Posted on | May 16, 2013 | Leave a Comment
“Achieving Competitive Advantage by Patenting Your Inventions” with Pat Bhatt, CEO and Founder of Skyaccountant
By Pushpa Chandrashekaraiah
Pat provided very good guidance on how to manage an Intellectual Property Portfolio. He specializes in product innovation and owns 15 patents. He discussed Product Managers’ role in identifying and initiating patent applications within organizations.
The first question he asked SVPMA attendees was whether any PMs have patents. There were a number of people that owned patents as PMs, so, he easily made a point that patents are not limited to engineers and PhDs.
Pat mentioned that most of the product managers focus on checking off the items from the roadmap, but Read more
Posted on | May 7, 2013 | Leave a Comment
Why is Product Management So Undervalued until a Moment of Crisis?
By Greg Geracie, President of Actuation Consulting
Over the last 20 years I have noticed the same cycle play out time and time again. Organizations of all sizes continue to undervalue the product management function until they face a moment of crisis. Typically this takes the form of a change of control, difficulty scaling, and an almost endless variety of other possible combinations.
This situation is understandable in organizations that are migrating from start-up mode to a mid-sized organization as the CEO or founder was likely playing the role up until this point in the company’s evolution. However, it’s less understandable in organizations that have successfully achieved scale. Yet, it’s clear that organizations of all sizes continue to struggle effectively implementing successful product management organizations that Read more
Posted on | April 25, 2013 | Leave a Comment
“APIs: Opening up Business and Providing Avenues for Growth”
Panel discussion moderated by Delyn Simons, VP, Developer Platform at Mashery with:
- Daniel Jacobson, Director of Engineering API, Netflix,
- DeVaris Brown, API Product Manager and Evangelist, Zendesk,
- Rich Manalang, Developer Advocate, Atlassian
- Sam Ramji, Vice President, Strategy, Apigee.
By Cindy F. Solomon
Delyn Simons created the Mashery API Network, an open data commons of RESTful APIs and an ecosystem of 200,000 web and mobile applications developers. She invited the panel to discuss advantages and pitfalls of APIs, issues Read more
Posted on | April 18, 2013 | Leave a Comment
Face Off: Value Propositions vs. Persuasive Messaging: Why Your Value Prop Is Losing and What to Do About It
by Michael Cannon
Every company wants a great value proposition, the proverbial magic bullet that gets you in the door and gets you an order. The trouble is that most value propositions are more like blank or copper bullets. They don’t perform well. Read more
Posted on | April 4, 2013 | Leave a Comment
Part Two of 9 Strategies to Increase Marketing Effectiveness:
Enabling Greater Competitive Differentiation and Faster Revenue Growth
By Michael Cannon
In part One; we reviewed the 4 biggest obstacles to improving marketing effectiveness and the solution to the first three root-cause issues including:
- Poor visibility into the true cost of ineffective customer communication
- Lack of clear differentiation among messaging, content, and tactics.
- Inaccurate model of the categories, styles, and types of messaging required for market success.
Part 2 takes us through 4-9:
4) Misguided priority setting. Messaging is not seen as the only Read more
Posted on | March 22, 2013 | Leave a Comment
“Build Better Products and Services Through ‘Optimal’ Customer Feedback” with Greg Ryan, Marketing Consultant and former Cisco Product/Research Manager
By Lisa Rathjens
Greg has over 20 successful years in the product manager sphere in a wide range of industries, at companies like Cisco, Schlage Lock, JD Powers, Nissan, Plantronics, and K2 Skis. He is passionate about helping companies improve product quality and success through customer research. His presentation addressed following four steps: why collect feedback, planning and preparing to gather feedback, how to gather the data, and types of research to consider.
