April 18: Why Being relevant (starting with the story) isn't enough

Summary of Global Product Management Talk with Josh Duncan.


  1. Global Product Management Talk is a weekly virtual twitter chat Mondays 4-5 PM PST Co-hosts @cindyfsolomon w/Adrienne Tan @brainmates w/Product Management evangelist discussing topic & Q&A with transcript & blogging follow-up.  This is a summary of the discussion.  The full transcript is here.
  2. Our speaker, Josh Duncan, has been working in the technology and marketing field for the last twelve years. He is currently leading the product marketing team at Zenoss, an Enterprise Software startup. Prior to working at Zenoss, Josh was a Global Product Management lead at Dell responsible for customer research and planning the next generation of netbooks, slates and tablets. From working at startups to Fortune 500 companies like Dell, Bank of America and Accenture, Josh has developed a diverse background and knowledge when it comes to growing and operating a business. Josh has also been a frequent speaker at ProductCamp Austin and has been honored with the "Best Presenter" Award at ProductCamp twice. 
  3. Q1. From a product perspective, let's start with a question on what does it mean to be relevant?
  4. SteveKoss Q1 product/service relevance = providing puzzle pieces (results/value) to the giant jigsaw vision puzzle
    of outcomes

    joshua_d Q1 This is can be a very easy question or can be very difficult. 

    stacymonarko Q1: It is all abt meeting the customers “unmet need”.

    lmckeogh A1: positing that relevance in terms of #prodmgmt is providing value & leadership in a particular domain
  5. joshua_d Q1 - Can you answer the important questions of your product goals and where they fit in with the business?
  6. stacymonarko Q1 The challenge in relevance is can u deliver a prod that effectively meets cust need & do it well enough for some1 to invest

    Macmyday A1 Relevant means to lead the product development & engage with customers throughout dev. 

    brainmates A1: Being relevant is offering insights about the customer and market

    joshua_d @stacymonarko and to meet the your business goals

    joshua_d Q1 - If the purpose behind your efforts isn't clear, delivering a relevant product will be hard 

    stacymonarko Q1: Time to mrkt is key. If u design 4 2day & it takes 12 mnths 2 produce another prod could leap frog urs

    berkshire_ideas A1: Being relevant starts with asking a lot of questions. 

    cindyfsolomon A1. Being relevant to your stakeholders by communicating value (market data to dev) 

    clivelam A1: The ability to balance out tactical and strategic

    joshua_d A1: a key point, customers’ needs do not always come first

    lmckeogh @joshua_d : agree, customer's needs don't come first, but are nonetheless v. important in grand scheme

    Macmyday @joshua_d Absolutely agree! Product needs to be understood by target market. Sounds easier than it
    often is. See Google Wave
  7. lmckeogh @joshua_d : U need to identify who your most important customer is in the value chain otherwise U may find yourself irrelevant -

    stacymonarko Cant get away from cust needs

    Macmyday @berkshire_ideas And no PM should stop asking questions throughout development. 

    joshua_d @berkshire_ideas I wouldn't say that you don't meet your customers needs, sometimes business strategy may be a higher priority 

    joshua_d RT @Jim_Holland: @joshua_d - Relevance to me means currency of knowledge in the market/customers and intelligently communicating that

    lmckeogh @joshua_d @berkshire_ideas : Case in point, Flip. haha (topic for another day) 

    joshua_d A1 - As Seth Godin says, there is no map – you need to forge your own path. 

    stacymonarko @joshua_d @berkshire_ideas strategy should always include customer unless you're changing target mrket

    berkshire_ideas @joshua_d business strategy should be a function of meeting your customers needs.
  8. Q2. How can you plan to be relevant from the start?
  9. stacymonarko Q2: The key to relevance is time to market.

    ProdMgmtTalk A2: Include your strategy for remaining relevant in your MRD (marketing requirements document)

    lmckeogh A2: open your eyes - figuratively. See what is going on not only in your mkt, but in others and how it may translate

    berkshire_ideas A2: RT @berkshire_ideas: A1: Being relevant starts with asking a lot of questions.

    stacymonarko Q2: U need to understand the landscape as u need to do something better than any competing idea or solution.

    brainmates A2 As a PM need a combination of stakeholder management, mkt knowledge & business strategy -

    joshua_d A2 - Having your purpose and product goals is where to start

    joshua_d A2 - I really like the working backward from the customer

    stacymonarko Q2: Staying close 2 cust is key & knwing what their future plans are. In software great ? 2 ask is “What keeps u up @ night?” 

    berkshire_ideas A2: incorporate what your customer tells you into your plans.

    bill_bliss A2: Need to hit a double or a triple out of the gate if poss, which means understanding key unmet/underserved need
  10. joshua_d A2: Plan from the start - see Amazon’s writing the press release first example - b.qr.ae/i78BOh

    Amazon Product Development Process: Start with Customer Work Backwards bit.ly/iNj12G
  11. joshua_d A2 - You need the tight alignment between the product planning team and the product marketing team to develop the story

    lmckeogh A2: R U satisfying the right 'customer' by working back? Identifying most important customer key to staying relevant

    joshua_d A2 - While I do believe that storytelling needs to be at the heart of your product planning - bit.ly/gDjjSd
  12. stacymonarko @lmckeogh Good if you can find perfect cust / cust profile and work back from them 

    clivelam A2: depends on if you're trying to be relevant today or relevant for the future 

    joshua_d A2: It isn’t just about one product story, it is the compilation of stories that makes your company’s narrative 

