Worst Product Management Practices: part 1

product management cartoon

product management du jour

I’ve kept this tattered Dilbert cartoon strip on my office wall since 1996.  It’d be a lot funnier if it weren’t so true.  Every marketer strives to be sales-driven.   However, that doesn’t mean that you should embrace a product management discipline that includes changing the product every time a new sales opportunity surfaces.

In my past experiences, 90% of those “if you just change your product, we’ll buy it” sales opportunities end up imploding by the time the changes in the product are complete, anyways.

Worst Product Management Practice #1:  constantly shifting product priorities based on the sales opportunity du jour.

Antidote: Marketing where product requirements are determined by truly understanding which customers are being targeted, understanding their needs and their pain, and knowing what other solutions exist in the market place.

Bad product management practices typically emerge when product management exists in a vacuum – where product managers are unable to say with authority and confidence what the market needs, and why deviating from that is not something to be done lightly or often.  In the absense of an authoritative voice, opinions, whims and guesses will drive product direction.

Knowing the customer and the market needs to be based on a lot more than simply what the latest Gartner or Forrester report says.  Sure, analyst reports (and analysts) are great resources.  You’d be crazy to not leverage such assets.  But if you’re not out there talking to the “real thing” – the people who will be buying and using your product or solution, you’re not doing your job.  It’s the difference between reading a restaurant review and actually eating at the restaurant.  Me – I prefer doing both.

“Know thy customer”.  Possibly the three most important marketing words ever spoken.

One thought on “Worst Product Management Practices: part 1

  1. I completely agree, I blogged about this topic:

    On an episode of TechStars one of the companies gets flown to meet Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter. When asked for a piece of advice Dick offers this up, “Don’t get swayed by clients who will offer $100,000 more if you offer a bunch of features you really weren’t planning on building. You want to make sure you don’t get this barnacle on you that you have to scrub once a month.”

    I’d add, ‘try’ not to alter your road map for a client. As great as the deal is, as much as you want to close it and do whatever it takes to close the deal, once you get into this cycle you will go from being a software/product company to a pro-services company. Once in a while it might make sense, but be careful, once you start to slide down that slope it is hard to turn back.


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