Here I go again blogging on something in the area of Product Marketing … I should leave that up to April Dunford the Product Marketing expert; but I can’t help myself.
Can you create a two-word phrase that describes your value proposition? Something like ‘Change Ready’ or ‘Threat Resistant’. You should be able to attach them to the end of the phrase ‘Are you …?’ or ‘Is your whatever …’. You then can use phrases that contain these two words when you talk to a prospect or add it to the front page of your web site. Or maybe even trademark it.
The first word needs to describe the problem that you solve or the desired outcome and the second word needs to describe your solution to the problem. The problem, of course, has to be expressed from your target market’s perspective … i.e. it can not be what you do (no one cares about that).
My company – Ateala Management – helps tech companies with their product management issues. Outside of the realm of product management nobody gets this. The usual response is “huh?”. My target companies are those that are just beyond the start-up phase looking to scale their business to the next level. The problem they have is staying focused on meeting their business objectives with all the distractions being thrown at them. What I do is implement systems and processes and educate their staff to focus on making decisions that help in meeting their business objectives. I now ask if they have an objective-focused business. So my value proposition can be condensed to “objective focused”. Is your business objective focused?
Try it with your product. Can you share your two-word value proposition?
Why do tech companies insist on barfing out their message. It’s like they have to spew out absolutely every competitive threat, differentiator, techo-wizardry, benefit, target customer in one single breath. No wonder nobody understands what they do and what value they provide. Just stop it!
I’ve run into so many tech companies that have great intentions, but eventually end up with something that’s barfed out. They start with a short, crisp, well-articulated message and then they start adding in the prepositions (by, with, including, etc.). Each crisp message, when delivered, should lead the listener to the next sentence. They should want to hear the next sentence. Each sentence should build on the next – eventually revealing the story. If fact the person you’re speaking to will guide what your next sentence needs to be; e.g. ” what do you mean by such-and-such”. I’ve been following the writings of Jill Konrath; especially her views on value propositions. Keep your messages short and crisp and your audience will understand what you’re about … remember that your audience needs to understand your message, if they don’t then you’ve wasted your breath.
During ProductCamp Toronto in October I was interviewed by Donna Popacosta on Business-Driven Product Management. She turned this into a podcast which is now available on the ProductCamp Toronto website. Thanks to Donna for putting all this together.
At this month’s OCRI Zone5ive meeting I delivered a presentation entitled Product Marketing for an Ever-changing World. [The Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation (OCRI) is Ottawa's leading member-based economic development corporation for fostering the advancement of the region's globally competitive knowledge-based institutions and industries.] The goal of this presentation was to educate the Zone5ive membership on how they can become more effective as the development team shifts to Agile development. This transition does not just impact the development team, it also impacts Product Marketing, Product Management and Marketing.
The net result is that product marketing (and product management) teams will have the ability to engage customers early and often throughout the project which will increase the chances of a successful product (or release) launch. In other words, by engaging customers during the project, they will feel like they helped shape the release (or capability or feature) and so will be in a better position to talk to the press and industry analysts. They will also help you with your messaging, i.e. they will provide with real value statements.