How to design a great product which delivers Wow!

Great Products are a result of a design process which understands that users should get two essential values out of a product.

1. An emotional value (“Wow! I love my iPhone”)
2. A utilitarian value (“A mobile phone…wow, now I can call my friends from anywhere!”).

These are linked so closely with each other that you just can’t have one, without having at least ‘One’ other one!

Now question comes how do you deliver the Emotional and Utilitarian value? Well there are three ways (Which again are related);

Aesthetics

The product looks good, is “fun” to interact with, has smooth transition, a “clean” layout, is symmetrical, feels “professional”, and has a “cool” factor associated with it, etc.

Functionality

It just does things I really value. For example, I value that I can scan my laptop for viruses, though I find it extremely hard how to do so, but I do value that I can do this!

Usability

The way functionality is delivered. Is it effective, efficient, satisfying, and simple?

Majority of the IT companies, and now even the mobile companies focus on the utilitarian value of a product, and the functionality of the product.

They are forced to sneak in as many ‘Functionality Feature’ in a release as they can; since this is the way ‘Success’ is measured for them.

Apple never re-invented the features of a Phone! They just made the experience beautiful!

On the other hand Samsung did the opposite…adding features [primarily of very less usage] will give them success in short run…but the way experience is delivered – it’s a Steve Baby!

I mean its tough for companies too, cut throat competition, a mindset, which puts more emphasis on ‘Features’ and less on ‘Experience’; the companies are forced to follow the path!

A great product delivers a user experience that combines aesthetics, functionality and usability to meet both the user’s emotional and utilitarian needs. So next question is

How do we do it?

I would call it a ‘Fiver’

Expertise – Have in house expertise, or call upon Expert!

Techniques – Use Appropriate techniques!

Leadership and Culture – Appreciate value of UX from business point of view!

Processes – Define processes!

Perspective – Apply principles and process in the broad perspective!

And You?

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You think you have a great Business Idea?

Ok, so it’s all about an idea…as a famous tagline for one of the telecom giants in India goes on to say, ‘An idea can change your life’…well for sure it can, but do you think your idea is indeed a ‘Great’ “Business” idea? What does it take to have your idea a successful business implementation? What are the measures you should run your idea through to see the light at the end of tunnel? The very first question that you should be asking yourself is;

Do you have the passion to see your idea through?

If you don’t, well then you should re-think. Because you should do what you love! If you’re not passionate about it, don’t even attempt it! Say you are passionate, but passion alone will not help…

Do you have the knowledge, required skills, and experience?

If you don’t have these, well networking helps you here…you should stick to what you know, and then try and gather support for your idea! Say you are passionate, and have the required skills too, but

Do you have a goal? What is that you want to get from your business and how will you achieve this?

If you don’t know what do you want out of your business, how will you achieve this…well you need to know that. Because there is no point having a map in your hand, when you don’t know where you are! Ok…so you now you have your goals also…wonderful, and things seem to be coming in shape here…but wait a sec…

Who are your customer? Any idea?

Hmmm, you should get your head immediately in to market research See here Because whatever you do…but if you don’t see or have a good customer base, you are bound to fail! Now comes the cracker…

Do you think your idea is big enough that people will pay for it?

Did you say ‘No Idea’? Well, Start Again , well if you are a millionaire you may not actually, but if you are not…your idea has to make money for you!

Ok, so good to hear that you know who your customers are, but

Have you tried it out in front of customer…even as a trial run?

Well here is an old advice…’Test the depth of water before you plunge in! Test the water with your product or service with a limited trial to gain valuable feedback. The most important measure for me to device the value of your idea is:

Are you making something which is filling the void? Which is able to fill a demand, meet a need or solve a problem?

Did you say NO? Well then why bother even starting with the idea…you should know what you are addressing, what the needs are! And this is my favorite

Can you define your product in 25 words sales pitch?

