How do I know if we have a product strategy problem or a go to market problem? Our product isn’t growing as fast as we’d like.
A product that is working well for its users will show strong user retention metrics and very positive qualitative feedback from users. If you're retaining the vast majority of your current userbase with some signs of user-driven growth or upsell activity, your core product is probably on solid ground. From here, figure out where in your funnel you're underperforming: are you having a hard time acquiring traffic or in converting traffic to signups or customers? As you analyze each stage, you'll see a varying set of problems & potential diagnoses emerge.
On the other hand, if you're seeing significant churn in your userbase and your funnel is fairly leaky at each stage, focus on nailing your core value proposition for the right userbase first, and then push to get to scale through the right growth strategy.
To determine the root cause here, you will need to determine if the problems you are solving with your product are something that resonates with users. The best way to determine that is to talk to your target users.
If your product and roadmap do not align with your target users' pain points, then you'll need to re-think your strategy.
If your product and roadmap offer solutions to their pain points, then you will need to focus on go-to-market.
There's a possibility that while your product does solve the right problem for your target users, the market is not big enough for your growth goals. In that case, you may need to re-think your strategy and consider expanding the scope of target users or problems your problem is catering to.
Without specifics, I fear providing a generic answer, but:
Are you defining what a 'market problem' is accurately? I recommend, "People with a specific problem (JTBD) they are willing to pay for a solution to." Have you talked to these specific types of people and validated they would pay for your solution? Are there enough of these 'users' to merit strong revenue?
If so, then yes, maybe you have a marketing or messaging problem. That can be easier to solve than poor 'product market fit' (meaning people like what you offer, but not enough to sell it).
Or lastly, maybe you have a strong product market fit, and there are a ton of users who are hearing about it and buying it, BUT your growth trajectory is some wildly made up number that would be impossible to hit... there's always that ;)
Product Market Fit (PMF) is elusive and attaining it can be a challenge for thousands of start-ups. In many cases, your growth might actually be a combination of strategy and go-to-market. The only way to truly know is to run some experimentation with A/B tests with various markets and targets as well as campaigns to validate if you are using the right GTM for the target market or have the product strategy.
This is a nicely written article with some great visuals on PMF: https://theproductmanager.com/topics/how-to-find-product-market-fit/
When it comes to customer behavior, you usually detect that a problem exists before you figure out why that problem exists.
"What people are doing" shows up every day in your metrics.
"Why are people doing what they're doing?" is a harder question that often requires research techniques to nail down.
In a small scrappy company, these techniques can involve click recording and watching replays, getting out of the building and talking to people, surveys, diary studies, usability studies, market awareness studies, and other simple UXR and Market Research techniques.
In a larger organization, you should be working closely with your functional experts in qualitative and quantitative research (or hiring outside help) in order to understand the "whys."
You might have a go-to-market problem (lack of awareness, improper positioning, mental blockers, poor pricing, usability problems, or missing pieces in your acquisition and engagement funnels).
Or you might have a strategy problem (people not associating your product with solving their problem that the new feature is meant to solve, or people not trusting your brand to solve their problem, or people not needing to solve this kind of problem repeatedly, or people being satisfied by workarounds and alternatives and not seeing a strong need for your product).
Or you might have both types of problems.
To figure out which you have, and which are most important to resolve, turn to research techniques to understand "why."