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Customer Success = Our Success

Posted on 29 September 2015 at 6:56 by Sean Richards

Customer Experience Product Marketing

Incorporating CX into Marketing

Launching a new, game-changing product is intense. Have we got the messaging right? Is the market really there? Is the product mature enough for launch? It is the time when all of your decisions, assumptions and beliefs about the market and their needs are put to the test. It is a time when product managers, product marketers and marketers to start to sweat.

For our new product at Mandalay it’s crunch time. It has been a month since launching and, well, the best-case scenario didn’t happen. Engagement at the top of the funnel looks good, the market is engaging with us; reading blogs, attending webinars engaging in Q&A. To date though, the trial signups are low, with sales lower.

What does this mean? Well, it means our initial assumptions about market adoption were perhaps too ambitious. It also means what we do next is of critical importance.

Our primary research of the market suggested there is a need for our new product. I sign up to Michael J. Skok’s approach to establishing a value proposition: the need for a solution like ours is both unique and compelling. What is not so clear is the urgency of the need. There is clearly some inertia we still need to resolve to improve adoption.

The next step for us was to expand our marketing capacity and establish a dedicated customer experience (CX) program around the new product. Placing CX under marketing is really the cleanest option from the customers perspective. Buyers engage with the organisation first through marketing channels; they engage with marketing during their buyer journey, all the way to a purchase decision. By having CX integrated into the overall marketing strategy we have the opportunity for CX activities to be incorporated along the buyers journey, past the sales point and through to advocacy development. Placing CX under marketing seems to be a growing trend according to recent research by the Economist.


Right Data, Right Time

Marketing automation plays a big part of the CX program. The online engagement intelligence we gather in Hubspot is essential insight needed to better engage our trial users and buyers. It helps us understand where someone is along the buyers journey so that we can chose where to directly engage, offer assistance and respond to enquiries with rich insight.

But, CX is not just there to nurture prospects to adoption and then to addiction. Currently, it is the most important source of market intelligence for our new, infant product. We are engaging with every trial user, requesting time to talk about their experience. We are learning what they like about the product, and what they dislike. Is the product delivering on the initial promise? What could we do to make it easier to adopt? Etc.

It sounds counter-intuitive to say in this digital age of online, automated, big data marketing but the most valuable data we are gathering at this time is from 1:1 user phone calls. Phone calls! This, good-old-fashioned, analogue, manual process of qualitative intelligence gathering is currently the most essential insight we can get to grow the product the right way. The product is in a precarious early stage of life. Those users that try or buy now are our potential innovators and early adopters.

Being the lead of a small team of marketing and CX I have the opportunity to call customers as well. The most recent one was just last Friday. The feedback was detailed, constructive and invaluable. My write up went straight to Slack for everyone in the company to review and synthesise. Everyone involved in the product can use that insight and drive the right change at the right time with our two-weekly sprint cycles.

It is true — you learn faster and deeper from speaking directly to a customer than you will from any broader scale market research activities.

“You’ll learn more in a day talking to customers than a week of brainstorming, a month of watching competitors, or a year of market research.” Aaron Levie, CEO

Right Buyers, Right Time

I am a bit of a fan of the Diffusion of Innovation concept. If we direct our resources to the right types of buyers at the right time then we can avoid going scattergun and wasting time and effort on misdirected activities and other forms of panic marketing.

Innovation Adoption

For now, we need to get to know our innovators and early adopters, guide their success and nurture their advocacy. It is with their help we can reach the early majority and late majority buyers — where profitability becomes a more relevant metric of success.

When I am not leading the Marketing and CX activities at Mandalay Technologies I am hosting the Ready, Set, Go to Market training course on product marketing. You can find details on course dates and locations here.

This blog was originally published in Medium.