You said you can, wonderful. Ideally it should not take more than 25 words to define your product. Because Complicated won’t sell.

How about the resources?

Do you have the resources that you would need, the skillsets and knowledge that you are lacking? Where will you source your people, and/or offices? You should have answers for these if you want to have an ideal implementation.

The idea which is yours…is it similar to some other feature or product in market?

Your product must have features that set it apart: it needs unique selling points (USPs) to lure consumers away from competitors! Here is a brilliant video

Another very important thing in managing product is, do you know what are the limitation of your product!?

If you tell me…”No, my product is the best”, well I am sorry, it’s not…even the great iPhone has its own flaws…better you find yours…before your competitor does so… We would come to the logical conclusion of this article in next post…till then Happy Thinking 🙂

UX Principles – Top 4 for my products

While talking about UX principles, I in my product always would go for the following:

Fast : My product should response to any input that has been given by user in sub-300 millisecs

Assistive: You should always give user something to react to, don’t force them to generate their own content

Clear and concise messaging : Always, make sure you’re guiding your users to respective paths on a regular basis. People don’t want to stay on and stray around!

Simplicity: A 1% PM knows how to get 80% of the value out of any feature or project with 20% of the effort. They do so repeatedly, launching more and achieving compounding effects for the product or business.

Why Product Managers are worth their weight in gold

Why Product Managers are worth their weight in gold

Part 1: Product Managers Gold Series – Setting Strategic Direction

This is Part 1 of a series of articles we will publish on the role of the Product Manager within the new product development process.

A Product Manager plays one of the most valuable roles within your organization: managing the ongoing profitability and viability of their product/category. This very broad and critical charge requires attention to specific responsibilities requiring specific skills and talents. This article will focus on the responsibilities as they relate to new product development.

The driving force of a product/category is its strategic direction and framework.  For your company’s innovation/new product development efforts this includes the set of Product, Platform, Market and Technology strategies, as well as Product and Technology Roadmaps.   These elements focus resources on activities that translate into innovative, differentiated and profitable products. A Product Manager that defines and executes appropriate strategies that yield a sustainably profitable product/category is truly worth their weight in gold.

Before your Product Manager gets started

In order for your Product Managers to develop the appropriate strategic framework, they first need clearly stated and communicated business and innovation strategies defined by senior management.

The business strategy defines the long-term direction, or mission, of the organization, how the organization will achieve that mission, and what measurements will allow the organization to identify progress against or achievement of that mission.

The innovation strategy defines in what ways and to what extent the organization will use innovation to execute its business strategy. This boils down to defining what resources and the extent of resources to be allocated to innovation, and the types of innovations or levels of risk the organization will undertake in the pursuit of innovation.

Why is strategy so important? We’ve worked in organizations that have clearly stated strategies and those that don’t.   The difference between the two is like night and day.  If I had to choose two words to describe the company with strategies, and those without it would be ‘clarity’ vs. ‘chaos’.

The organizations with strategies provided clarity to the team and organization.  The strategies provided direction on where the organization was going, and how it was going to get there.  Everyone had their marching orders, they knew what to do and their efforts were aligned.  It was not uncommon to see the Product Managers continually referring to these strategy documents because they provided a framework and an understanding of the resources and constraints they have to work with.

In contrast, in organizations without clearly stated business and innovation strategies we’ve seen a lot of valuable time wasted by product managers forced to develop their product/category strategies in a vacuum, trying to  infer the direction of the organization or worse, setting direction without regard to the mission of the larger organization.  This situation creates chaos for the entire organization as the various functions try to cope with different agendas, different resource requirements and different priorities.

It takes effort and time on the part of senior management to develop business and innovation strategies, but the payoff is tremendous.   Ensure that your Product Managers are well-equipped with the strategic direction of your organization.  They will then be able to develop appropriate and aligned strategies for their products/categories.

The Product Manager’s role in defining new product development strategy

The following content provides an overview of the five key strategy documents that Product Managers should consider when developing their product/category strategy framework for guiding new product development.

