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I'm Josh, I work at Juvo, and what I’m going to talk about is moving from features, which I'm sure you guys hear about all the time when you talk to product managers, to things people actually care about. Because guess what? Your product managers aren’t the people buying your product.

This is one of the scariest sentences you'll ever read.

A product manager is so excited and cannot wait to tell you about this thing they've come up with because obviously, it's going to change the company, it's going to change the relationship you have with your customers, and of course, going to be amazing.

But in reality, it's not always going to go the same way. So there are three ways in which it might go, and I've used some examples to illustrate how it might go.

1) Lloyd Christmas

Product manager Lloyd Christmas totally nailed it. He knew exactly what his audience wanted, his audience was super happy, and they were moving forward. But that's not always how it's going to go.

2) Billy Madison

So obviously, this one's somewhat disastrous. Let's just have a look at the final and most common example.

3) Underpants gnomes

How likely are each of these to happen?

Alright, so I've completely made up these metrics but since product marketing people love metrics, and in the absence of having them, I decided to just make them up because come on, that's what we all do anyway.

So scenario one is Lloyd Christmas - every now and then a product manager is going to nail it. They're going to know exactly what your customer wanted. They're going to know how you bring this to market, they're going to have a tonne of good ideas. Awesome.

Occasionally there's going to be a Billy Madison, and they're not the best.

But most of the time you're going to get an underpants gnomes situation, and we'll talk about that a little bit more. Your product managers are underpants gnomes. But it’s not all bad, as there are some things the underpants gnomes got right:

  • They knew what it was they were doing.
  • They knew the product - the product was stealing underpants.
  • They knew what they wanted to achieve by stealing those underpants - they wanted the profit.

They were missing a pretty big part though - how do we go from the stolen underpants to the profit? And I've got really good news, this is why we all have jobs and we will continue to have jobs because, once again, product managers are underpants gnomes.

So, we all have this superpower where we can explain to normal people how things work and why they should care. So let's do it.

Time to put on your product marketing cape!

This is an example you've probably seen a bunch of times, but I like it because it's just so simple.

Nobody cares about what the actual storage of an iPod was. You cared what it got you. It meant you could have 1000 U2 songs Apple made you have on your iPod. The answer is, and what we're getting to is why?

  • Why do people care?
  • What is it they want to get out of it?

Nobody's buying an iPod, what they're buying is the ability to listen to whatever song they want to at any time they want, anywhere they are.

So first, we've got to think about the customer here because really, we care about them more than anybody else.

What is it our customer's trying to get done?

I think one of the best frameworks to use here is the jobs to get done framework, I really like that and I think it's super useful. Of course, there are tonnes of other ways to think about this, but ultimately, what customers want is life to be a little bit easier. Their experience to be a little bit better makes them happier. They want it to go faster, do more, be better, all those things, or they just want to make money. And sometimes they want to do all of these things and that's okay too.

So, what do you have to do with your product managers to help them understand which one of these, if not all of them, their new product idea is going to accomplish? You just have to ask them why a lot.

People talk about the five whys and really, you just have to annoy the crap out of your product managers by asking them, why?


I think it's really important not to help feed them the answers on these because it’s their idea, they should be able to get to a point where they can explain what it's going to do for somebody and how it's going to be beneficial for them.

Every product manager is going to come in and say they've got this amazing idea and again, you have to say why? You have to then dig deeper into the why on each one of those things, until you get to a place where it genuinely makes sense, not just to you but to your customers.

What do your customers care about most?

Really, you've got to ask yourself, what do your customers care about most and hopefully everybody reading this is already doing it and doing an amazing job at it. But what we have to do is help our product managers do this themselves.

Because one of the things we can do to help them is helping them think in this way because it's going to help them think about roadmap in a much more intelligent way. It's going to help them come to you with far less Billy Madison's and many more Lloyd Christmas’, and maybe even less underpants gnomes, but that's their nature.

What do you wish your customer would say about your new product?

One of the things I like to think about is - what are the things you wish your customer was going to say about this new product? Because ultimately, that's going to tell you what the areas we covered before are and is going to be an improvement for them.

A brief exercise

I’d like everyone to actually do this. Take a minute and think about a feature, a new product, anything you've been working on.

  • Who's it for?
  • What's it going to do for them?
  • What do you wish they would say about it?  

I've made up some examples above. It's important to remember when we nail these things, it's not about saying a lot. It's actually about saying very little because if you've nailed it, it's very obvious to the customer why it's made their lives better, how it's made it easier, what it's doing for them.

You've got to go from not just, "Hey, we got a Slack integration. That's super cool, right?". Because I'm sure that's what your product manager's saying. Instead, you need to get to a place where you can explain what it does for your customer and even different archetypes within your customer base.

Sticking with the Slack integration, it may be cool for some people, it may be less cool for others, it may do certain things for some people, certain things for other people. So, I think the biggest thing you have to do here is either to talk to your customers, put yourself in their shoes, or hopefully do a bit of both of those things.

Ultimately, again, it's the things you wish they would say.

What are the benefits to your company?

The other thing we need to think about is, what is this doing for our company? If we make life easier for our customers, what does it mean for us?

This isn’t just about should we build it. It's should we build it in terms of what we want for ourselves and so you have to also be able to understand the value to your company because this is going to help you in terms of prioritization of roadmap.

It's also going to help you explain these things to some of the decision-makers within your own business. Certainly, there's always going to be obstacles in bringing new products to market, new features to market, that have to go through internal roadblocks. When doing this I always like to talk about a path to revenue.

It may be there are several steps in the path to revenue, but if there isn't ultimately revenue or something benefiting the bottom line of your company, then you're in a bit of trouble; you might find yourself being a bit of an underpants gnome.

The main three things we're trying to do are:

  1. Attract new customers,
  2. Keep those customers, or
  3. Get the existing customers to spend more money, be more engaged, etc.

We're trying to generate more interest and engagement with our products and services.

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