Tagged in:customer experience, CX, Marketing, Product marketing

Product Manager & Product Owner, The Dynamic Duo

Posted on 25 September 2015 at 8:52 by Adrienne

This perspective that the “Product Manager is the Product Owner” is ruining the roles and the effectiveness of many Product Managers in organisations that do not understand either the importance of the Product Manager role or the Agile Product Owner roles.

Importance of Focus

In the military there is a separation of the leadership team of any unit between tactical and strategic command. There is an officer who is defining their unit’s strategy based on their larger strategic objectives of the unit size above them. The non-commissioned officers (NCO’s) are there to make sure that the unit achieves them. Both levels of leadership work in partnership to achieve the same goal, but the separation of focus allows the each role to define priorities things differently.

In a well-run restaurant there is a separation of the leadership of between the front of house and the kitchen. The Head Chef is manning the pass, calling out orders and ensuring that all meals are delivered in a timely fashion to the right people at the right level of quality. The Restaurant Manager is taking bookings and is seating customers, to keep orders flowing steadily to the kitchen in a manner that should not overwhelm them. Both of these roles work together to achieve the best business outcomes.

“Product Owner”

Whether we like it or not the Scrum Methodology selected the term “Product Owner” as the development teams business and customer representative that would work directly with them to manage the priorities of the current sprint (Backlog Management) and to assist with any non-development clarifications that may need to be made.

This desire for the solution team to have a closer connection with the customer and the business is perfectly appropriate since without it the team will either build the wrong solution, or come to a standstill while a prioritisation or a decision is made somewhere else. This is exactly the purpose that the Agile Product Owner role was created for.

But the important thing to remember here is that it is a NEW role. Not an extension of the old one. It is like adding the missing link to a broken chain. Adding a specialist linking role can fix the problem but stretching and already stretched chain to fill the gap will only cause more strain or breakage elsewhere.

Product Manager + Product Owner. (A Dynamic Duo)

Brian from Aha suggest that having a separate person perform the Agile Product Owner role is a splitting of the Product Manger role. The Agile Product Owner role is a completely new and valuable professional specialisation that is necessary for the effective running of a Scrum team. The Agile Product owner must work with and communicate with the Product Manger to ensure that the strategic intent of any solution that is developed meets both the customer and business goals.

The Product Manager will explore the marketplace and the competitive environment in search of the next opportunity to deliver value to a selected Target Market and the business.

The Product Owner does not need to select a Target Market but they do need to understand them, their goals and the context in which both current and future solutions are being applied.

The Product Manager needs to make strategic trade-offs around which products/features to keep and which ones to retire. The need to develop and understand the cost benefit and opportunity trade-offs of every decision.

The Product Owner does not need to determine or champion the intended return on investment of the solution, but they will be bound to deliver customer and business value within budgeted costs.

Hire a Professional

If you are planning a home renovation it may be tempting to get the architect (High level view) to stay on and help run the project and work with the various contractors to do the structural building, lights, plumbing, and painting (etc). But you don’t do that do you. It is not because you don’t want to split the role but because the role of a building site manager and an Architect are completely different roles.

The same applies to the difference between a Product Manager and an Agile Product Owner. These are both vital professional roles in any organisation (agile or otherwise). But don’t think for a second that you can save money by hiring one person to do both. Get professionals that specialise in each role AND ensure that they work together members of a team (because they are) and fire them both if they don’t.

Bonus Resources:

Tagged in:Product manager, product owner

PRODUCT ROADMAPS: What Are They Good For?

Posted on 24 August 2015 at 8:36 by Sean Richards

Brisbane Product Talk Meetup

Summary of Product Roadmaps Discussion from Recent Product Talks Meetup in Brisbane.

This was our fourth Product Talks meetup in Brisbane, since it started late 2014. The topic this time was Product Roadmaps: what are they good for? Here is a summary of the evening’s discussion.

