve and identify your target audience. Choosing whom you will not serve is equally important as selecting your target market. Similarly, Substack recognized the need to solve the problem of media monetization by shifting the focus from optimizing for users' time to optimizing for their money.

Section 2 - Identify Unique Value:

To stand out in the market, it is essential to identify and leverage unique assets. A successful product strategy utilizes these strategic assets to gain a competitive advantage and secure the "right to win" in a specific space. Substack's success lies in recognizing that new media businesses can compete on differentiation rather than cost. By offering a platform for niche content creators, Substack capitalized on the rising demand for specialized content and built a loyal user base.

Section 3 - Outline Execution Plan:

Execution is often the differentiating factor between successful and unsuccessful ventures. A product strategy must define success metrics and identify potential risks and pitfalls. Substack's founders understood that strategy alone is not enough; execution is the key to success. By starting with a small scope and building a product exclusively for one influential writer, Substack gained valuable insights and developed features that would have otherwise been overlooked.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Define your problem and audience clearly: Before developing a product strategy, identify the problem you aim to solve and the audience you want to serve. This focus allows you to cater to their needs effectively and gain a competitive edge.
  • 2. Leverage unique assets: Identify your unique value propositions and leverage them to differentiate your product or service from competitors. This approach helps you establish a "right to win" in your target market.
  • 3. Prioritize execution: A well-defined product strategy needs strong execution. Pay attention to defining success metrics, identifying potential risks, and continuously evolving your strategy as you build.


Developing a product strategy and building a successful platform like Substack share common principles. By understanding the problem, identifying unique value propositions, and executing effectively, businesses can increase their chances of success. Furthermore, Substack's focus on differentiation and trust-building offers valuable insights for companies looking to disrupt traditional industries. By incorporating these best practices and taking actionable steps, businesses can navigate the complexities of product strategy development and achieve their goals.

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