Using colorful examples from his time at Cisco, K2, and Schlage, Greg relayed the “why” of gathering direct customer feedback, whether the customers are existing or prospective. Of course, it is important to gather customer feedback to know what product to build, but you also need to gather it to know how to sell that product. Gathering the right kind of feedback will help you understand the features and functionality your customers want, and it will help marketing and sales teams create more effective, targeted messaging. Greg cited “Winning at New Products” by Robert Cooper that claims the “#1 cause of new product failure is insufficient or faulty marketing research”. While many high tech companies are at their core engineering driven, they also need to be market and customer driven in order to sustain and build on initial product success.
In discussing the importance of preparation and planning before gathering customer feedback, Greg summed this up in a three-word admonition: “Do your homework!” This means asking the right questions, listening carefully to customer input, and reading between the lines. Customers will often provide only hints of what they want, and you will need to work to dig out the real needs, even if it seems wrong to you initially.
To design an optimal customer feedback process in your company, Greg identified nine required steps. The process starts with (1) selling the benefits of gathering customer feedback to your internal org, including engineering, senior management, and other stakeholders. This will help you in many ways, not just avoiding “poor” product design but also leap-frogging the competition, increasing “share of wallet,” and increasing customer loyalty. Next, you need to be sure your product has (2) an executive sponsor who is customer-focused as well as (3) champions and customer evangelists across the organization, in all the stakeholder teams. These allies will be invaluable when product schedules get tight or budgets become constrained, and customer-requested features may be at risk.
When determining what feedback to gather, you need to (4) look at the entire customer lifecycle, starting from when your customer becomes aware of your product all the way past purchase, to service and support calls. Selecting a targeted customer panel to gather feedback can be very helpful, but you will also benefit from a well-crafted survey of a much broader customer group, to be sure that you get feedback from all the actual users of the product. Further, before the product is even built, you need to (5) get involved in the requirements definition, to be sure to bake the customer perspective into the PRD, MRD, betas, field trials, etc. Be sure to consider not just customers, but (6) anyone who interacts with the customer, such as partners, sales, marketing, and services teams.
Assessing the process and drilling down on the pain points is easier when all the stakeholders have agreed to (7) a predefined set of goals and metrics, which are customer-defined. These should be realistic, and should benchmark the competition. Greg challenged the group that (8) some portion of compensation should ultimately be tied to customer feedback and a satisfaction metric. Finally, a successful customer feedback process needs to include a final step that (9) closes the loop both externally with customers and internally with the execs. Let the customers know what actions you are taking based on their input, and let the execs know how you measure and track the results.
When designing your customer feedback research project, there are numerous considerations, determined by your product, target market, and customers. The methodology you choose, the sample size of your customer group, the wording of the questions, the method of delivery – all these and more will influence the success and value of the feedback you gather. Only use small focus groups to collect qualitative data, such as establishing terminology, setting goals, testing major features with important customers, etc. Then validate that data by collecting quantitative feedback, always using a large group of customers that provides a broad cross-section of your target market across geographies and segments. The type of information you gather will vary, depending on if your product is new or existing, how and by whom it will be used, and the profile of the customers across geographies, business segments, etc. Key to your success will be focusing less on the product itself, and more on the customer need that the product is intended to fill.
In conclusion, Greg reiterated that the customer must be at the top of the hierarchy in any product planning. If you do your homework, listen to the customer, and keep all product stakeholders focused on your customer’s needs above all else, then your product will be a success.
Lisa Rathjens has spent the last 15+ years in the midst of the explosion in mobile computing, working at Palm and then Motorola. She focuses on designing and building products and services that encourage and enable developers to build apps that delight and surprise, and that people love to use. She is currently looking for her next great adventure, and can be reached at: email@example.com and http://www.linkedin.com/in/lrathjens .
Posted on | March 6, 2013 | Leave a Comment
9 Strategies to Increase Marketing Effectiveness: Enabling Greater Competitive Differentiation and Faster Revenue Growth – Part One
By Michael Cannon
The question, “what do we need to do to make Marketing more effective?” has been a topic of discussion in articles and books for decades. The most recent reincarnation of this topic resides under the banner of sales and marketing alignment. And, while there are many good ideas for “what to do”, true improvement remains minimal, according to over a decade of research.