Product Strategies

Product strategies help guide your organization in the development and evolution of categories, product lines and products.  The product strategy includes the goals for new product development within each category ( e.g. market share, revenue, new markets), the arenas of strategic focus (the markets, technologies, product types to be focused on), spending/resource allocation for each arena and a  timeline showing the planned new product introductions.

Platform Strategies

Platforms enable your organization to create new products faster and more efficiently by bundling together elements that can be common across multiple product lines.  A platform strategy guides your organization in the development of platforms and derivative products.  The important elements of the platform strategy are defining the capabilities and limitations of the platform, as well as creating the platform’s point of differentiation.  The platform strategy is also an integral part of developing product and technology roadmaps.

Market Strategies

Market strategies guide your firm in the development of markets and distribution channels.  The market strategy defines who the target customer is, what segments will be served, what is the value proposition or point of differentiation when compared to the competition, and what distribution channels are needed to reach the customer.

Technology Strategies

Technology strategies guide your organization in the acquisition, development and application of technology to gain a competitive advantage.   The elements of the technology strategy include identification of the source of technology, as well as the timing of implementation to support the product strategy timeline.

Product and Technology Roadmaps

Product and Technology Roadmaps provide the graphical representation of the current and planned evolution of products and platforms that match market need to specific technologies.   They basically illustrate the portfolio of projects that the organization needs to work on in order to achieve its business strategy and be successful.  It especially helps the organization with forecasting required technology and the skills that need to be acquired.

Communicating the New Product Development Strategy

To be effective, these strategies must be agreed to and supported by senior management, and clearly communicated to everyone involved in new product development. Progress against these strategies needs to be openly and continually monitored, with adjustments made to react to changing market, industry and technology conditions. We recommend monthly new product development portfolio review meetings and quarterly strategy meetings with the Product Managers presenting their findings to the senior management team.

Product Managers have the ability to make a real difference for your bottom-line.   You will quickly realize that they’re worth their weight in gold by 1) Ensuring your product managers have access to business and innovation strategies created by senior management, 2) Ensuring your product managers have the time to create and update their product strategies on an on-going basis, 3) Communicating the new product development strategies to senior management and the project teams, and regularly monitoring progress.

Google Doc on Android!

The Google Docs app for Android provides quick access to your documents and collections stored online with Google. Within the app you can view, create, edit, upload, and share files or take pictures with your Android device camera and directly import them.

Images uploaded from the gallery or camera can be scanned with optical character recognition to extract text and save it to a document. Users of Android Honeycomb can enjoy an optimized version of the app for larger screens.

The Interface

The interface of the Google Docs app is clean and straight forward and not too different from the web interface. A visual overview can be found under > Settings > Quick hints.

android google docs

When you click the little arrow button on the far right of a document, you can preview the respective document and view its details.

google docs for android

Clicking the button will open a little sidebar with document properties, including date last viewed, date last modified, owner, and a list of people who can edit the document. In this view you can also  add collaborators (people or groups), send or share the document, or rename the document. Via the settings button in the top right, you can open or delete the document.

If you want to send, rename, delete, or open a file with an alternative app, press it for a couple of seconds to trigger the menu shown in the screenshot below.

google docs for android

Creating Documents

The Google Doc apps supports creating new documents, spreadsheets, or documents from a photo or the gallery.

google docs on android

When you create a > Document from gallery or photo, the image you choose from the gallery or take with your device camera, can be uploaded as individual file, converted to a Google Docs document and embedded into a new document, or sent to web clipboard, so that you can paste it into a desired location.

google docs on android

When you choose the > Convert file go Google Docs document, the respective photo will be converted to text using optical character recognition (OCR). In theory, OCR is a fantastic feature, but in reality it doesn’t work very well, even with clearly printed text. However, if you experiment with the camera conditions (light, position, size of text), you might be able to get it to work for you. It also is rather unfortunate that the app can not display the source image, which is inserted on top of the recognized text, although it is very well able to display images.

google docs on android

Editing Documents

Editing documents within the app is possible, but it is fairly difficult. Edits can only be done line by line. Finding the right spot can be a bit of a challenge, typically resulting in short flickers of the document and a jumpy keyboard. Moreover, Google Docs does not allow you to zoom in, but forces you to work with the available text size. It must be said though that once the right line or paragraph has been highlighted, moving the cursor to a desired position works very well, unlike in some other apps.

