December 18, 2017

Archives for February 2013

Put a Little Love in Your Product – How Great Products Evoke Emotion

The following is a summary of the Roundtable discussion that I led at ProductCamp Austin 10 on Feb 16th, 2013.

Several authors have recently highlighted the importance of emotion in great products.   Peter Boatwright and Jonathan Cagan explore this in their book “Built to Love: Creating Products That Captivate Customers”.   Marty Cagan addresses this in one chapter of his book “Inspired:  How to Create Products Customers Love”.   And then to take a different look at this,  Anthony Ulwick has written a book title “What Customers Want:  Using Outcome Driven Innovation to Create Breakthrough Products & Services”, where he describes that customers hire products to do a job, which at the surface seems to have nothing to do with evoking emotion.

In this session, we explored if and how emotion played a role in the success of products.  Discussion points for the session included:

  • Is emotion required to be a great product?
  • Does emotion apply to the general market?
  • Can emotion be planned into products or is it a serendipitous outcome?
  • Does emotion apply to business & industrial products?
  • Can we identify emotions to target?

Examples of Products That Evoke Emotion

So to start the session, we looked out products that participants said evoke emotions and we asked why.  These included:

Products Why They Evoke Emotion
 iPhone  It’s “lickable” – it’s unexpectedly good, which creates customer delight.  It’s finely crafted and feels good in the hand.
Disney Amazing customer experience.   They are meticulous about the whole experience and have planned for many potential use cases that need to be addressed, even minute ones that many would overlook. The Disney Imagineers are always looking for ways to improve on the experience (remove the crap).
Configurable Curtain Rods Easy to reconfigure any time furniture is rearranged (which in the participants case was multiple times per year).  It only took several minutes to change them v. having to buy new ones and going through the hassle of removing the old ones and installing the new.
SalesForce Much more useful than spreadsheets, little up-front investment, relatively easy to get started.
Southwest Airlines Great customer experience (especially in relation to other airlines) because the SW employees are happy, seem to enjoy their jobs, no nickel & dime for each extra, transparent about flight delays and other issues.

Characteristics of Products That Evoke Emotion

Key Characteristic Description of Characteristic
Unexpected Delight Other experiences were so bad before and you didn’t realize how good it could be.   Or going beyond what is regularly expected.   One other aspect is avoiding those things that can create negative emotions or hassle.
Honesty/Transparency Regular and honest communications v. leaving us in the dark or creating false stories to hide truth.
Attention to Detail Crafting the experience to ensure it’s memorable by paying attention to detail.  Also, making it personal.
Focus On Core Competencies Not trying to be everything to everyone and paying attention to those things that benefit the business model (which in turn benefit the customer).

How Companies Proactively Evoke Emotion

  • Someone owns the customer experience (empowered and budget)
  • Crafting the Experience & Creating the Story
  • Listening to Customers (showing the vendor cares)
  • Knowing What Not to Do (Clear Mission & Strategy)

Final Thoughts on Evoking Emotion With Your Products

While we did not achieve a comprehensive understanding of the role that emotion plays in great products, I think we definitely arrived at an understanding of the roots of what evokes emotion in products.   We also came to the conclusion that emotion can be evoked in about any kind of product, though the was an area that we would have liked to explore more.

I started out mentioning several books and that Tony Ulwick’s book seemed to not look at evoking emotion.   But from this discussion and from own experience, when a company understands all aspects (or dimensions) of the job their product is being hired for, they will pay attention to the important details that other vendors are ignoring and create a product that delivers unexpected delight, thus evoking emotion.   So I believe the though of hiring a product to do a job and evoking emotion is congruent.

So my final though is, it starts with Product Management 101 – understand the customer needs and expectations and then craft that experience.


We are ProductCamp Austin

ProductCamp Austin is achieving a milestone this Saturday, Feb 16th, with the tenth edition of ProductCamp Austin.   What an amazing achievement and it really is due to the engagement and involvement of the Product Management & Product Marketing community in the Austin area.   Congratulations to all involved!!!

I have attended ProductCamp in four different cities, including Austin, and I have to say that ProductCamp Austin is one of the most dynamic communities that I have seen.   Our percentage of attendance from the PM community is outstanding and our percentage of registered attendees that also attend is much higher than other PCamps.   Great sessions combined with great networking make it a great event.   You can here some of my thoughts about ProductCamp Austin in my conversation with Cindy Solomon at ProductCamp Radio.

To celebrate our tenth ProductCamp and to emphasize the importance of the community, the planning committee launched a video campaign called ‘We are ProductCamp Austin”.   You can see the original video and my response below.


Is Marketing Narcissism Killing Your Product?

There is a disease that so many companies have and it is killing the success of their products.   Even Product Managers and Product Marketers that have been taught how to avoid the disease, continue to become infected.  That disease is Marketing Narcissism.

Defining Marketing Narcissism

One definition of Narcissism is “an inordinate fascination with oneself; excessive self-love; vanity.”   So Marketing Narcissism occurs when we are overly fascinated with our own company, with the cool features of our products, with how smart we are, etc.  Marketing Narcissism is manifested when we do things such as:

  • Start a customer presentation talking all about how great your company is.
  • Sit around the conference room at your company deciding what you think your customers need, because you are, of course, so much smarter than them.
  • Conduct long laborious demos that show all of the cool features your engineering team dreamed up.
  • Acting as if a prospect is stupid because they did not choose your product (yes, I have actually heard companies talk this way).
  • Create marketing messages that you think are awesome without finding if your target market even cares.

A way that someone else summarized this to me is Marketing Narcissism occurs when we create products that we want to create and communicate marketing messages that we want to communicate without consideration for what the customer needs to be able to do or what they need to hear to encourage a purchase decision.

Curing Marketing Narcissism

To cure ourselves of Marketing Narcissism, we need to learn and apply some Product Management 101 — That is, talk to those in our target markets and understand the challenges they are facing and the problems they want to solve.  It is only then that we can create products that customers want to buy and create market messages that cause them to make the buying decision for our products.  It sounds so amazingly simply, but it often seems so difficult to do.   Even after going through training and learning the right way to do it, it’s much easier to fall back into the trap of Marketing Narcissism and do things the way that we used to.

What are we afraid of?  That customers or prospects are going to tell us we are wrong or that we don’t understand them.  I’d much rather find that out before developing the product then after the product is already in the market.

True Story of Marketing Narcissism

I once joined a company and in the first meeting with the CEO, he explained to me that a certain new product was the top corporate priority.  So when I started asking who are target markets were and what problems we were solving for them, he explained that was Product Management’s job to figure out.  Needless to say, we invested a lot of time into trying to find a major pain that we could solve for our customers, but in the end, we discovered it added complexity to our customer operations and did not deliver enough new value to what they were already doing and the product failed in the market.   Wouldn’t it have been great to have discovered that before we developed the product.

 Lesson for Today!

Customers and prospects don’t care how great you think you are.   They want to know that you actually understand their needs and problems and can help them solve them.

So remember, it’s not about us.

It’s about the Customer!