I love this sentiment from Rich Ziade in the post The New MVP: The Minimum Valuable Product. He talks about what happens when customers become a coalition that shares your mission. This is written from an agency perspective, but it applies just as much to product companies:
There is no more powerful political tool than releasing good software into people’s hands. You’ll find that the burden of consensus-building and campaigning is far lighter because the thing speaks for itself. It’s something you can draft behind to keep going.
Rinse and repeat. Done right and you’ll bank some political capital. You’ll need it along the way. Mistakes will be made and you will be blindsided by who-knows-what. Ideally you’ll string together a few wins that continuously impress people. Trust increases, anxiety decreases the temperature has gone down. What were once your customers will become part of your coalition, defending your product and mission because it is now their product and mission.
“…it is now their product and mission.” That is an excellent goal we can all aspire to.