Homescreen Widget

Google Docs comes with a simple homescreen widget. It unites four functions: opening Google Docs, viewing starred files, taking a photo and uploading it, and creating a new document.

In Honeycomb, you can add the widget by pressing an available spot on your homescreen for a few seconds or tapping the + icon in the top right, which opens the widgets gallery. The app is listed as Docs. You can drag and drop it to your desired homescreen.

android google docs

Verdict

The Google Docs app is great for accessing and reading your Google documents. However, I would not recommend to create and edit documents with it. Overall, I find the app very useful and hope that Google will continue to develop and improve it.

Product Press Release – Launch essential

A plus mod 7 Rules for Perfect Press Releases

A modern press release can be a valuable marketing tool for startups and I believe anyone can create a great one.  Here’s how:

1.  Decide Who and Why Before What – Why are you writing the release?  Who do you want to reach?  What would the perfect response be? We used to write releases for journalists who then wrote articles about them.  Today releases go directly to news sites, bloggers and customers in addition to journalists.  The press release needs to stand on it’s own and tell a story.  Once you’ve decided who your audience is, define what you want them to do once they’ve finished the story.  Do you want them to write their own story, click for more information, download something, or make a purchase?

2.  Write A Great Headline – Most people never get past the headline.  If there is one part of the press release that you really need to nail, this is it.  Great headlines are short and grab people’s attention.  The headline should be easy to share – ideally it should be short enough to Tweet (I’d keep it under 60 characters if you can because a Tweet will also include at lease one ID and a short url) or put in a Facebook status message.

3.  Keep it Brief – Get to the point as quickly as you can and stop.  Provide some links to deeper content for those that are interested but don’t try to say everything in one release.  Take out everything that doesn’t add to the story, including quotes from an executive that don’t say anything more than “We’re Great!”

4.  Provide Valuable Content – What sort of value can you provide beyond the company news?  For example, can you provide guides or templates related to the topic you are covering?  Think about the audience you are writing for.  What can you give them that makes the release valuable?

5.  Include Sharable Content – In my opinion the day of the text-only press release is over.  Can you include a downloadable logo, pictures, video?  People will share content if you give them something to share.

6.  Make it Search Engine Friendly (but don’t go crazy) – I generally dislike content that is written specifically for SEO but paying SOME attention to this is important.  The title should be short and contain your keywords if you can, just remember that having a title that people want to click on trumps having a title that contains your keywords.  Your keywords should come earlier in the release, rather than later and include links.

7.  Make it Worth Talking about – Again, think of your press release as a story (rather than the thing reporters write stories about).  What makes that story interesting right now? How does it relate to what people are already talking about?  The press releases I’ve done that have gotten the greatest traction have been either explicitly tied to a current trend or timed such that I knew they would be part of a larger conversation that was taking place.  If you can’t imagine people talking about your release over lunch then it still needs some work.

Product Management – Win/Loss Analysis

Definition

Whilst there is a ton of information about the definition of Win-Loss Analysis, I’ll describe it with a few points:

  • Win-Loss analysis is the process of analyzing a recent customer loss or a win. A process which involves contacting customers after a sales activity and determining what went right, what went wrong, identifying areas of improvement, and discovering what the competitors did right or wrong.
  • It is about taking corrective action in order to mitigate loosing deals in the future and further reinforcing energies in areas of strength.
  • Win-Loss analysis provides the most actionable intelligence information available to a company based on its sales results.
  • Win-Loss analysis provides an accurate measurement of how an organization is positioned with decision-makers and key influencers within customers’ organizations.

