Market research: How involved should the PMM be?

Get in the driver’s seat

The role of the Product Marketing Manager (PMM) is to be a driver of market research. We know the products, the features, messaging, and the positioning better than anyone in the company. The experienced PMM has engineering partners on his team who have communicated the design, components, uniqueness, issues/potential weaknesses, direction and competitive positioning to him from an engineering perspective. The experienced PMM also works closely with sales and talks with customers to get some sense of how customers view current products and competitive offerings, as well as how they see their needs changing over time. From these data, the PMM either works with the market research team to design the project(s) or does it himself.                           Continue reading

Customer Dis-service: Marketing’s Achilles Heel

The happiest place on earth

After being thrown off one of my colts and breaking my collar bone, sitting at my computer with one of those old monitors is a challenge. As a result, I was determined to buy a new flat-panel. Coffee is a staple around this household and running out is pretty close to admitting that the pet rock was one of the most important inventions known to man. By the way, the best use for a good pet rock was for throwing—usually, the shape was awesome. So…I’m on my way to by my life’s blood when I see Office Depot. Since I am determined to buy a monitor, I pull into the parking lot and go in. Now, for someone like me, a store like Office Depot or Lowe’s is an amazing experience. The closer I get to the door, the bigger my smile. I have more materials for projects for which I conceived to keep me busy for about a year…full-time!                     Continue reading

Process Improvement: Intro to Agile

The high-tech industry has followed a proven method of product management that works quite nicely in a number of industries for everything from hydrophilic guide-wires to notebook computers to refrigerators—plan, develop, launch, EOL. When the product leaves the planning stage, it is pretty well defined. It gets on the POR and roadmaps are created. MRDs, PRDs are written: It is built and launched. It’s a pretty simple paradigm. But what if the product has characteristics that require it to change during the development process? What if there is a need for continual customer feedback as the product moves forward through the development cycle? The traditional “HW model” doesn’t work. This is where Agile has earned its stripes. Continue reading

Process Improvement: Intro to Six Sigma

A business’ sales can flatten out due to competitive pressures, market saturation, economic conditions, or even a failure to evolve. The reason for which doesn’t matter for the purposes of this discussion. Sales and Marketing efforts don’t seem to be effective. What is the next logical step for a company? Cut costs. There are a variety of ways to “save” money. At Digital Equipment Corporation, they reduced their head-count to reduce costs. The mantra at The Home Depot with Bernie and Arthur was “Sales Cures All.” At some point, even more sales can’t over-come operational irresponsibility. At The Home Depot, Bob Nardelli leveraged his experience with process improvement at GE in an attempt to make The Home Depot a more operationally responsible company. It was through his effort that Six Sigma principles were put in place. Were they executed effectively? I’m sure everyone who reads this has been to a Home Depot store in the last couple of years. How was their Customer Service? Did it more closely resemble a Wal-Mart with lumber and no ice cream?! The challenge is to put the principles into practice without losing sight of why you are doing them and what it does to/for your “customers.”

Continue reading