Dig, Set, Spike: What Volleyball Teaches us about Product Managment/Product Marketing - Larry Concannon at ProductCamp Boston

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ProductCamp Boston, April 2011 ********* …

ProductCamp Boston, April 2011 *********


Ten years ago during the Internet boom years I was invited by the business school I had graduated from over a decade earlier to be part of a marketing career panel with other alumni. In trying to explain the role of product marketing/product management to the MBA students (it is not really taught in b school), I used a volleyball analogy that seemed to help. I'd like to present that as well as lessons learned from 20 years in product marketing/product management...
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Armed with an engineering degree from Northeastern and a shiny new MBA from Harvard, I was unleashed upon the software industry 25 years ago. Since then, it has been a "never a dull moment" existence in the murky world between engineering and sales at startups and emerging growth companies in the greater Boston area: business cases, product launches, competitive battlecards, sales guides, acquisitions, an IPO, etc.

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  • 1. Larry Concannon
  • 2.  Volleyball as a metaphor for product marketing/product management Lessons learned from 20 years in software product management/product marketing Larry Concannon ◦ Spike Product Marketing ◦ 170 Systems (Kofax), Workscape (ADP), Kronos, Allaire (Macromedia), Aimtech (SumTotal) ◦ Northeastern Engineering, Harvard MBA
  • 3.  Dig  Set  Spike ◦ Programmers ◦ Prod. Mgmt ◦ Sales ◦ QA ◦ Prod. Mktg. ◦ Bus dev ◦ Doc ◦ Marcom, PR, ◦ Partners ◦ Tech Support programs ◦ Execs ◦ Services ◦ Press ◦ Training ◦ Analysts Greek Norwegian
  • 4. Strong Potential Winning (acquisition)Product (Dig) Stumbling Colossal Fail along Weak Weak Strong Marketing (Set)
  • 5.  Non-balance leads to problems If Sales rules ◦ Chasing deals, develop what last customer wanted, job shop, not a sustainable business… If Marketing rules ◦ Awareness, pr, adv, parties, leads, etc... Revenue will not meet expectations… If Development rules ◦ Develop “cool” products, products miss the market, market too small..
  • 6.  Dig  Set ◦ Programmers ◦ Prod. Mgmt ◦ QA ◦ Prod. Mktg. ◦ Doc ◦ Marcom, PR, ◦ Tech Support programs PRD/MRD/Spec ◦ Services ◦ Training Product roadmap Build/buy decisions Team meetings Volunteer: test, read doc, etc. Milestone rewards Feedback Protect from distractions
  • 7.  Set Spike Sales meetings ◦ Prod. Mgmt  ◦ Sales Sale training (record) ◦ Prod. Mktg. ◦ Bus dev ◦ Marcom, PR, ◦ Partners Sales tools in use programs ◦ Execs ◦ Press Sales engineers ◦ Analysts Online meetings/demos On site meetings Push info to Sales Contests Syndicate success
  • 8.  Sales is obsessed with competitors Analyst and the press want to put your company in a box with other competitors VCs: “no competitor, no market” Challenge the need for a feature if the only reason is that competitor X has it Focus on what the prospective customers need (known and unknown) Competitive battlecard to hit the highlights Win/loss analysis is key
  • 9.  In market research, the question can skew the results Ex. Phillips and remote controls Ex. HR management software and monopoly
  • 10.  Prospects have pre-existing buying criteria ◦ Ex. 4WD vs. AWD Your installed base has using criteria ◦ Do not rely just on existing customers for research Validate buying criteria Educate customer on using criteria ◦ Ex. Sears vacuum
  • 11.  Ex. Allaire ◦ Product discussion forums (open to public) ◦ Beta forums (any user) ◦ 1997 Ex. Planet PTC Overall executive level advisory board ◦ Kronos’ Marquis,170 Systems’ Catalyst… ◦ Give: discounts on products, services…. ◦ Get: input, advocacy (PR, case study, webinar, conference, etc.) Product/market specific customer advisory board
  • 12.  Sales reps sell for you and to you Sales’ input should not drive roadmap Ex: Aimtech vs. Macromedia (mid-1990s) ◦ Multimedia authoring tools ($3500 to $5000/user) ◦ CBT, kiosks, CDROMs ◦ Macromedia: Mac; added Windows ◦ Aimtech: Windows; needed to add Mac ◦ Dilemma: limited dev resources  Strategic: add Mac  Tactical: add Unix (Sun, HP, DEC, SGI…) ◦ Result: Chased the $$$, believed Unix vendors, failed
  • 13.  Dev discounts value if feature is easy to create Dev overstates value of labor intensive work Ex. Allaire HomeSite and WYSIWYG Ex. 170 Systems and SAP “Table Stakes” Corporate Visions’ “Power Position” ◦ Valued by the customer ◦ Differentiate somehow  Only your solution has it  Proof that your solution is superior.
  • 14.  Map product features to the user ◦ “What’s in it for me?” ◦ Knowledge is power Execs want actionable information ◦ BI, analytics, reports, dashboards, scorecards Ex. 170 Systems AP automation software ◦ Business Process Automation (workflow) ◦ Execs: Business Process Performance Management  “Advisor”: overview of invoices, $$$, and people Ex. HiSoftware compliance management ◦ Compliance with Section 508, HIPAA, other regulations  “Insight”: overview of people and groups compliance perf.
  • 15.  Fast: update a spreadsheet Powerful: changes target markets, perception Dangerous: revenue, margins, profits Ex. Aimtech IconAuthor ◦ $4995/user vs. Macromedia’s $3,500/user ◦ “IconAuthor Select” at $995 ◦ Disaster: limited market size + experimental cust. Ex. Allaire ColdFusion app server ◦ $1,295 vs. free .ASP and expensive J2EE ◦ “CF Pro” at $995; “CF Enterprise” at $3495/server ◦ Expected 75%/25% mix; got 25%/75% mix; revenue soared
  • 16.  Software ◦ Your software (the product) ◦ Other software required ◦ Complementary software available Hardware required Services ◦ Implementation, training and tech support ◦ Hosting ◦ SAAS Expertise ◦ Domain experience: product, people
  • 17. You Prospect- Solution - Increase revenue - Decrease costs - Mitigate risk  How far is it from your solution to the prospect’s core goals?  How convoluted is the path? How easy is it to understand?  Apply the “so what” test and drive positioning and messaging to business value.
  • 18.  Q&A? Other lessons learned? Larry Concannon ◦ www.linkedin.com/in/larryconcannon ◦ larryconcannon@hotmail.com