Who needs Win-Loss Analysis

Win-Loss Analysis is critical to companies that are characterized by:

  • Strong competition
  • Financial and strategic decisions impact customers’ buying decisions
  • Lengthy and costly sales cycles

Involved parties

Win-Loss Analysis requires involvement from almost all teams and individuals that were involved in the sales process, of course the customer too. Here’s a quick list:

  • Customer
  • Sales
  • Pre-sales / BA
  • Product Manager
  • Others who have interacted with the customer during the sales process

Lead

It is easy to outsource the entire Win-Loss Analysis process to third parties, but small companies prefer to do it themselves. In such a case, it is appropriate to have Product Managers take the lead for the end-to-end process. Product Managers being the creatures who interact with almost every team inside and outside the company would be able to comprehend the evaluation in an unbiased manner and propose appropriate recommendations based on the analysis.

Tools

Win-Loss Analysis does require a few simple tools to get the process going:

  • Questionnaire

– List of questions soliciting answers from customers and internal parties involved in the sales process

  • Analysis Report

– Report based on customer answers to the questionnaire
– Recommended course of action

  • Trending Report

– Half-yearly/Annual
– A report highlighting patterns and common themes in wins and losses
– Recommended course of action

Process Workflow

1. Pick the right accounts

– It is entirely left to us to identify the accounts for this exercise
– There might be obvious strategic and political reasons to include or not to include certain accounts

2. Analyze Win/Loss internally

– It is extremely essential that internal teams conduct discussions before including the customer
– What to ask and not to ask the customer and who to ask questions are a couple of things that can be sorted out in this discussion

3. Prepare custom questionnaire

–  It is essential to have a standard questionnaire to ask customers, and it is even more essential to customize it on a case-by-case basis

4. Interview customer

– The win-loss analysis team interviews the customer
– This could happen in a face-to-face discussion or over the phone

5. Package analysis report

– Based on the answers given by the customer, prepare a report for it
– Make sure to include lessons-learnt and recommended corrective actions

6. Disseminate results within the company

– Share the win-loss analysis report with all key stakeholders in the company so everyone concerned gets visibility into the customer acquisition process and has an idea of the recommended corrective actions

7. Trending report

– Win-Loss Analysis reports for different accounts are like “data points”
– Connecting the dots and identifying patterns in wins or losses will be of significance to the executive team in taking the business to the next level

Benefits of Win-Loss Analysis

Okay, this is the last section of a lengthy post. Some of the benefits of Win-Loss Analysis are:

  • Improve existing business

– Drive product, sales, and marketing decisions by getting empirical and pragmatic information
– Identify current trends in the market place
– Improve competitive advantage & market share
– Increase top-line revenue: get accurate information at the opportunity level that optimizes sales efforts

  • Influence customers positively

– Customers will value the engagement and relationship with us, specifically the lost ones, when the pitch is something like: “Hey customer, we know you have chosen another vendor for the services, but if you could spare some time for us in completing the Win-Loss Analysis it will help us discover the gaps and reasons as to why we lost you and will help us work on those areas which will put us in a position to better serve you in the future when we bump into each other again.

  • Identity the product stand

– Discover strong and weak points in the product
– Make it more competitive
– Influence product roadmap

  • Company processes

– Discover efficiencies/inefficiencies in company processes (sales, product, support, et al)

  • Tap new markets

– Tap new and unknown markets / market segments. This comes from the fact that some customers might have unique needs which we might not even be aware already. In such a case, it is essential to profile the customer and research the need in the market place — may be we will end up discovering completely new market segments which we can go after once we have built the required product capabilities.

All the information in this post has been based on Internet research and my past experience. Your thoughts are appreciated.

