Friday, February 25, 2011

Market Authority = Credibility + Trust

NOTE:  Following this week's ProdMgmtTalk, Jennifer Doctor wrote an eloquent blog post to expand on her tweet “trust can be earned after credibility is established”.  Here is her posting, followed by my slideshare deck, entitled "Biztegrity" from a talk I gave a while back on the subject of business integrity, which addresses this issue.

Guest Post
by Jennifer Doctor, Principal at Marketing Consortium

In this week’s #prodmgmttalk (a weekly virtual twitter discussion/gathering of people who identify as professional product managers and product marketing managers, globally, held on Mondays) I contributed through a comment that said “trust can be earned after credibility is established”. I applaud Jim Holland for leading this discussion amongst the community following his blog on the subject.  And, I wanted to explain my contribution in a bit more detail.
Credibility is an essential element when speaking with others, when trying to explain a salient point, defend a problem for feature consideration, or offer a presentation to justify a business case or investment. Credibility is necessary regardless the audience.
By learning your market and becoming a market authority, credibility can begin to be established. There is an argument that says that you are hired by your company based on previous industry experience. However, I take the other side (and have offered that position in the past on this site,) and strongly believe that since research is a strong suit of professional product people, it is important for all PMs/PMMs to get out of the office and immerse themselves in the market – gaining that credibility first hand from multiple discussions with multiple customers, and importantly non-customers too. All too often, incumbents, whether they have been in the role a long time or come to a new job from a competitor have preconceived notions that they tend to inflict on the market and they may be faulty (think New Coke). Only by listening, gathering market facts, debating and listening more, can the product manager truly gain independent and accurate market knowledge, understanding and credibility.
Once the market knowledge has been learned, it needs to be expressed. This is where you build the credibility; the credibility that will develop trust. By learning the knowledge, I don’t mean simply retelling the same customer stories at every presentation. I mean, learn the market problems. Take your learning to a new level of understanding. During the same twitter discussion I said the difference is between being able to repeat it versus being able to explain it. And, that explanation comes with an element of empathy. If you can’t empathize with your market problems, how can you really understand the functionality that will help solve the problem? If you can’t feel the challenges faced by your buyers, how can you expect to speak in their language and communicate effectively?
It’s the empathy and understanding that build trust. The trust will be earned because you can show compassion – professionally – for the problems you are solving. You can explain these problems without telling the same stories every time, because you can make the challenge relevant to who is in your audience and listening. You will have gained that market authority because you have the credibility and the trust.
Think of credibility as your listener thinking to himself (hmm, she was right once)… trust comes later after you’ve been proven “right” multiple times.
Albert Einstein said it best, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” You need to be able to understand it so well, that you can explain it to your executive team in a way that is compelling enough to change some long-held (and possibly incorrect) opinions.
Looking in from the outside, there is no trust without credibility. And, market authority doesn’t exist without both. 
Copy of original Posted on February 23, 2011 by @jidoctor

Friday, February 18, 2011

Launching a new product - Beyond TechCrunch

At the January meeting of the Silicon Valley Product Management Association (SVPMA), Chris Yeh addressed the issue of Launching a New Product beyond TechCrunch.  Introduced as one of the smartest guys in Silicon Valley, Chris earned two degrees from Stanford University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.  Chris Yeh has been building Internet businesses since 1995. He has been a founder, founding employee, or seed investor in almost a dozen startups, and advises a wide array of startups ranging from network equipment makers to vertical search engines. Chris is the Vice President, Enterprise Marketing for PBworks, the world’s leading provider of on-demand wikis and collaboration software serving over 85,000 businesses, including 1/3 of the Fortune 500.

Previously, Chris was the first investor in and interim CEO of Ustream.TV, which provides an open and distributable platform for live interactive online video. Chris is also an active angel investor, author of the popular blogs, Adventures in Capitalism (, and Ask The Harvard MBA ( and the founder and Chairman of the Harvard Business School Technology Alumni Association.

Chris opened with the humble statement, “I don’t know if I’m the right guy to talk about launching a new product because product marketing and product management people (in the audience) have all kinds of experience in launching products… but what I do know a lot about is launching a product if you don’t know if there’s an established category, market, or even if there’s a business opportunity.”