    ErikaLAndersen Most important strategically? by revenue? RT@lmckeogh: A2: Identifying most important customer key to staying relevant 

    brainmates You would want to be both!

    berkshire_ideas Take a look at what is outside your sphere. Open your eyes to what is happening. Not always easy

    @ErikaLAndersen : Depends on what problem you are solving therefore that customer may vary 

    Macmyday A2 Customers unfortunately don't always tell you what they need. They have problem that PM needs to solve. That's the hard bit 

    Ycnt_ibdonlyjen Q2 relevance.. ask questions, listen, read, research n share knowledge 

    joshua_d A2- If your product stories don’t add up or are disjointed, your company’s narrative will fall flatwhn concentration level is hi
  13. joshua_d A2 - Great product + Bad story = Fail. All need to be aligned - bit.ly/gcsql7 (perception of value miss)
  14. Q3. How do you bring customer input into this process?
  15. joshua_d A3 - as we stated, focusing on the customer is key but needs to be done in the right way

    stacymonarko Q3: Your solution should solve an unmet need so need 2 involve cust from beginning to creation to prod dev to end solution 

    cindyfsolomon A3: Case studies - visiting customers, watching/ asking/ following how they use the product

    joshua_d A3 - For planning, you need to examine what drives the real underlying consumer behavior and needs (not just feature requests

    stacymonarko Q3: Gathering as much research as possible from a variety of parties is key as well as continually testing prod ideas

    brainmates A3: Customer input comes in various ways: Feedback, observation, interviews, trends

    Macmyday @stacymonarko Agree! We observe for our biz the workflow of diff cust segments. 

    bill_bliss A3 - For brand new products, I like to just watch ppl doing their jobs, then ask open-ended Q's.
  16. joshua_d A3 - Seeking Voice of Customer can take different approaches. See @Brioneja ‘s VoC presentation -
  17. lmckeogh A3: right way, start w/ 2ndary research, develop a hypothesis & test w/ primary research (aka cust visit) to refine. Iterate 

    SteveKoss Q3 ask questions, go Socrates ask the whys via a workshop, or BA or storyboard session to activate the rhythm

    stacymonarko Q3: Prototyping is another gr8t way to keep customers involved.

    joshua_d A3 - Make sure you adjust target customers; the customers that got you to point A might not be the same to get you to point B.
  18. berkshire_ideas A3: has the focus group been replaced by SoMarketing?

    stacymonarko @berkshire_ideas Not completely. We still use focus groups from time to time

    joshua_d @stacymonarko @berkshire_ideas focus groups do have their place
  19. cindyfsolomon A3: What about using tools that let you watch how customers use (web) product? i.e. trymyui.com

    bill_bliss @ProdMgmtTalk I'd love to hear abt ppl who have used trymyui, it sounds like genius
  20. bill_bliss A3 - Feature requests shouldn't be > ~30-40% of next version's features. Knowing WHY they want 'em, now that's

    clivelam A3: by blending your story and theirs together. we can never be independent of our customers and them us.

    baltomel A3 Multiple ways: surveys, convos w/sales, direct convos w/customers. @brainmates Q3 - How do you bring customer input

    Macmyday Prototyping in several iterations. Love that!@stacymonarko Q3: Prototyping is another gr8t way to
    keep customers involved.
  21. joshua_d A3: be careful to focus on needs not requests.

    joshua_d A3: Recent example, Walmart Declutters Aisles Per Customers' Request, Then Loses $1.85 Billion In Sales

    "Walmart came up with the answer first, then asked customers to agree to it," writes the Good Experience blog

    cindyfsolomon: A3: Exactly "how" did they declutter? That makes a difference

    Macmyday @joshua_d Interesting point. Is this the MySpace phenomenon, where clutter was good? Keeps people engaged?
  22. Q4. Why do you need to care about word of mouth - isn't that marketing's job?
  23. stacymonarko Q4: Your company’s image/brand is everyone’s job. The customer needs a consistent message from every1

    joshua_d A4 - World of mouth has always been huge, now with social is instant and everywhere

    joshua_d A4 - 92% of consumers cite WOM as their best source for new product ideas

    brainmates A3: Word of mouth is everyone's job including #prodmgmt

    berkshire_ideas Q4: Marketing is your eyes and ears.

    stacymonarko Q4: As a PM you are the expert on the product & the unmet need so u need 2 b the voice & vision of what that is.

    cindyfsolomon A4: WOM by customers & non-customers,  competitors & channel

    Macmyday A4 Word of mouth tells you what and how ppl promote or demote your product. Ppl are far more likely to bad mouth than praise.

    joshua_d @stacymonarko exactly - you need to help develop the product voice and plan for ways to help share the story

    stacymonarko Q4: As prod owner our job is to be evangelist both internal & external – if u don’t believe in yur ideas/solutions no 1 will

    joshua_d A4 - Now more than ever, If you have a bad product, traditional advertising won’t help

    joshua_d A4 - a great product + great story can have fantastic results

    berkshire_ideas A4: when i hear a q like this I think of 'shinbone connected to the kneebone'
  24. joshua_d A4: Case and point, Cisco Viral Video Campaign Drums Up $80M in Sales Opportunities - bit.ly/f4uA1N
  25. paulalexgray A4. The best 'marketing' is a product that does exactly what customer wants, how they want it with good customer support

    clivelam A4: every customer has their own story and these are more powerful than what marketing can ever come up with

    joshua_d A4 - What are you doing to make the love your product and build your narrative for the long haul?