The Dreaded Zombie Product

At every company I have been at with some history (more than a decade or two), I have found there to be at least one product that is long beyond the “Milk it” stage. Orders have dropped off, and customers have moved to either a different technology, or into a replacement product. Of course, you still get the occasional batch of orders for it, thus the hesitancy to discontinue it formally.

The development of a product should follow a lifecycle from investigation, definition, to alpha, then beta and production. You will note that I didn’t say “and finally, production”, that is because there is one more phase that is difficult to actually achieve, obsolescence or discontinuance.

Read more

Strategic Marketing Definition

The words “Strategic Marketing” evokes grand ideas and concepts. But as with many phrases, there is more than a little bit of ambiguity in the perception of those who hear it. Different groups within the organization will likely have quite different interpretations of “Strategic Marketing

Sales

When Sales hears the term “Strategic Marketing,” they think that means helping them sell more to what they know they can sell, focusing on the obvious, proven strengths and strong markets. They think of you helping them find more opportunities that are invisible today.

Read more

Managing un-sexy products

If you follow the #prodmgmt or #prodmktg hashtags on Twitter, and the ever increasing variety of product management blogs, it would seem like every product management job is some leading edge, hyper tech start up product that is positioned to be the next Facebook, (or Dropbox, or {insert cool cloud technology}).  However, it is much more likely that you work at a company that has a history, and that you will find yourself managing a ho-hum product, in a market that you may not be super excited about.

Example:  A foolish mistake on a recent trip found me without my toilet kit.  Yep, I forgot it hung in the bathroom.  Apart from my electric shaver, there wasn’t anything worth crying about.  But it did mean I needed to replace my shaver.  Bummer.

Read more

Five little words

Five little words. “That feature doesn’t sell products“. Seems innocuous enough, but it is the death of product development when uttered by engineering.

Product Management is tasked with defining what a product should do, what features are needed, and how to compare/differentiate vis-a-vis with the competitors. We write requirements, and guide them into and through the development process.

All to have engineering remove features that they don’t believe drive value. Unfortunately, engineering often isn’t cognizant the concept of “whole product“. That beyond the core widget are the services and traits of the product that extend the offering, and provide the unique value proposition, thus enticing the customer to choose to purchase your product or service.

Read more