Chris went on to pepper his presentation with first hand stories from his startup experience, including before Juno went public, and inviting Michael Arrington to speak on a panel about startups circa 2003/04 when Arrington was not recognizable and TechCrunch was unknown (and not yet sold to AOL).

It became clear that Chris was not addressing the tactical mechanics of how to gain headlines for a product you are launching, or even developing a strategy to bolster the launch, but most fundamentally highlighting the essential ingredients required to produce a viable product.  His talk could have been titled, “Find your Market first, and then develop the product.”  

Chris employed a charming, non-academic presentation style to point to the core distinction that people think marketing is about getting the headline in the Wall Street Journal or TechCrunch, when marketing is NOT about getting press.  Achieving press coverage is neither marketing, nor the causative action.  Marketing is the cause that affects the press to exist. Marketing is about telling an effective story.  He used the example of comparing Pixar’s A Bug’s Life to DreamWorks’ Antz movies to exemplify that Pixar knows how to tell a story that is compelling, entertaining, heartwarming, and effective to a young audience.

Salient Takeaways:
1. Start marketing before you build your product: Build the desire, sense that there is a need in the marketplace, and then fill that desire

2. Identify and develop relationships with key influencers: How long does this process take?  It depends on how much time you devote to it – do it part time, on the side, on the fly – 3-6 months to make a dent depending on how big a conversation you’re trying to affect.  

3. Build reserves of credibility you can tap later on

Identify Your Audience

Before you come up with the product or launch, decide who your audience is.  Who is your market?

1. Find people who are addressable – can you tell me what magazine or paper they read, what event they attend?  If you don’t know, then you don’t have a real market you can reach.

2. What are you telling them? What is your sentence going to be – sum up your product in one sentence – if you can’t boil down the story, more work needs to be done.

3. Why should they believe you? People think they can’t believe “marketing” because they’re paid to say things about the product.  

The Hiten Shah Secret

From Hiten Shah, the founder of Kissmetrics:
1. Be a nice guy that everyone likes
2. Build a product that everyone likes
3. Market before you build the product

Develop Trust

Develop key relationships before you have the product for trust and believability.

Slowly build overnight success: “Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying
will eventually make you look like an overnight success.” --Biz Stone (Twitter founded in 2006)

Become Part of the Conversation

Get inside the loudmouths, the people who control the conversations, the early adopters, thought leaders. To get thousands of followers – try to find the people already in the conversation and become part of the conversation.  

1. Identify the key issues your startup touches
2. Become part of the conversation
3. Cultivate the influencers (follows & replies)
4. Produce (or borrow) compelling content
5. Build a need in the marketplace
6. Launch a product that fills that need, and only then can you
7. Print out the TechCrunch headline for your mom

How to market before you have a product?

1. identify key issues that the product touches upon - something that’s already out there that people recognize, become part of the conversation  - don’t create the conversation, participate in it and then steer it in the direction you want to go

2. Talk about things that already have interest, create compelling content, what excites you?  The headline says something that relates to you

3. Build the need in the market place

4. Launch the product that fills that need, satisfies a need in the market place

5. When you can do that, you can create a headline

To follow Yeh’s advice requires commitment and investment of time and focus to get to know the audience and become known by the thought leaders in order to engage in the conversation in the market place.  Only then can you build the trust and listening to steer the conversation towards distinguishing a need and then launch the product that fills that need.

Yeh’s direct and charming style presents this process as if it were a simple undertaking.  Simple? Perhaps on paper, but not easy.

Chris' slidedeck

Cindy F. Solomon, CPM/CPMM @cindyfsolomon is founder & co-host of the Global Product Management Talk on Twitter, a weekly chat on all things Product Management related. Each week a Product Management star is interviewed & leads discussion on questions posted at Mondays 3-4 PM PST  Follow @prodmgmttalk Search #ProdMgmtTalk

Using Market Insights Effectively

Guest Post
by Adrienne Tan 

 This is a summary of the 2nd Product Management Twitter talk held today, 15 February 2011 (Sydney date).  Here’s the full transcript.

Scott Sehlhorst of Tyner Blain was our second guest discussion leader talking on the topic of Market Insights. He was keen to continue the discussion thread started by Steve Haines last week.

