2010 has been a fantastic year for product blogging. During the course of the year, I have tried to highlight several posts every month that are worth your time to review. Usually, I look for posts that bring up new ideas to consider or ones that help remind you to not forget about the basics.
All total, I have shared 53 posts this year that have offered valuable lessons when it comes to building better products and helping your customers understand your product story.
While I still recommend reading them all, I spent the last weekend going through them and have picked my nine favorite product management and product marketing blog posts for the year. Enjoy!
Outside-in-view, A New Roadmap to Consider:
As I peruse my product roadmap, I was thinking about what the benefits would be for a product marketing roadmap, how would we change behaviors? We could start product positioning sooner, define the product benefits, do internal education while product is being developed, test potential messages as we test the features – matching critical product launch elements to the product roadmap process.
Spatially Relevant, You wouldn’t even read your own case study:
While case study candidates are hard to find, fluff pieces immortalized in Adobe aren’t that helpful to most sales people or buyers. Try to better understand why someone/a company might want to do a case study. It’s not that hard, just ask them “So why are you looking to do the case study?”
Where the Product Management Tribe Gathers, Transparency isn’t Invisible:
However, in many organizations, product management is relegated to “hoarding requirements” and nothing more. Why? I believe it’s due to the fact that the team hasn’t built a level of transparency within its organization, product management leadership doesn’t effectively or consistently know how to get the right information into the hands of senior management and executives, there’s limited understanding as to the value of product management and finally, by human nature we often collect or horde information and hold on to it until we feel it’s time to share or someone asks to give the information. What can we do to improve transparency in product management?
Software Product Manager, Friction points – Why customers don’t buy from you:
As product managers, it is important for us to realize that unless we reduce our customer’s friction points of doing business with us, we are not going to be successful. And the friction points may not always be related to the product, but it maybe within the ecosystem of your product – whether it is customer support, documentation, order management, sales support etc.
Rocket Watcher, A New Marketing Framework:
As I’ve been working with companies on marketing plans however, I’ve wondered what something similar to the Pragmatic Framework would look like from a purely marketing point of view. I took what I’ve done with companies and what I’ve seen smart marketers around me doing and constructed a marketing framework that looks like the diagram below. Also, you lean startup types should note that this is applicable for companies that are beyond product/market fit.
On Product Management, Why I hate that Henry Ford quote!:
You’ve heard it before haven’t you? It gets used all the time. Even Steve Jobs has used it in interviews. Unfortunately, the people who use this quote most often seem to be people who think they have all the answers or want to quash any discussion about getting outside validation of ideas or plans. They speak it as if it is an absolute rule about not asking questions to customers or others in the market.
Tyner Blain, Rupert Murdoch – Zero; John Nash – One:
Understanding your market involves not only knowing what problems your customers face, but also predicting how your competitors will behave. Competitive analysis is not just capturing a snap-shot of their products and positioning today, but also forming predictions of how they will respond to the disruptions you will create in your market by innovating. Markets are not static – you have to understand both how your customers’ needs will evolve and how your competitor’s offerings will change, in order to understand how your product will perform.
A huge contribution to outcomes is to be the expert on your buyers. Product marketing managers are often confined to the four walls of their offices with little contact with real buyers in the market. Set a quota that requires them to interact with potential buyers, outside the office and write up what they learn. Start with eight or ten per quarter. These are interactions that are not conducted as part of a sales call.
The Accidental Product Manager, Many Happy Returns: How Product Managers Can Make Product Returns Work For Them
When too many of your customers start to return your product, then you’ve got a problem on your hands. All too often product managers may take the wrong actions when this situation shows up. One of the simplest (and wrong) things to do is to toughen up you product’s return policy.
The Experience is the Product, Don’t Forget the Hidden Customer(s):
If you’ve done persona / target customer exercises, you probably have a pretty clear idea (or hypothesis, at least) of who the people are who will be using your product. You know their pain points, what frustrates them, their highest priorities. So, in a world where your target customer is 100% empowered to purchase, download/install, configure, and require their coworkers to learn a new tool / adapt to a new workflow, you’re all set.…Hmm.