June 26, 2017

Go-to-Market Webinar Series With DFW Product Group

CompellingPM is pleased to partner with the DFW Product Group to offer a monthly Go-to-Market Webinar Series.   During this 9 webinar series, we’ll be presenting key concepts that Product Managers and Product Marketers must know to develop and execute compelling Go-to-Market Strategies that drive revenue and success for their products.   Too often, Product Managers and Product Marketers feel like they don’t have control over revenue and success, but in these 9 webinars, we’ll show you the levers of control that you can use to own product success.

Please join us each month, from April to December 2015, as we share these practices that will enable you to spring forward in your Product Management/Product Marketing Career by being a Product Leader that takes ownership for Product Revenue & Success.

 Webinar Title  Date
The Strategic Role of Product Management & Product Marketing in Driving Product Revenue & Success  Apr 23
Developing a Deep Understanding of Your Target Markets: The Starting Point for Great Product Management & Marketing June 11
Define a Powerful Go-to-Market Strategy That Sets Your Product Apart Jun 25
Great Requirements Form the Foundation for Successful Products  Jul 16
Profitable Products Sell Value:   Why Value-Based Pricing Wins Aug 13
From Messaging Nightmare to Messaging Delight:  How to Create a Powerful Messaging Platform Sep 17
Create Effective Sales & Marketing Tools That Actually Get Used By Sales & Prospects Oct 15
Nothing Happens Until Someone Sells Something: Enabling Your Sales Channel to Success Nov 19
Driving the Marketing and Sales Funnel to Close Deals: What Product Marketers Must Know and Do Dec 11

The Strategic Role of Product Management & Product Marketing in Driving Product Revenue & Success – April 23, 2015

Way too often, Product Managers & Product Marketers make the excuse that they cannot take ownership for the success of their product in the market because there are too many factors outside to their control.  You can’t own success because sales might not do a good job of selling your product!  You can’t own success because engineering might develop a poorly performing product!  You can’t own success because you can’t get the support from management to commit the right resources!  And the list goes on.   While bad Product Managers/Marketers continue to complain about these limitations, Good Product Managers & Marketers become Strategic and take ownership of the success of their products.

In this webinar, Tom Evans shares his insight on specific actions that Product Managers & Product Marketers can take to become more strategic in their role in a way that enables them to take ownership for driving revenue and success for their products.

Key Takeaways from participating in this webinar:

    • Understand six key indicators that a Product Manager or Product Marketer is being tactical and not strategic.
    • Identify the key differences between Bad and Good Product Managers & Product Marketers
    • Learn the Strategic and Executional Levers of Control you can use to make your Product Management or Product Marketing role a stronger driver of product success.

 

Your Messaging Sucks! Now Let’s Go Fix It! (ProductCamp Austin 14)

On March 7th, 2015, I presented the following session at ProductCamp 14 (PCA14).  It was a great session with lot’s of interactive discussion and insights from the session participants.  Thanks to all for sharing and making it a great session!

Our Messages Too Often Focus on Features, Not Benefits!

The key focus of this presentation was to show that way too often, our market messages are about product features and not about the problems and benefits of our target customers.  Sometimes, we think we are talking about benefits (e.g., 24 hour access), when in reality, that is still a feature, or we say a benefit (e.g., reduced wear and tear), but that is a low order benefit, or what I also call a functional benefit.  But in either example, we still don’t connect to the real benefit of your target buying personas.  The other challenge is that in a complex B2B situation, there are many buying personas, but each persona places importance on different aspects of the benefits.  

How a Message Map Helps You Connect Features to the Real Benefits for Each Buyer Persona

What I presented in this session was the concept of a “Benefits Map”.   In this example, I mapped the connection from features to functional benefits to benefits for different buying personas and eventually, how this all connects with the benefits of the Executive Buyer.   The “Benefits Map” is useful to help you work through what the real benefits are for each buying persona and connect features and lower order benefits to show how the benefits are achieved.   This can then help you better target your messaging to each buying persona and to help sales have the right kind of conversations with each buying persona.

Good Product Manager, Bad Product Manager

Last year, I came upon Ben Horowitz’s article entitled Good Product Manager, Bad Product Manager.   Ben initially wrote this when he headed Product Management at NetScape.   What’s impressive is that even though this was first written 20 years ago, it’s still very relevant today.  As a trainer and consultant in Product Management and Product Marketing, I really have come to appreciate the importance of Ben’s thoughts.

I leveraged this article to lead a session at ProductCamp Austin 13 in August 2014.  Below are the slides I used and the notes from the discussion.

Why is There So Much Bad Product Management

There is a lot of bad Product Management going on.  I see three key reasons for Bad Product management (and Product Marketing):

  1. Many Product Managers/Marketers and Company Executives don’t have a clear understanding of the role and the strategic contribution the role should make to the organization.
  2. Too many decisions are based upon opinions and not strong knowledge and evidence from the market.
  3. Product Managers & Product Marketers don’t understand the levers of control they have to really make a strategic impact.

 What Can You Do To Become a Great Product Manager

  1. Get Training!!!   Way too many PMs have never been through training.  My informal survey says less than 20% and other survey’s say even fewer.
  2. Get out into the market and really understand your market, customers and competition, etc.
  3. Get a great mentor or coach.
  4. Keep learning and developing yourself as a Product Management & Product Marketing professional.

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.

Nothing Happens Until Someone Sells Something: Best Practices to Enabling Your Sales Channel to Effectively Sell Your Products

The following presentation is from my AIPMM webinar on Nov 1, 2013.

Too often, those of us in the product marketing role are not doing enough to help our sales team or sales channel be successful. Our typical approach to helping is to provide a new salesperson with some marketing collateral and a product presentation and then wish them luck as they look for prospects and try to close deals with anyone that listens. This approach is sufficient for the star salespeople as they intuitively know how to talk with the right potential buyers about their problems and then show these buyers how to solve these problems with their products or services. But unfortunately, this only represents about 20% of salespeople. The other 80% of sales people need more training and coaching to be successful and we as product marketers need to help them be successful. This is the process of “Sales Enablement”.

What happens when we don’t engage in the sales enablement process? Sales people pursue opportunities that don’t fit well with your solution, speak with the prospects that aren’t really decision makers, sell solutions that you don’t really have and the list can go on. But the overall resulting impact is wasted time and effort in pursuing the wrong opportunities, confusion in the market place and poor sales results.

How to Create Sales & Marketing Tools That Sales & Customers Will Actually Use

The following is my AIPMM webinar from Oct 4th, 2013.

According to the American Marketing Association (AMA), “Up to 90% of collateral created by marketing is never used by sales.” That is an astounding statistic which should be a wakeup call to those of us in Product Marketing that we need to be doing something different. Most of the time, sales doesn’t use our tools because the tools are ineffective, and the reasons for this include:

  • Too many companies create a standard checklist of marketing and sales tools based upon what someone used in a past company, without any consideration as to what is really needed in this company.
  •  Too much content is about the company and their products with little discussion about the buyers and users and what they need.

Keynote Address at ProductCamp Minneapolis 2013 – All of the Responsibility, But No Authority: Get Over It and Lead

I was honored with the invitation to deliver the keynote address at ProductCamp Minnesota on Oct 19, 2013.   I decided to leverage some of my earlier blog posts and present on Product Management Leadership.   I hope you enjoy my thoughts and appreciate your thoughts on the topic.