December 18, 2017

Making a Big Mistake in Product Positioning?

Recently, I was at an entrepreneurial networking meeting and I saw this written on a whiteboard.

Common Misconception in Product Positioning

Common Misconception in Product Positioning

I apologize for the low quality image, but it shows a process of where your start with your product, then you determine how to position in your product in the market, which then drives your promotions for your product.

When I see positioning presented like this, I want to cringe, as this is such a common misconception of positioning.   The common mistake is that positioning occurs after the product is defined.   My response to that is, “how do you know what product you should build if you don’t know what position you want to achieve and with what market segment”.   That determination of target market segment and desired position can result in completely different products based upon those two key decisions.

So allow me to share some additional background.   The early definition of positioning by Trout and Ries clearly stated that positioning occurs in the mind of the customer.   And I agree, that ultimately, the customer (the market) owns how they want to position your product in their mind.   But our goal as product managers and product marketers is to select our desired position and effectively use our Ps of marketing (Product, Price, Place, Promotion) to influence our product’s desired position in the mind of the customer.

The mistake that people make, including some very smart marketers, is that they look at positioning as being primarily driven by promotions.  While in some consumer markets with commodity type products, where you are focused “principally” on making an emotional connection to your brand, this might be true.  But in most markets, you must leverage all of your Ps of marketing to build and support that position in the market.  Thus before you completely define your product, pricing strategy, promotion strategy and channel strategy, you need to first decide upon your positioning strategy.

Many people will argue my above point by stating that they are lean and they are iterating themselves to Problem/Solution Fit or Product/Market Fit.   And I agree that in opportunities where they is uncertainty around the problem and the right solution, you have to iterate through various positions before you arrive at the right Fit.

Why do I say iterate through positions (Positioning)?  If you read the standard format for the positioning statement (as created by Geoffrey Moore), the components include both your value proposition and your competitive differentiation.   Those are key decisions that you can begin to iterate through before you even know what your solution is.  Theoretically, I can, and should, define and validate my product positioning before I even know what my product (solution) is.

My Message – Start by defining and validating your desired product positioning before you formalize your product solution!

Please see more about my thoughts on positioning and go-to-market strategies on my SlideShare presentation.




Real Product Managers Don’t Twerk

Twerking was the Runner Up in “Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year” (after Selfie) and is a sexually provocative style of dancing.

So what does Twerking have to do with Product Management and Product Marketing?

I would suggest that the reason most people (especially celebrities) Twerk is to attract attention to themselves.  While this often does create immediate and significant buzz, does it create long term value and long-term fan loyalty for them?   And when Twerking no longer shocks, what is the next shocking thing they have to do to keep attracting attention.

From a Product Management & Product Marketing perspective, Twerking is when we take actions with our products or marketing that might create short-term attention, but don’t create long-term value.  We take tactical actions that don’t necessarily support a solid growth strategy.  We trade-off the long-term reward for a short-term gain.  When we do a product or marketing Twerk, we might gain some temporary attention, and attract some eyeballs , but have we really created long-term sustainable value and customer loyalty?

How do Product Managers/Marketers Twerk?  

We Twerk when we:

  • Add cool features or a new cool user interface to our products without considering the value for our customers;
  • Invest a lot of money in a one time marketing action (e.g., dotcom Super Bowl adds);
  • Do marketing that entertains, but doesn’t inform or persuade the prospect (e.g., dotcom Super Bowl adds);
  • Chase the shiny objects (market opportunities) in the market without regard to our overall strategy and the true viability of the opportunity (can I say dotcom boom again).

All of these might create a short-term win, but rarely do they lead to creating long-term value.

I know your asking, “But Tom, don’t we need to create buzz in the market?”   Yes, of course you need to create buzz in the market, but it should always be done as part of an overall strategy.   Sure, there are examples of companies creating long-term success from short-term buzzes, but those tend to be the exception and not the rule.   You best bet is focus on a clear strategy that delivers long-term value and find ways to create buzz that support that strategy.

The next time you make decisions around product enhancements, new market opportunities, market messages or a marketing campaign, take a moment to consider, are you creating true long-term value based upon a well defined strategy, or are you just Twerking?  Executing solid Product Management and Product Marketing practices is the foundation for successful strategies.

Hmm, now that I think about it, would I consider this blog post a Twerk?


BTW – Please share your favorite Product or Marketing Twerks in the comments below!!

