Saturday, April 21, 2012

Product Management: be the #1 user of your product

Since I started playing product manager role, there are a few things that I believe in that will help me become a better product manager.  One of them is to be the #1 user of my product.

Let me explain what I mean.  When I say the number one user, I quite literally mean the number one user.  You must become a user that you are going after.  This means not only you are using the product, but you have to be the user that you are targeting.

Remember Sy Sperling;
“I'm not only the Hair Club President,
but I'm also a client.”
It may be easy if you are building a consumer-facing product for masses.  It may not be so easy if you are working on a product that solves specific industry problem where you have little expertise in.  It may be impossible if you are building something entirely new or for a few unknown users (government contract or big enterprise project still works this way).  Regardless of what your situation is, do everything in your power to become the user.  Not just any user, but the number one user.

I liked Roger Mcnamee's comment that he made on the talk at The Paley Center for Media.  He's using his band's website to test out his theory of small business owner building his own multimedia HTML5 website.  His VC firm, Elevation Partners, is bullish about HTML5 as the next phase of internet revolution that will fundamentally change the way we think of internet as static media.  He believes that HTML5 will provide level playing field for all websites to become a web channel where visitors can spend many hours, starting from browsing content, interacting with other fans and purchasing items without leaving the site.  In order to test his idea, he used his band's website to be the first customer of HTML5 capabilities.

I run social media product line for Actiance.  I realized that at the core of social media is allowing everyone a voice to speak to masses.  In order to build a product for businesses that want to use social media to increase their marketing effectiveness, I had to understand marketing teams better.  So I literally decided to become one.  I started my own blog site and started blogging.  By launching my own blog, I could understand more about what business owners think about and what challenges marketing teams are faced with tools in the market today.  And by doing that, it helped me understand what marketing folks cared about.  It made me see what features will help me immediately versus nice-to-haves.

I strongly recommend that you try be the number one user of your product.  If you are not using your product, there must be a reason.  Fix them so that you can use your own product to get your customer's job done.

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