Getting blindsided in product management

Assumptions, differentiation, differentiation, Marketing, Product Management

When an idea for a product or service is our baby, even though we ask ourselves and all our team members of the possible issues that the product (or service) may have, we miss out on some of the most elementary things. This generally happens because all our team members get involved in group think.

For a product management guy getting blindsided by this kind of mistake ends up being most expensive , as you don’t realise “what hit you”. What you think as an essential differentiation could be a worthless factor which increases costs.

On the other hand two simple mechanisms that I use to try to exploit all the possible lacunae or weak spots in my thinking are:

  1. Red team, blue team: In thisI make it into a game where I have one team specifically work on figuring out all the items about my offering that the other team can utilise to beat my product. This is the same concept that armies of friendly countries use during their war games. Once the fatal flaws are identified, you then go about correcting them before you get into the market. Sometimes in these exercises, I have also heard comments like – “there is nothing about your product that we even need to bother about, we can beat it very easily”. If you hear this kind of a comment, it means you are in deep trouble. If your internal team doesn’t think your product has any strengths, then you better figure out something new.
  2. The second method I have found useful is to get a finance guy to figure out the plan and numbers. Typically finance guys are very good at doing a post-mortem and want artefacts for every assumption for all their bills. They will ask you for all your background checks and will help you surface the assumptions.

Getting internal people telling you all the possible negative feedback helps you build a much better product offering.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Single Target Market- once again

B2B, differentiation, Marketing, messaging, Product Management, route to market, segmentation, single target market

This is such a major piece in any market plan that I  cannot lay enough emphasis on the topic. I have already written a lot of posts on just this one topic , but there’s so much at stake in your plan with just this one concept that its critical that you get this right.

Some would call this segmentation,  some would call it finding a niche.  Call it by whatever name,  the idea is to start in a minimum viable piece of the market, learn everything and then expand. Never ever try to address all segments at once.

You can segment by geography- so choose only one location to start, or you could look at a vertical industry to start with if you are in the B2B market.

One useful way to find the Single Target market is also by usage. Suppose you have a service and as an example say you decide to focus on New York City. But NYC has 9 million people. So you could then either break it down by identifying the neighborhood because different parts of NYC have different buyers in terms of paying capacity.

You could then go further down to see if your service is for first time users, or for emergency usage, or a a replacement service etc.

Once break it down to such granularity each interaction with a prospect becomes a learning and you can quickly understand and test different messaging, different media etc. so that you can quickly dominate the market.

If you are in anyway responsible for product management and going to launch a new product or service or in marketing in a similar situation first get clarity on this aspect.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

What’s better….process or outcome

differentiation, Frameworks, ideal customer, Positioning, segmentation, single target market, Uncategorized

In our world of monthly or quarterly targets, where we are we marked in every week’s review meeting, it gets very enchanting to see the outcome without noticing the process and inputs.

Sometimes good processes can also lead to bad outcomes because of the randomness in the market that you are targeting . For example you may have identified the single target market , you would have planned your marketing activities for the long haul, you would gone about systematically educating your market, you would have identified the positioning by doing the correct segmentation, but suddenly an unexpected event occurs and throws your complete plan out of gear. The COVID-19 pandemic threw so many launches out of gear. No process can predict this kind of a situation.  But because of the right process, while we couldn’t go ahead with our original OEM we now have an even more responsive OEM to launch our offerings. 

On the other hand I have had situations in my life, where I was scared, because we had short circuited the process , because of lack of time, but still got amazing results. That was also a result of randomness or luck where a certain trigger of a government deadline moved all our inventory in no time. We made a lot of profit also.

Sometimes you need to tweak processes to make them more responsive for the increased pace of product launches. However I am of the belief that we need to map the process for a product launch. It could be directly from the books by Philip Kotler or it could be built on your experience but having a process ensures that you don’t miss any step.

Tell me in the comments below, what is your view.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Just Ask …. you never know – Part 3

differentiation, education, ego, Fear, Marketing, Product Management, single target market

Today we will come down to the exact reason, why this idea is critical for anyone in marketing, product management or sales. This quality is absolutely critical to know and understand why someone is not buying from you, or why someone is not referring customers to you etc.

Marketing and product management teams have to ensure that their product / service sells in the market. That there’s a demand for their product or service on a continuous basis.

If the product is not moving then it becomes imperative to check out the prospects on why they aren’t buying from you. Is the category itself not moving or only your product within the category.

A lot of time guys in the field assume it’s price. That’s the first statement you will always hear if your product is not moving with respect to the competition in the same category. It’s very rare that people get out, in the field to ask questions to the prospects.

Like I mentioned in the first two posts , most of the times, it is our ego and our fear , which stops us from asking the questions. Asking the right questions in the market is key to getting your marketing right. If inspite of all the systematic planning you do, with identifying the single target market and identifying the differentiators and also educating your prospects, then its critical that you get down into the market and systematically ask a large cross section of the market, on what is the hinderance in wanting to buy your product.

A lot of times its just the perception, that is causing people to resist what you have to sell. Sometimes its lack of knowledge. But you will not be able to address these things if you don’t ask. Curiosity is not always a bad thing. And curiosity to know why the product that you are selling is not moving is absolutely essential for your business.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!