As host, I kicked things off with a little theory (to get it done and out of the way) as a basis for discussion. The definition of a product roadmap is:

‘Product roadmaps act as the bridge between the product vision and strategy and the actual tactical product development projects that are undertaken in the pursuit of attaining the product goals.’ ProdBok

Cutting through the detail; the key takeaways from the group of what a roadmap is, were:

  • An intent, not a promise
  • Carry much expectation — use wisely
  • A living document
  • Covers the short, medium and long term of a product vision
  • Roadmaps are commercially sensitive

When it came to what product roadmaps are good for, again there was some great discussion. Product roadmap adoption can vary greatly from organisation to organisation. It was clear there was also a bit of evolution at play. For some there was an internal roadmap, but not yet a version ready to be shared with customers or external stakeholders.

There were some first-timers in the group last week, including organisations like Foxtel, Halfbrick and ABC News. They added to the chorus of conversation around the use of roadmaps… or lack thereof, in operations today.

Here are some key points from the discussion on what roadmaps are good for:

  • Business alignment
  • Product portfolio prioritisation
  • Focus
  • Accountability
  • Communication
  • Instilling customer confidence

For me, I think it is imperative that your customer gets to see a roadmap. Of course this can vary from market to market. But, from my experience in a B2B enterprise software space, my success and that of my customer are intertwined. Our customers are people: they have objectives, goals and ambition. They need to know they have backed a winner — a provider that will help them be successful. An external roadmap, well considered and effectively communicated, can show a customer where the product is going. To confirm that our journeys are aligned.

A few other concepts were covered during the evening: BCG Matrix and Product Lifecycle.

product lifecycle

Basic Product Lifecycle

Ultimately, a documented, communicated roadmap is a line in the sand. It is an attempt to align stakeholders; get everyone on the same page; and an objective to strive for.

The product manager is responsible for a product roadmap. Their ability to perform will be judged by how well a product meets the needs of the target market. A roadmap is really the best tool a product manager has to align the business and validate an intention to deliver. But, that roadmap will only be effective if it is dynamic (but not fluid), aligned to the needs of the market and is delivered against, consistently.

Product Talks Brisbane brings together the growing community of Product Management professionals in Brisbane and those who want to learn more about this vital function. The Product Management domain touches many areas of an organisation and is misunderstood or poorly defined in many of them. You can learn more about the Product Talks Meetup here.

When I’m not launching products or mingling at Product Talks I am probably hosting a Ready, Set, Go to Market training course. You can learn more about this dedicated, face-to-face Product Marketing training course here.

Tagged in:brisbane, Product managment, Product Roadmaps

How to Create a KickAss Product Management CV?

Posted on 5 August 2015 at 5:46 by Will Reilly

At our last Product Talk, we were lucky enough to get not only a presentation, but also listen to Anthony’s first-hand advice on creating a new KickAss Product Management CV.

Anthony Sochan has spent approximately fifteen thousand hours recruiting. In those fifteen thousand hours, he’s looked at over fifty thousand CV’s. Since 2010 alone, a thousand of those CV’s belong to Product Managers. He has years of experience in Product Management teams, recruiting with and working with over thirty local businesses and international companies, and has a personal interest in start-ups. That said, Anthony’s knowledge is undoubtedly an awesome resource to use when building your next Product Management CV.

Here’s what he had to say…

• Before you begin building your CV, you must first question who your audience is. Try to understand who these potential audience members might be because once you’ve captured their attention, your CV gets noticed. Furthermore, your CV is not just going to be looked at by one single individual. It needs to have the flexibility that can capture multiple personalities.

For example, you go to Seek and find a job you like. Once you’ve applied for that job, your CV goes into a recruiting system list where it sits in purgatory and it feels like nothing happens for you. Nothing happens because your CV is among hundreds and possibly thousands of other documents just like it. Eventually, it will go through a typical order of people between the moment you’ve applied for the job and the moment you’re hopefully asked to interview. Because your CV will go through this stage, you need to build a single CV to effectively engage three different personas. In this scenario, these three personas are:

1. The Recruitment Consultant
2. Human Resources Manager
3. The Hiring Manager.

• A CV is about getting noticed, but a recruiter is likely to have hundreds of CV’s and maybe a few hours to go through them. This means that your CV will have less than 10 seconds to get noticed. The goal is to get someone engaged in your CV immediately! Think of it as marketing document and not a biography.