We started off the discussion with a tough question from Scott. “When you’re developing insights about your markets – how do you predict what your markets will look like in the future?

My first thoughts.. Before you predict, best to understand your market today and its current attributes. This in itself is a tough job.

Here are some answers to Scott’s first question:
  • cindyfsolomon: I try to capture competitive space as a starter.
  • rcauvin: Of course we’ll want to get into getting beyond customer requests and look at what insights lie behind them.
  • sehlhorst: I start with a model of market as collection of segments. Grouping personas who share problems (and share how they view / value the problems) that’s my definition of  the ‘market’. I’ve had good success using Kano analysis to group how people think about individual problems
  • davidwlocke: The market moves in predictable ways depending on where you begin. This independent of competition.
  • nickcoster: While markets change quickly, people don’t. We are all trying to do pretty much the same things that we always have. Looking to the future is looking to see how markets are failing to solve customers’ current problems effectively.
  • brainmates: Initially focus on the present and then look into the future. If you don’t solve today’s problems, you can’t begin to solve future problems.
  • cascade_alan: By innovating we can shape the future of the market.
  • mikeboudreaux: Need to consider economic, social, technological trends in the market. Future trends are important for segmentation, targeting, and positioning. Need to consider technology adoption and buying trends if you are targeting emerging markets.
An interesting point raised by Roger Cauvin during the discussion:
“Solutions to current problems often create the problems of the future. For example, the invention of cars created all sorts of problems & product opportunities.”
We agreed with Roger’s point but it’s still important to solve today’s problems today. Whilst predicting and including market trends is important in our overall analysis and product solution, its necessary to firstly identify problems consumers face today.
Scott added:
“We should make it hard for our competitors to satisfy our customers.”
Mike Boudreaux aptly added:
“We need a convergence of research into technology adoption/buying trends & solving today’s problems.”
Cindy posed the question: “Does positioning actually change the market, or the perception of the product in it?
Here are some of the answers to her question:
  • mikeboudreaux: Mature markets vs. emerging markets can impact the positioning of your product – high value vs. low cost.
  • davidwlocke: Positioning filters messages, messages filter prospects/customers/market.
  • rcauvin: Product that uniquely embodies compelling positioning redefines the market.
  • brainmates: It does both. Positioning can change the perception of product but it can also change the market.
Scott’s second question: “How far into the future do you try and anticipate markets – and why that length of time?
  • barrypaquet: Building on mkt, industry, tech trends, I look 4 the disrupter (technology, business model, etc).
  • mikeboudreaux: Consider the expected duration of product lifecycle phases – Introduction, growth, maturity, decline. Need to consider the evolving demands. The world is changing at an accelerating rate. Today’s products are old. Another sure sign of maturity – you start extending to other markets to grow.
  • nickcoster: Market anticipation depends on investment horizon. This should drive lower cost innovation now to guide progress for future. Guessing the market is like guessing the weather. Short term is easy. Long term accuracy is impossible but you can see trends.
  • rcauvin: Part of the agile philosophy is to get solutions out there so you can discover the problems they will create. Part of agile is to get solutions out so you can discover the problems they will create.
  • sehlhorst: Product Management has to be a balance of both prediction and discovery.
  • davidwlocke: No market when looking for validation does not mean ‘do not launch’. It requires a diff approach to adoption. Technology adoption lifecycle lays out the future. Products move at the speed of the adoption of the technology.
The third question: “How do you update your perspective on your markets?
  • sehlhorst: I use mind maps, sticky notes, visio diagrams, lots of notes (in evernote). Really pretty adhoc. Haven’t found good tool yet.
  • mikeboudreaux: Same here. I use MS OneNote because of integration with Office. I also read, read, read… looking for big events that change behavior and consider their long-term impact. For B-to-B, talk to customers about their long term vision and continue the discussion on a regular basis.
  • cindyfsolomon: I use mindjet – will export into word doc, pdf or website for proj mgmt & wireframing.
  • barrypaquet: Iterate: assumptions =>create/refine hypotheses => customer discovery and mkt validation.
  • brainmates: We try to stay engage with what people do and how they behave.
Fourth question: “How do your insights impact your products and activities?
  • rcauvin: Some insights have rendered feature ideas obsolete and replaced w/ entirely new ways of solving problems.
Fifth question: “Any difference in how startups and big companies should approach market definition?
  • davidwlocke: Big companies are affraid to innovate because of risk. Startups don’t have the systems, cost structure, nor the policy structure. Product Management is only part of a big company’s approach.
  • brainmates: Market definition is a process that should be done by startups and big business. Both may not define their market well though .. each have their own unique constraints.
If this was a good read, join us next week when Jim Holland leads the next discussion on Building Market Authority.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Market Insights and Collaboration by Scott Sehlhorst of Tyner Blain