The problem is that we are asking the wrong question. Read more
Posted on | February 22, 2013 | Leave a Comment
February Event Review: “Solving Complex Problems with Simple Pictures” with Dan Roam, Founder and President of Digital Roam Inc.
by Dan Galatin
Dan Roam, Founder and President of Digital Roam Inc., presented at the February 6th meeting of the SVPMA. Dan discussed and demonstrated how we can quickly and easily visualize the essentials of any problem we need to solve, no matter how complex, by following a few simple guidelines.
Dan contended that we can say more by using fewer words and more pictures. We can break seemingly complex problems down Read more
Posted on | February 7, 2013 | Leave a Comment
“Is There An Ideal Relationship Between Product Management and User Experience?” Part of the ProdBOK® Series
By Greg Geracie
As a follow-on to my “Focusing on the End User: Product Management and User Experience” featured article, the conversation continues with Rich Gunther, president of the User Experience Professionals Association (UXPA) and Sean Van Tyne co-author of the Customer Experience Revolution. You can read part one here.
Why did you choose to contribute to the ProdBOK effort?
(Rich Gunther) As president of the User Experience Professionals Association (UXPA), I feel it’s important that my organization collaborates with professional organizations that represent other disciplines within the product and service development space. Since we do work so frequently with product management, contributing to their body of knowledge effort seemed to be a natural fit. We hope to get input into our own User Experience body of knowledge from those behind the ProdBOK effort.
(Sean Van Tyne) I see experience design as an important part of the product management and marketing lifecycle process. I hope that my contribution has brought some clarity to what experience design means in the context of ProdBOK.
What do you think the ideal working relationship between user experience professionals and product managers should be?
(Sean Van Tyne) That can vary based on many factors. For example, a small organization in a new market may partner with an experience design firm to help them with their experience research and design needs while a large organization in a mature market may have a large, dedicated experience design department. If experience is important to an organization’s market success – like Apple or Disney – then they may have a Chief Experience Officer. If experience isn’t as important – like embedded technology – then they may not have experience design at all or a small department that reports into Product Management or other department. Some product managers may do some or all of their product’s experience design or work with a consultant or professional in another department. What is “ideal” is what makes the most sense based on the organization’s experience design strategy and goals.
(Rich Gunther) If you can envision an activity where a cross-functional team is defining a feature to be added to a product, I see there being an iterative workflow whereby the product manager says “we need to support such-and-such”. The user experience professional picks that strawman up and defines a task-flow and proposed design for it. After a checkpoint with the product manager to make sure it will fit the bill, they’ll also likely have a checkpoint with development to make sure their proposal is technically feasible. Finally, before implementation, the product manager and user experience professional will collaborate in some user research, taking the design for the proposed feature and putting it in front of some representative users. Those users will offer commentary on both the market fit of the feature as well as its usability. After a prototype is developed, the product will be tested again to ensure that the final user interaction fits user expectations. Finally, product managers and technical writers can collaborate to develop documentation and marketing materials for the feature.
Any final thoughts?
(Sean Van Tyne) I look forward to seeing the ProdBOK getting out there and helping to bring clarity to the product management and marketing profession.
(Rich Gunther) Thank you for the opportunity to contribute and we at UXPA look forward to future collaborations!
Greg Geracie is the president of Actuation Consulting, author of Take Charge Product Management©, the Editor-in-Chief of The Guide to the Product Management and Marketing Body of Knowledge (ProdBOK), and the leader of this initiative. ProdBOK is an industry-wide effort to standardize the practice of product management sponsored by the Association of International Product Management and Marketing (AIPMM).
Posted on | January 31, 2013 | Leave a Comment
“5 Easy Steps to Make Your Customer Communications 30 to 50% More Influential”
By Michael Cannon
We have all seen the research reports from IDG, AMA, etc. that say about 50% of our customer communications, content and sales conversations, are not relevant to their needs, and that over 50% of the content Marketing Read more