December 15, 2017

Archives for 2014

Earned Authority #4: Make a Positive Impact on the Important Drivers of Your Company’s Business Model

Too often as Product Managers/Product Marketers, we are so focused on our product that we lose sight of how it fits in to the overall business strategy of our company.   One of the key ways to establish yourself as a leader in your organization is to really understand and focus on the key business drivers for your organization.   That is to understand what drives success for the organization, and then manage your product in a way to help support those business drivers.   Below are several business drivers that, if you understand and support, will set you apart from other Product Managers.

  1. Business Strategy:  The number one way to set yourself apart is to understand how your product fits into the overall business strategy and drive your product strategy to support the business strategy.   Too often we get caught up in product features and customer requests and forget that our product exists to help the company achieve specific strategies and objectives.   As a successful Product Manager, you must understand the how your company and product line is positioned in the market, how the company creates a competitive advantage, what are the core competencies of the company and what are specific strategic initiatives for the current year and planned initiatives for the next 2 or 3 years.  And then based upon this knowledge, create a product strategy, build out a roadmap and then drive your product to support thebusiness strategy.   You will be much more impactful as Product Manager if you can present your product roadmap in the context of the overall strategy versus showing a list of features and enhancements.
  2. Drivers of Profitability & Growth:  While this may sound obvious, there are key parts of your overall business model that have the biggest impact on profitability and growth.  The better you understand that, the better you can make decisions on your product strategy to improve on these key business drivers.  For example, in some industries, customer retention is a key business driver, so as Product Manager, you will want to focus on aspects of your product that will improve on customer retention.  Or, if you offer a free trial, then a key driver will be the percentage of trials that turn into paid customers, so as a Product Manager, you will want to focus on improvements to your product that improve conversion to paid customers.
  3. Your Stakeholders Key Objectives:  If you want to establish strong relationships with your key stakeholders, then understand how their success is measured, and to the extent possible, consider what you can do with your product strategy to help your key stakeholders achieve their objectives (which should ultimately be in support of the Business Strategy).   For example, if the Professional Services team has a metric to decrease implementation times by x%, then you’ll want to support that as much as possible.   Or, if Sales has an objective to increase sales in a certain market, you’ll want to identify product initiatives that will help them achieve that objective.
  4. Understand the Numbers:  Finally, you have to understand company’s finances and how your product impacts those finances.  Depending upon your industry, the important finance metrics you’ll want to understand relative to your products could include:  cash flow, inventory, turn-over ratios, utilization of assets and resources, gross margin targets, cost allocation, etc.  This is the ultimate test of making a positive impact on the key drivers for your company!


Driving the Marketing and Sales Funnel to Close Deals: What Product Marketers Must Know and Do!

The following presentation is from my AIPMM Webinar deliver on Feb 14, 2014.

The Product Marketer is responsible for ensuring demand for a product in the market, and part of the responsibility is “guiding” marketing programs that will drive that demand. Without a clear understanding of the Product Marketer’s role in demand generation, demand generation programs too often lack clarity and focus and deliver marginal results. But what does this really mean for the Product Marketer? What must the Product Marketer know and be able to do to effectively drive demand?

In this webinar, you’ll learn:

  • A clear definition of Product Marketing’s role in demand generation
  • How to define program goals
  • How to determine the best methods of customer acquisition
  • How to define program metrics and monitor the marketing and sales funnel

Real Product Managers Don’t Do Selfies!

It’s a great honor for a new word to earn a definition in the Oxford Dictionary, but the greatest honor that any new word can achieve is to be named the “Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year“.  In 2013, the word “selfie” achieved that honor via a 17,000% increase in usage from 2012.    It won over other recently popularized words such as “twerk” and “binge-watch”.   The Oxford definition for “selfie” is:

“A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smart phone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website” ~ Oxford Dictionary

So what does all of this have to do with Product Managers (and Product Marketers)?  When it comes to managing a product, or defining the Go-to-Market strategy for a product, way too many Product Managers and Product Marketers are doing “selfies”.

Ways in Which Product Managers & Product Marketers Do Selfies

Here a just a few examples of how we as Product Managers & Product Marketers do selfies:

  1. We define features that we think are cool.
  2. We write market messages that tickle our ears.
  3. We give presentations to customers where we talk about how great our company and our products are.
  4. We sit around conference rooms talking about what we think our customers think (and never ask them).
  5. We use marketing programs and marketing media that we like to use or that is currently fashionable.
  6. We define User Experience (UX) that is flashy and uses the latest trendy technologies.  (BTW – I’m not endorsing that PMs should be doing UX)
  7. We give long product demos, feature-by-feature, making sure not to miss a single feature (and especially our pet features).

Selfies is a Sin of Marketing Narcissism

When we do selfies such as the examples described above, we are committing a sin of Marketing Narcissism.   Marketing Narcissism is doing marketing that is all about you, your company or your product.

I know, calling it a sin is pretty harsh, but what amazes me is, that within the Product Management community, the message is clear and loud that we must focus on the customer, understand their market needs, build products that solve those needs and communicate messages that resonate with the problems they have, but even with that clear understanding, over and over again, I see companies and Product Managers/Product Marketers who are regularly committing Marketing Narcissism.   Companies from start-up to Global 2000 do this on a regular basis.   Even trained Product Managers & Product Marketers do this.  Why? When will learn?

I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason we continually make this mistake is that Marketing Narcissism is easier to do.  Is is the path of least resistance.   It’s hard work to really understand our customers in depth, so instead of doing the hard work ,we take the easy and well-traveled path, which eventually leads to Product Management hell.

The Harder and Less-Traveled Path to Product Management Heaven

We cannot continue doing things the way we used to if we really want establish the Product Management and Product Marketing disciplines as the key strategic roles they are meant to be and make a significant impact on the success of our organization.   Here are some thoughts to help move in the right direction:

  • We must get our management teams and key internal constituents aligned to understand the importance of being market-driven so that we can break down that resistance to change.  I have seen over and over again where Product Management teams have committed to improving their practices and have been trained and established market-driven processes, but the resistance to change from other parts of the organization was so high, the initiative failed and everyone fell back into their old patterns of Marketing Narcissism.
  • We must commit to being students of the Product Management game so that we keep learning better ways to do our role better and self-correct ourselves as we remind ourselves of things of we know we should be doing, but either forgot or got to busy to do.
  • We must develop our Market Expertise.  We must develop a deep and “intimate” understanding of customers and markets to be successful in Product Management and Product Marketing.  Nothing creates greater credibility for you as a Product Manager or Product Marketer than being able to speak from the perspective of your customers using real market evidence.
  • And, anytime someone in your company wants you to commit Marketing Narcissism, Just Say No!!

I highly encourage all Product Managers and Product Marketers to make a new years resolution to spend more time in the market and to develop that deep understanding of their customer’s.  Wishing you all the best for 2014!!!


BTW – Real Product Managers don’t “twerk” either, but I’ll get to that another time.