Guest Post
By Scott Sehlhorst 

In this week’s #ProdMgmtTalk, one of the livelier discussion topics was around gaining insights into your market – and what does that mean (to you)? Steven Haines was the speaker for this session who prompted us to think, and pushed us to rethink our views on market insights.  What a great example of collaboration among product managers!


In an email-interview with Craig Brown, creator of the Better Projects site, for an upcoming article, I admitted to Craig that I felt one of my mistakes was not taking advantage of enough of the opportunities we have to collaborate.
#ProdMgmtTalk, a weekly Twitter-chat session on product management, co-hosted by Cindy F, Solomon and brainmates‘ Adrienne Tan, had its inaugural session this week. It was a great forum for collaboration and connecting with some obviously very sharp and seasoned product managers!
I’m thrilled to be the Catalyst of Discussion next week (definitely a more apt title thanspeaker).  Pretty intimidating to be in the slot between @Steven_Haines (transcript of session) and @Jim_Holland.  The rest of the lineup looks stellar too – I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to work with, learn from, grab a beer with, or at least talk with most of these folks already; and hope to do the same with the rest!
One great thing about a Twitter-chat session like this is that when you’re passionate about the topic and want to join in the discussion, you just do – without having to bide your time or risk talking “over” someone else.  Everyone’s thoughts are shared and consumed – often simultaneously.  Occasionally, some contributions go by too fast – but it is great to be able to carry multiple-threads of conversation at the same time, without ever feeling frenetic.
One downside – thoughts are expressed in 140 character chunks.  For many things we do, and think, care, and talk about in product management; 140 characters are inadequate.  And yes, Stewart, I know that 1,000 words probably aren’t ”required”.  There’s probably a happy medium.

Market Insights

Steven Haines, author of The Product Manager’s Desk Reference, got the discussion started with some great questions around “Best in Class Product Management.”  A great conversation thread (multi-thread, really) was started around what it means to have market insights.  In her writeup of the session, Adrienne pulled together a lot of great quotes around the theme.
Combining some of the ideas from the folks in the session:
  • Market data = (data about) the industry, market trends, your competitors, your (existing and prospective) customers, your market segments, and your competitors’ products.
  • Insight = understanding that is distilled from market data.
Unfortunately, the conversation only lasts for an hour.  Not enough for me.  I think there’s an important next topic for the group:
  • OK, you have market insights.  What do you do with them?  And how?

Next Week

Make sure and join in the #ProdMgmtTalk conversation next week (follow the link for times and instructions).
And here’s a tip – there will be a link to this article, as “prep material” for the session.
If you want to seed the conversation with some long form (more than 140 character) thoughts and answers – add them to the comments here.  Folks will read them before the session starts.
Questions to think about prior to talk:
1. When you're developing insights about your markets - how do you predict what your markets will look like in the future?
2. How far into the future do you try and anticipate markets - and why that length of time?
3. How do you update your perspective on your markets?
4. How do your insights impact your products and activities
About the Guest Post Author:
Scott Sehlhorst is a product management and strategy consultant who founded Tyner Blain in 2005 to help companies create successful products. Scott has been creating products for 20 years, first as an electromechanical design engineer, later as a software developer, and for the last decade as a requirements, program, and product manager. You can follow what Scott is writing about at and what he's talking about @sehlhorst on Twitter.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Best in Class Product Management

Guest Post
by Adrienne Tan 
Tuesday, February 8th, 2011 at 2:31 pm

This is a summary of the inaugural Global Product Management Talk held by Cindy F Solomon and brainmates on 8th February 2011 (Sydney date). The full transcript of the event.