Everything is a Product Management

The basis of the post is this: Everything is a product management problem. Not just the product. Not just features. Not just platforms. Everything you do.

The same techniques and skills you use to manage product development can be applied to your startup, your business plans—and you, yourself.

It’s about compromises and resources and time. It’s about ship dates. It’s about controlling feature creep. It’s about making go/no go decisions. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an engineer, marketing, management, or sales. In the startup world, everything is a product management problem.

With that in mind…

Everything is a product management problem

Now, I’m no expert in product management.

I’ve spent a lot (a lot) of time sitting in product management meetings and listening. My primary contribution to product management meetings?

  • Meeting #1: Me: “When are we scheduled to launch? What’s the date?”
  • Meeting #2-#999999: Me: “Does that affect the launch date? Is the launch date slipping?”

Yes, vital component. That’s me.

But it’s good. Because when I keep my trap shut, I actually listen, so I’ve managed to pick up a few things here and there.

And here’s where the worm begins to turn.

So, the other day, I’m staring off into space, thinking about product management, and this occurs to me: Everything is a product management problem.

How so? Well, let me outline some of the high points of product management.

  • Timeline / Road map / Lifecycle. Every product has one. The really good ones detail the life of the product, from conception through demise. On it, you can see every upgrade, every feature, every release, every date. Everything that will happen to that product. This is the plan. For the entire product. Everything that happens occurs here so that it can be seen in the context of the product life. And every change that is made is reflected here. All the new features, all the slips, all the last minute requests, all the executive force ins. Not only is interesting and vital to managing the process, it’s one hell of a document for the post mortem. And it’s the polar opposite of our next item.
  • Trade offs and compromises. This is the product manager’s preeminent skill. Everything in product management is a series of trade offs. When is that resource available to build that functionality? Regardless of when that functionality is built, when do we release it? What does the market want? What does the company want? What do we do to incorporate this last minute requirement? How do we retool based on the usability tests? Everything is a balancing act for the product manager. You can’t do everything at once. And you can’t do everything before launch. It’s a constant game of ready, fire, aim. What is attainable versus what is necessary.
  • Resource management. Once locked, loaded, and focused on target, how do we manage the resources at our disposal? Are we going to wedge in some additional functionality while we have engineering cycles? Are we going to bring in outside help to get us through this rough patch? Can we rely on a single engineer to bring everything to fruition? What if that person falls ill during QA? How much do I have to spend to get this done? Can I buy more time? Can I buy more resources? Do we have to build? Can we partner? Can we acquire?
  • Translation. The product manager is a Rosetta stone of sorts. Sitting somewhere between the business aspects of having a product and the labor required to bring that product to fruition. In high-tech, as an example, engineers don’t generally want to hear about the business reasons behind feature #479. They want to know the spec and they want to know what technology is at their disposal to create the feature to spec. Conversely, the CEO generally couldn’t really care less if you’ve created an AJAX implementation or used C#. S/he wants to know if the customer will be jumping for joy or throwing up all over it.

So taking those high-level points, shouldn’t we all be product managers for everything we’re doing? Shouldn’t we be product managing our startups? Product managing our investors? Product managing our employees? Product managing our product?

I mean, couldn’t your startup use some product management? A timeline? A life cycle? An attainable list of features and functions to be launched at specific intervals? What does version 3.5 of your startup include? Is it Windows, Mac OS, and Linux compatible? What mobile platforms do you support? Where are your feature/function gaps that could move your startup forward or doom it to inadequacy? What features do you want versus what functions does the business want? What happens when a competitor enters the market?

How’s your startup’s usability?

Think about it. Your startup will be better for it.

Facets of Product Management

In this article, I myself will try and understand the role of Product Manager and of Product Marketing Manager:

It Is What You Define It Is!

CTO : This is why he would like to have a role of Product Manager : He wanted someone to document all the features in their product (which had already been created) in one Word document so that they can understand what features were in their product. He also said he didn’t want the PM team to “muck around with defining features or product strategy” because between him and the VP of Engineering, they had it covered.

