59: Find the tipping point in your research

I bet you’ve found yourself in this situation. You’re trying to get your head around the main user problem your new product is going to solve. The thing is, for every question you try to answer, several more questions arise.

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Needs, features and benefits

I’m currently teaching a lively bunch of budding product managers over at General Assembly.  After each class, I’ve been setting them a blogging task to sum up their understanding of what they’ve learned.  I thought it might be fun to level the playing field a little and open myself up for a little critical retribution.  So here are my musings on the first topic we covered: needs, features and benefits. Continue reading

33: The Field of Dreams is fiction

I’m writing about one hundred things I’ve learned as a product manager.

I was chatting with someone the other day about what it meant to be a product manager, not so much in terms of abstract qualities, but about their day-to-day role in a start-up and whether it differed much from working in a larger company.

In a start-up, I suggested, money is tight, so a product manager has even more responsibility than usual to ensure that, by the time the expensive development work starts, you’ve already done the product discovery.  It’s crucial to have a solid idea of what the product needs to be to solve the market problems identified.

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The 8 traits of a successful web API

I’ve been talking to web developers, engineers and product people about APIs.  After all, they’re the ones using them.  From our discussions, it’s clear that the best web APIs share some common traits.  Would you like to know what’s going to make yours more successful?

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Link of the Day: Pricing your product – it doesn’t have to be so complicated

 

Lovely article from Joel Gascoigne about why startups should just start charging from the outset, and why it’s not that big a deal to evolve and change pricing later on – as long as you don’t screw over your existing customers.

Have a read here: Pricing your product: it doesn’t have to be so complicated.

How to get your sales team selling value instead of discounting

Does your sales team sell your products (like, in exchange for money), or does it give them away as generous sweeteners to guarantee the sale of something else that will hit their targets?  Or to put it in another way, does your sales force truly understand the value of your products and can it articulate the benefits to the customer?

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What should product managers keep an eye on in 2011?

Happy New Year!

I was recently asked what I saw as the major trends, changes, challenges and opportunities for product managers in 2011.

Product managers working in different market sectors, countries and sizes of company will have their own take on this, so here’s my Top 5 from the perspective of a large-ish Business Services company operating in the UK.

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The thorny issue of pricing

Ah, pricing. Always a thorny topic for product managers as it’s one those more subjective areas of the job. I’d love to have some kind of oracular spreadsheet that foresees how much customers would be willing to pay for my new product. Ironically, I would pay good money for such a thing…

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4 key ways to spot a successful product manager

How’s my driving?

As a product manager, how do you know you’re doing your job well?

Depending on your personal motivations you may want to know for your own satisfaction, to give your boss evidence at your next pay review, or to give your résumé some teeth for your next job.  This article outlines the problem with traditional metrics for product managers and offers some better alternatives for measuring success: communication, ideas, roadmapping, launch and end-of-life.

Simon, courtesy of GraphJam

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Pay attention to local requirements

I was reading the Evening Standard last night on the tube home. It’s a filthy habit, but it  avoids having to make eye-contact with other Londoners. For the uninitiated, social interaction was seemingly banned on public transport in London several decades ago.

While I freely admit that the quality of journalism in the Evening Standard is precisely what you’d expect from a free newspaper, one article (with coherent sentences and everything) about how 3G iPads may not roam around the EU due to a legal technicality started me thinking about the extent to which local details can affect the successful launch of international products.

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