Steven Haines of Sequent Learning Networks led the discussion on ‘Best in Class Product Management’ by asking the participants a question that may seem simple but in reality has many nuances.

The first question from Steven was “What do you do to gain insight into your markets?”
Some of the answers:

  • brainmates: To gain insights, quantitative analysis, customer interviews, focus groups, competitor review…
  • nickcoster: 1) Make sure there is a definition of who we THINK the market is. Then make sure we can find someone who fits the definition. 2) Watch what people are doing with product that they were never designed for and find out what they were trying to do. It’s obvious but, ask “why” like a 4 year old. Ask “why” till it hurts. Ask “why” until you find something unexpected.
  • cindyfsolomon: The actions I take depends on the lifecycle of the product – if there are already customers or competitors.
  • piplzchoice: Deep analysis of customer feedback and word of mouth.
  • launchclinic: My favorite are Win/Loss calls. Since most of my efforts on GTM. Amazing what you can learn.
  • sehlhorst: to me – understanding target personas – problems they want to (pay to) solve, and msging that works for them.
Steven defined insights as “to see beyond the data or information”.

Its not sufficient to simply have the market data but Product Management has to interpret and make some sense of the information obtained in a meaningful way.

Through the discussion, Steven felt that the group was focused on the tools used to obtain market insights instead of the activities that enables us to derive insights. Understanding a target persona is a method.

“Insights are derived when you see, observe, feel, or sense. The big deal is “What does it all mean?” 

“Why do people do what they do?” Insight means you ‘see’ into the situation of the three dynamics of the ‘market’ (Industry, Competitors, Customers). Aspects of the market drive insights. Insights stimulate thought. Thought stimulates strategy.” 

Cindy asked “How do you validate your insights so they are not ‘subjective’?”

Perhaps you can’t. Scott Sehlhorst of Tyner Blain likened it to “distilling insight from the vapour of nuance. You can give yourself confidence with stats and data, but judgement skill is still required.”

Dave from Launch Clinic said “think of gaining market insights as a lifestyle change. Not a project.” 

Hakan from Rymatech advised “to avoid subjectivity, make sure insight is comparable (to past trends), justifiable (can explain process used), repeatable”. 

The second question that Steven asked the group was “What’s the most important thing you ever learned from analyzing market data?”

Here are some of the answers:
  • Launchclinic: I confirmed I didn’t have a market for a product I inherited. Killed it. Not popular.
  • Cindyfsolomon: Learned from analyzing market data – to stop supporting Mac users and focus on Windows users – painful decision.
  • Barrypaquet: What NOT to build.
  • Sehlhorst: Got out of that business :( . shame, too – cld have developed different approach. lesson learned for me
  • NickCoster: Learning that the original target market for a product was not the right target market.
  • Steven_Haines: One thing I did once? I fired a customer! Also, another thing I did… I figured out that product marketing wasn’t able to do their job!
  • brainmates: Learning the hard way… for us… making sure we don’t sell to the wrong customer. Can never make them happy.
  • HakanKilic: Loser from revenue (market dried up or moved) or not enough margins to meet company objectives?
The third question Steven posed was “Anyone ever combine market research and financial data to make a more informed decision?

For some of us, this equated to the business case. Steven said that this could also be a strategy paper.

More was discussed but a definition of market data ensued. Steven defined market data as “industry + competitor + competitive product + market segments + customer targets.”

brainmates added another attribute. “Market data also includes market trends.”

According to Steven, “every Product Manager and Marketer needs to harness i + c + cp + ms + ct and make a story about it! I call it ‘Market story’. Market stories provide themes, and gives reason to insanity.”

What does market insights and market data have to do with Best In Class Product Management?

Well.. gathering and interpreting market insights is part of the DNA of a great Product Managers.

 -----------------Thank you Adrienne!