VP – Engineering : This is why he would like to have a role of Product Manager :- “What is the biggest reason you want to build a product management team?”. He told me that he wanted someone to create UML diagrams of the current product as well as for all the new features that he planned to come up with so that developers could implement them.

What Do Product Managers Do?
While the role of a PM varies widely depending on the company, there are several key responsibilities that product managers usually undertake at a vast majority of successful high-tech companies – based on my research and as well as conversations with friends in the industry. Here is how you can group them:

i.        Market Research:

This refers to the activities of studying a market to understand the customer needs, competitive landscape, and market forces – with the ultimate goal of uncovering opportunities for creating product enhancements as well as new products.

This is done via conversations with customers or potential customers, talking to customer-facing teams such as sales and support, studying reports and articles on the marketplace, test driving competitive products, keeping tabs on customer behavior, and other such activities.

This culminates with the PM preparing a business case, product strategy and/or business requirements document (BRD) detailing how to capitalize on the uncovered opportunities.

ii.        Product Definition and Design:

a) Product Definition refers to the activities of specifying what a product needs to do. This is usually done via what is referred to as Market Requirements Document (MRD) or Product Requirements Document (PRD). This document may include information such as product vision, target market, competitive summary, detailed description of product features, prioritization of features, use cases, system requirements, performance requirements, sales and support requirements, etc.

b) Product Design refers to the activities of specifying the look and feel of the product including the user interface (UI) and the user interaction with the product – covering the whole spectrum of user experience. In larger companies the PM works with UI designers or interaction designers to create this, while in startups the PM may do all of these.

I consider this to be the most valuable among a PM’s activities – so much so that I actually think product manager jobs which don’t include this responsibility are really not product manager jobs at all!

iii.        Project Management:

This refers to the activities of leading cross-functional teams including engineering, QA, UI design, marketing, sales and support to develop and launch the product on-time and on-budget. This may include securing resources, creating project timelines, tracking progress against timeline, identifying critical paths, getting additional resources when needed, and communicating status to the executive team.

In larger companies, Project Managers actually perform most of these activities with the support of PM’s. In very small startups, the PM may be asked to do these by herself. In some companies, the Engineering Lead may do most of these activities as well.

iv.        Evangelizing the Product:

This includes the activities of communicating the product benefits, features and target markets, and in general championing the product to internal teams such as sales, marketing, support and executives. This also includes evangelizing the product to external audience such as press, analysts and customers.

In larger companies, the PM is supported by the Product Marketing, Marketing Communications (MarCom) and/or Press Relations (PR) teams in evangelizing to external audience.

I consider this to be the second most valuable among a PM’s activities – especially evangelizing to the sales & marketing teams, and the executives to create excitement around the product.

v.        Product Marketing:

 

This refers to the activities of outbound messaging – telling the world about the product. This includes creating collateral such as datasheets, brochures, website, flash presentations, press packages, trade shows and more.

In larger companies, the product marketing activities are almost always separated from the PM. They’re instead performed by the Product Marketing Manager. The biggest shortcoming of this arrangement is the resultant inefficiencies in communication and the weakening of outbound messaging.

In some companies the terms ‘Product Management‘ and ‘Product Marketing’ are used synonymously and one person is responsible for all activities. In companies where there are separate ‘Product Management’ and ‘Product Marketing’ groups, the latter group performs all the activities mentioned in this category.

vi.        Product Life Cycle Management:

This refers to the activities of managing a product as it goes through its life cycle from ideation to launch to growth to maturity, and eventually to decline.

This includes tasks such as product positioning, pricing and promotion, product portfolio management, competitive strategy, making build/buy/partner decisions, and identifying and developing partnerships. The PM works with Product Marketing, Business Development and MarCom teams on many of these activities.

There you have it – my attempt at demystifying the role of product management.