Author Archives: syewell

Podcast Review: Reach Your Escape Velocity

Geoffrey Moore is a great thinker and communicator. In this podcast he describes a couple of frameworks from his new book “Escape Velocity” (book review in the works). One of these frameworks is designed for product and solution managers, a group he calls offer managers. The framework is to look at a product and understand

  1. Differentiate – What features of the product are 10x better than the competition
  2. Neutralize – What features of the product need to meet market parity
  3. Optimize – What stuff should the product team stop focusing on so they can refocus on driving 1) or 2)

This framework is so powerful because it allows a product manager, or an entrepreneur to focus on effort than can make a meaningful difference, and to recognize effort that would be wasted. It doesn’t make sense to apply resources to features that cannot become 10x better than the competition, so just make sure they are good enough. Refocus the energy you would have spent driving this feature to neutralizing other threat dimensions or driving your key differentiators further. Thanks Geoff!

How disruptive is your idea?

The other day I was trying to convince my wife that it would be a good idea for me to go out on the town with my cousins while she took care of our 4 month old.

Sometimes you can get an idea across in a couple of minutes, maybe only in a sentence. Other times it seems like you just can’t get the point across.

Next time you have a new idea to share, try Continue reading

Free != Costless

I had coffee with my friend and mentor Neil Baron (blog) this morning. We were talking about methods organizations can use to drive adoption of new innovative products. At the heart of the conversation were tactics to identify the value that early adopters see in products, and how to translate these into benefits that the early majority will recognize and with which they will identify.

For some services and products, it makes sense to lower the price to $0, or “make it free”. If it’s free, and has value, why wouldn’t everyone take advantage of the offer? The thing is that even if the target customer is aware of the solution offered for free, they might not adopt. This is because there are still costs to adopting a solution. The customer still has to do something. Continue reading

True, Valuable, and Relevant

I was making spaghetti last week and thinking about customer research. I know, it’s not normal. Anyway, what I was thinking was how quantitative analysis can be true, valuable, and irrelevant all at the same time. And qualitative research can also be true, valuable, and irrelevant all at the same time.

Looking at my pasta I tabulated stats about the pasta. Continue reading

Product Stuck? Listen to your customers…

Last spring my company needed to make some important business decisions. We had been in business for a year, and things weren’t taking off as we had hoped. Our first thought was that we had the wrong product. We had the engineering know-how and could probably get the funding to enhance the product’s performance, but considering the opportunity and financial costs, we needed to be sure it was the right thing to do. Who could tell us what to do?

Qual Research

Customers are a wealth of information. Customers hold all the answers businesses need to grow, whether they know it or not. Continue reading

Book Review: The New Rules of Marketing and PR

Title: The New Rules of Marketing and PR
Author: David Meerman Scott
Topics: Social Media, Blogs, Tweets, FB Posts…
You should read if: You don’t think social media matters to you, or you want it to matter more
Description: In the New Rules of Marketing and PR, Mr. Scott does a great job establishing the importance of social media and new communications tools, and contrasting both the ease of use and efficacy with that of “traditional media”. As a blogging novice, naive tweeter, and limited Facebooker, this book inspires me to take advantage of social media. I recognize I have been ignoring it, at beast giving it lip service, because I don’t understand it. This book provides the tools to understand and take advantage of (in the good way) the “new rules”.

Quantitative Research: Make sure it is worth the investment

People really like quantitative research. You sound really smart when you can say “33% of iPod owners use their iPods less than once a month”, or “17% of white males between 25 and 45 who earn more than 60k a year own a game console”. Numbers are hard to argue with, and specificity implies knowledge.

Quantitative Research

Quantitative research can be a lot of hard work. There are the basic things you need to do for any quantitative research like:
Continue reading

Book Review: The Tipping Point

Title: The Tipping Point
Author: Malcom Gladwell
Topics: Awareness paths, Product adoption
You should read if: you are planning to drive adoption of a new product or service.
Description: In the Tipping Point, Mr. Gladwell describes three kinds of people, Mavens, Connectors, and Salesmen, and their roles in spreading ideas. There are similarities to the concepts of Inside the Tornado, though in Tipping Point they are grounded in pop culture examples as opposed to high tech products. A useful read for the product manager who is thinking about viral marketing campaigns as a component of a product launch awareness effort.

Book Review: The Innovator’s Dilemma

Title: The Innovator’s Dilemma
Author: Clayton M. Christensen
Topics: Strategy
You should read if: you are involved in product line planning, corporate strategy, or looking to commercialize a new technology.
Description: I heard Mr. Christensen speak at an innovation seminar in 2004, and was struck by his poise and obvious intelligence. This book defines and describes the impact of a disruptive technology. The book is a fun read well supported with anecdotes and data visualizations. From a product management perspective, the contents are both exciting and frightening, and if you can internalize the concepts, the book is a great resource for product planning. The ideas apply to both large companies and startups though these constituents are usually on opposite sides of the disruptive technologies. Mr. Christensen follows up this book with two others, The Innovator’s Solution and Seeing What’s Next, both good reads.