You can view the entire ProdMgmtTalk for Feb 7, 2011 here: Full transcript pdf 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Press Release: Global Product Management Talk Launches on twitter with author Steven Haines


Global Product Management Talk Launches on twitter with author Steven Haines

Author of Product Manager’s Desk Reference uses social media to discuss best in class product management at first weekly Twitter talk

San Francisco, CA, USA  3, February, 2011 -- Steven Haines, founder and President of Sequent Learning Networks and author of the groundbreaking book, The Product Manager's Desk Reference, will be the guest at the first weekly global product management talk on Monday, February 7 at 3:00 - 4:00 PM Pacific Standard Time on twitter @prodmgmttalk #prodmgmttalk

Author of The Product Manager's Desk Reference launches event

Each week, ProdMgmtTalk features an expert guest speaker who raises questions to stimulate the twitter discussion.  Product management expert and practitioner, Steven Haines, author of The Product Manager's Desk Reference, is "speaking" to launch the weekly event on Monday, February 7, 2011 at 3:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

"My mission is to improve capabilities of people who create, market, and manage products and services, and the companies in which these people work. At Sequent Learning, we created the Product Management Exchange (PMEX) to inspire product managers, marketers, and other practitioners to share their unique experiences. ProdMgmtTalk can be a valuable tool for extending hard earned lessons to an international community of people in companies with products."

Tweet traveled 7400 miles

The Global Product Management Talk was conceived by Cindy F. Solomon, a San Francisco Bay Area certified product manager and Adrienne Tan of brainmates, an Australian product management company, to bring international product managers together with experts in the field.

Solomon explains two things that prompted her to tweet a request to collaborate creation of a product management twitter talk, "Online, I attend #blogchat and #pr20chat twitter talks with hundreds of people. The conversation and connections continue beyond the event. Offline, I participate at Product Camps, where product management, product development and product marketing people come together for a day to share expertise and experience."

In Australia, Adrienne Tan founder of brainmates responded to Cindy's tweet request to collaborate and provide an avenue for Product Managers to converse and debate on a global scale. "brainmates is a team of passionate Product Managers that are looking for new ways to enrich the Australian Product Management community. ProdMgmtTalk on twitter gives the Australian product management community a weekly opportunity to interact with international colleagues."

How to Participate in ProdMgmtTalk

More information about the ProdMgmtTalk is available at the website, including the speaker schedule and how to use twitter and participate in twitter chats at  To participate in ProdMgmtTalk, join twitter and follow @ProdMgmtTalk where the topic questions will be tweeted prior to the event and there is a steady stream of tweets relevant to managing products. During the event, add #ProdMgmtTalk to tweets. You can follow the twitter stream at and review the transcript from the event at

For More Information:
Cindy F. Solomon

About ProdMgmtTalk:
Weekly twitter chat on all things Product Management related. Co-hosted by Cindy F. Solomon and Adrienne Tan. Each week we interview a Product Management evangelist who leads us in discussing a particular topic. The Product Management expert tweets answers to pre-posted questions during the hour, while everyone chimes in on the tweet stream.

About Steven Haines:
Steven Haines is the founder and president of Sequent Learning Networks, a training and advisory services firm with an international clientele, based in New York City. He has over twenty-five years of corporate experience in finance, marketing, and product management. Haines honed his craft in industries as diverse as wholesale industrial products, intimate apparel, medical products, communications, and software & technology, holding leadership roles at AT&T and Oracle. Further, he spent twelve years as an adjunct professor at Rutgers University’s business school. He holds an undergraduate degree in Management Science with a minor in Organizational Behavior from Binghamton University and an MBA in Corporate Financial Management from the Lubin School of Business at Pace University.
Sequent Learning Networks
222 E. 46th Street
Suite 501, New York, NY 10017

(212) 647-9100

Product Management Exchange (PMEX)

About brainmates:
Founded by Adrienne Tan and Nick Coster in 2004, the two devised a mission to help companies understand their customers’ needs and develop innovative products that their customers love. With over 20 years of Product Management experience, they lead a dedicated team of Product Managers who are committed to providing services to clients to do just that.
brainmates - product management people
suite 906, level 9
84 Pitt street
sydney nsw 2000

Product Talks

About Cindy F. Solomon:
Cindy F. Solomon founded an automated broadcast advertising company in NYC before the age of 30 after selling microcomputers for Tandy Radio Shack and developing a newsletter about technology for Boardroom Reports. Cindy has held technology marketing management positions with Apple, Vadem, NetObjects and several start-ups. Cindy is a Certified Product Manager and Certified Product Marketing Manager who provides soup to nuts product marketing strategy and social media implementation.
Cindy F. Solomon

Product Camps