So how do you stand out among the rest? The answer is simple: get yourself noticed!

In order to get yourself noticed, be reflective of who you are and all that you have accomplished. The first page needs to state: exactly who you are, what you do, and how well you do it. Your audience should have a basic understanding of the investment you have in your work. Details can be added on the following pages- where attributes like your passion, discipline, ideas and tenacity can be exemplified by the impact and measures of successes. Although you want to keep your CV short and to the point, you can still engage your audience by balancing this approach with some flavour. If you’ve kept your audience engaged for longer than 10 seconds, they’ll be able to note how driven you are. If people can see drive, they are more likely to give chances.

• It seems like there’s an endless list of factors to consider when constructing your CV. Your language needs to be precise, you font needs to be attractive, your wording needs to be appropriate, and that’s just getting your checklist started. However- and perhaps more importantly- it’s crucial to instead remember that a CV must be easy to digest, easy to extract information from, include a list of achievements and be considerable in length. You can tweak, add and delete later.

• Remember: a CV will not get you the job, just the interview.

Do your research about the position and company you are applying for.

• Have the mindset of an interview process that allows your ability and capability to shine over your years of experience.

• The discipline of a Product Manager is always changing and evolving, so be able to illustrate your professional development through this.

Anthony Sochan’s rules regarding Product CV’s:

Rule #1: PM’s make shit happen, so demonstrate that in the CV.
Rule #2: PM’s often have lots of skills, so don’t be afraid to show them off.
Rule #3: Don’t be too serious, let a bit of personality shine!

Anthony Sochan’s Ten General Rules to Get Noticed

1. Less than 10 years of experience: 2-3 pages
2. More than 10 years of experience: 3-4 pages
3. Give yourself a title
4. All personal details (name, address, LlinkedIn, etc)
5. Page one summarises who you are
6. Pages two through four expands on your experience and credentials
7. Show how you develop your craft
8. Love what you do and do what you love – passion is everything!
9. Keep it simple
10. Focus on the great things you have done

Tagged in:Product Management CV

3 Cool Things I Learned From Doing Hubspot Inbound Marketing Certification

Posted on 7 July 2015 at 10:45 by Sean Richards

Inbound Marketing and Product Marketing

Inbound Marketing?

This is a fairly marketing-centric post.  But, for those Product Mangers and Product Marketers that are looking at Marketing Automation and Inbound Marketing principles, or have already begun to use it then perhaps you will find it a quick and interesting read.

Marketing Automation?

Product Marketers need to continually think through how they will connect with their target market. Research suggests that 67% of the buyers journey is now done digitally (SiriusDecisions, July 2013).

The game today is to educate and enthuse buyers online.  That requires good quality content, available through the right channels, to reach the right people.  For that to work you need a slick marketing operation.  Marketing Automation is an emerging discipline that is giving marketing operations a chance to be nimble, broad-reaching, responsive and data-driven with their engagement efforts.

Anyway, I finally got around to doing my inbound marketing certification for 2015 through the Hubspot Academy. I completed the examinations for both the Inbound Certification and the Hubspot Certification for 2015.

There were three cools things I learned about in the training. Even though I kind-of knew about them, I didn’t really appreciate the power they offered:

  • Progressive Forms
  • Custom Contact Properties
  • Smart CTA

To read the full blog go here.

Make sure you stay up to date with the latest news about our Ready, Set, Go to Market Product Marketing training course.  It contains principles and tools that help Product Marketers use Inbound Marketing principles for great go to market plans.

Tagged in:Go To Market, marketing automation, Product marketing