Harsh But Good Advice for Budding Product Managers and Product Marketers
I have been in the game of product management and product marketing for a while now — 13 years. Over that time I have learnt a thing or two and have made just as many mistakes. One thing I do know is that these roles are awesome. This is what I love to do.
What is not to like about these kinds of roles? You work with essentially all other business units, you drive strategy for the business through your portfolio, you get to work with lots of customers, it is a highly visible role and it usually pays pretty well.
Naturally though, there are expectations on you to perform. That is fair enough of course. With great power comes great responsibility (insert lame quote — check). But a not-so-great part of the role is that you are expected to take onboard everyones ideas about the product: how it should look; what it should do; who we should market to; how big the screen capture should be on the brochure, blah, blah blah…….
Everyone has an idea on what a product should do or how to pitch it. Ideas are like arseholes — everyone’s got one. I am here to tell you that if you want to be a great product manager or product marketer you need to start reciting this phrase……
Your opinion, although interesting, is irrelevant.
Your opinion, although interesting, is irrelevant is a phrase I learnt, September 2001. I recall the time well. I travelled to the U.S. from Australia to attended a Pragmatic Marketing training course. Product management/product marketing training options in Australia were non-existant then. Jim Foxworthy was my instructor that shared these sage words. I find them as relevant today as I did back then. It is good to see Jim still at Pragmatic Marketing. Although he is not an instructor anymore, he is the President.
When it comes to prioritising what goes into a product, or which market to address and what is perceived as genuinely valuable you have to block out the noise coming from inside the company. If they ain’t gonna pay then they ain’t got a say. Get your direction from the actual people who will part with their cold, hard, cash — the customer.
Oh, and this goes for your own opinion as well Mr Onlyi Knowitall Product Manager or Ms. Ive Gotaplan Product Marketer. Temper your zeal for creative flair with cold, hard facts from real buyers in the market before slapping that business case on the bosses table or sneaking in that backlog candidate.
But hey, I am not saying ignore great ideas coming from your work colleagues, or what you conjured up in the shower last night. This is really great stuff. But, these are IDEAS ONLY until you have tested them in the market and you can succinctly describe the meaningful value your customers will enjoy — in the customers language.
So, 13 years on and there still isn’t a face to face training course on great product marketing in Australia. To fix this, my friends at Brainmates and I decided to make one. There is a bunch of great processes, steps and tips that have served me well to draw on….. along with some great theories I took away from an MBA at AGSM.
A course is scheduled a couple of months from now. To learn more about what is included and to register you can find out more by clicking here.
This blog was originally published on medium here.
Build Business : Build Brand : Enable Organisation
As Product Marketers and go-to-market professionals there are so many things we could be doing today. Sometimes it is difficult to know which activities are the most meaningful and which should be prioritised. With a few points of consideration though, we can ensure we keep our eye on the prize and use our time and resources wisely.
Every organisation has fundamental objectives. Perhaps it is revenue growth targets, customer engagement targets, profitability, or perhaps a service level agreement. A basic rule that helps ensure product marketing activities are grounded in what is most important is to ensure product launch objectives are aligned to an organisations fundamental objectives. This not only ensures that your go to market objectives support the organisations overall objectives, it is critical when you need to secure essential collaboration from other departments. Seems basic, but if a product marketer does not ensure organisational alignment of go to market objectives then securing interdepartmental cooperation is going to be very difficult.
The tenets I use to ensure go to market tasks are supporting the execution of a strong product launch are: Build Business, Build Brand, Enabled Organisation. If an activity does not fit well into one of these tenets then perhaps it shouldn’t be done. Continue reading...
The Ultimate Value Creators and Customer Advocates
The process of promoting a product is fundamental for any business, but it is surprising how uncommon the role of Product Marketer is in many Australian organisations. Often, the task of launching a product or owning a go to market plan is shared across numerous roles like sales, marketing, product management and engineering. This is the challenge that needs addressing.
How many of you have experienced this scenario? A new product version is ready for release. To promote it the Marketing and Communications Manager gets a copy of the product features list from the product manager. This is then used to draw up a press release (including glowing quote from the product manager), an updated data sheet and a slide deck for a ‘What’s New?’ webinar. Voila, campaign ready. Naturally, the market respond poorly and another campaign falls flat. What is wrong with that picture? There is no value. This campaign is a typical example of an internally focused, feature-fuelled jibber-jabber fest. Continue reading...
We recently interviewed Sean Richards, Brainmates’ latest facilitator who will be training the Ready, Set, Go To Market course. The training choices for product marketers and go to market professionals were very limited in Australia and since Sean has a wealth of knowledge and experience about product marketing, we decided to create Australia’s only face to face product marketing training course.
Here’s what Sean had to say.
You have held leadership positions across product management, product marketing and field marketing for a number of years now. What advice do you have for product and marketing professionals who want to enhance their go to market effectiveness?
I think a major challenge for any go to market professional is cutting the clutter and establishing clear, measurable objectives. The product marketing function is not well drawn in Australia. Some companies invest in well defined roles with clear responsibility. Often though the ownership of a go to market program is scattered across sales, product management, engineering, marketing or perhaps even a founding leader of a small business. Continue reading...
In small business, every person, every resource counts. Every activity needs to make an impact on the business. If it doesn’t, stop it immediately. Course correct, identify and work on activities that help us reach our desired goals. If we don’t, we are simply wasting limited resources doing something of no value, which may have huge consequences on the business such as cash flow.
In small business, it’s always a race from the bottom.
Whilst the cusp of failure may not be as apparent for large business, I would hypothesize that a large business is equally concerned about the effective utilisation of resources.
In the context of Product Management, how might we become impactful as Product Managers?
One way I manage my effectiveness and to make sure that the work I undertake everyday has impact, is to create a simple weekly activity list. Continue reading...
- 07/28/2014 - 4 Steps to Creating a Product Roadmap (Part 1)
- 07/25/2014 - Confessions of a Small (But Mighty) Business Owner
- 05/23/2014 - Lost In Translation