Can I humbly give Product Managers a quick piece of advice?
Stop lying about what your product can do for me if you know it doesn’t do it.
Just tell me the truth.
Instead of telling me it can do something it can’t, or something it can do, but does badly, instead pick something that I really care about and do this brilliantly. If you don’t know what that thing is, talk to me. Watch my life, understand me, heck – ask me. Professor Keith Goffin and Dr Chris Van Der Hoven from Cranfield University offer some techniques in their article that discusses why products fail.
When you think you have found it, ask me, if you have solved a problem I have, or met an undiscovered need that I didn’t know about, I will get pretty excited about it. However raw, if the idea and concept is good, then you will quickly know because I will want it NOW!!!
I will want to buy it.
I will want to know when it is available and what it costs.
A quick test for this … write down in 10 words what it is.
Real words, not marketing’ese. Simple words.
Core functions first, state the blindingly obvious.
Think about the most basic way that you can sell the idea and the product.
If you cannot do this, then go back and refine it, keep looking, keep searching. Don’t pick that last thing that was moderately interesting and build that, look for the problem I have, or the thing I want to achieve.
It you think you have found something, make it as real as you can. Build a prototype, a mockup so I can start to imagine this in the real world, in my life. This doesn’t have to be a polished machined prototype, a cardboard mockup today is better than a polished prototype in 6 months. Whatever you have, communicate the story of what it does. Storyboards, wireframes, mockups, prototypes – whatever you need to show the idea as live as possible, as real as you can, do that.
Then iterate and make it better. And better. And better.
Set a timeframe, a quality bar, and a budget, then iterate until you pass this. You will have to deal with these trade offs, but that is what a Product Managers life is about. It is all about compromise. Product success comes from making the right judgement about the balance.
If you do this well, when you come to launch, you can tell me the truth.
You don’t need to lie.
You can tell me with confidence what your product does, and why I should care.
If you have done your job well, I will want to buy the product or service.
And I will.
It is that simple.
Of course, if you lie to me, I will find out.
I will tell others that you lie.
I won’t buy from you again.
And neither will others.
You can try and sell the Emperors New Clothes, but you will be found out, and after that no one will trust you again.
… and no one will buy anything from you, because they cannot trust you.
So the next time you go into that product planning meeting, that product marketing review, tell the truth.
You can lie, but you will be found out.