Webcast: Profitable Products Sell Value: Why Value-Based Pricing Wins – August 13, 2015

Pricing is the fastest and most effective way for companies to increase profitability.   Studies show that a 1% increase in pricing has a greater positive impact on profitability than does a 1% increase in sales volume or a 1% decrease in costs.  Unfortunately, too many companies think tactically about pricing and do not effectively price for profitability.  In this webinar, we’ll discuss common mistakes that companies make in pricing and identify best pricing practices that will enable them to maximize company profitability.

Key Takeaways from participating in this webinar:

  • Understand key principles for defining pricing
  • Connect your pricing strategy to your Go-to-Market strategy
  • Discover ways to define your price based upon your value proposition


Webcast: Great Requirements Form the Foundation for Successful Products – July 16, 2015

Every once in a while, we start using a product that totally enchants us.  We feel like it fits us perfectly and we never want to put it down or quit using it.   It’s just that amazing.

What makes products like this so amazing?   What is the secret ingredient?   Is it the design and user experience (UX)?   Is it a new technology that was used?   Maybe it’s a new and innovative way for doing something?   All of these elements are essential to making products that we love, but rarely do these elements happen without a strong foundation of excellent requirements.

Excellent requirements start with a “deep and intimate understanding” of our buyers and users in our target markets.   Excellent requirements continue when we create a “shared understanding” of our buyers and users with those people who will design and develop the product.

In this webinar, Tom Evans will share ways to develop that deep and intimate understanding of buyers and users and then share techniques to communicate those requirements to enable the designers and developers to create amazing products.

Key Takeaways from participating in this webinar:

  • Understand how bad requirements can lead to bad products.
  • Learn multiple techniques for developing a deep understanding of your buyers and users.
  • Identify multiple techniques for communicating requirements to the solution development team to ensure that they understand the context of your target buyers and users.


Define a Powerful Go-to-Market Strategy That Sets Your Product Apart – June 25

Your Go-to-Market Strategy is the foundation that defines how you’re going to compete with your product and win in the market.  But all too often, companies jump right to defining their product or marketing tactics without a solid foundation of strategy.  And even when a Product Manager or Product Marketer makes an attempt to define a Go-to-Market Strategy, too often, it’s created without solid evidence or without the depth necessary to make it compelling.  And because different stakeholders have different ideas and definitions for a Go-to-Market Strategy, they are unlikely going to satisfy the expectations of all stakeholders.

In this webinar, we’ll help you to create a clear understanding of what a Go-to-Market Strategy is and what Product Management and Product Marketing need to do to create a powerful Go-to-Market Strategy that will set their product apart from the competition.

Key Takeaways from participating in this webinar:

    • Develop a common definition for a Go-to-Market Strategy that can be shared with your organization
    • Learn the seven elements that go into a complete Go-to-Market Strategy
    • Understand the essential steps to creating your Go-to-Market Strategy


What “Levers of Control” Do Product Managers & Product Marketers Have to Drive Revenue & Product Success

Way too often in the world of Product Management and Product Marketing, we complain that we can’t take responsibility for achieving revenue and success metrics for our products as there are too many factors outside of our control.

  • We can’t make Engineering develop the right product with the right quality!
  • Salespeople will sell what they want to in order to maximize their income!
  • Marketing is so focused on making pretty stuff, they forget about our products!

While we don’t have direct authority over any of these roles, we do have “Levers of Control”, that when effectively used, will better align your key stakeholders to support the success of your product in the market, enabling you to take responsibility for Product Success.

Your “Levers of Control” are directly tied to the Foundations of Marketing.

  • Market Analysis
  • Go-to-Market Strategy
  • 4 P’s  – Product, Price, Place, Promotion

Please join me for my Webinar on Thursday, April 23 – The Strategic Role of Product Management & Product Marketing and learn what these levers of control are and how you can use them to make yourself a more Strategic Product Manager or Product Marketer.

Register for Webinar

In the following months, we’ll address each one of these levers of control in more detail via my Go-to-Market Webinar Series.



Developing a Deep Understanding of Your Target Markets: The Starting Point for Great Product Management & Marketing – June 11

In my April 23rd Webinar, I presented the importance of becoming more Strategic as Product Managers and Product Marketers.  The starting point for this is to clearly understand our target markets.  Too much activity in Product Management/Marketing is guided by our own assumptions, internal discussions and anecdotal information.  If we are serious about being great Product Managers & Product Marketers, we must develop a deep (or dare I shall say intimate) understanding of our target markets.  In this webinar, we’ll show what you must learn about your target markets and how to do it?

Key Takeaways from participating in this webinar:

  • Learn the 3 key points you must know about your target markets
  • Discover essential frameworks that will allow you to effectively describe your target markets to sales, marketing and executive management.
  • Understand how this understanding leads to great Product Management & Product Marketing


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.


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.