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Product Managers: Get Used To Good Enough

I’ve been a Product Manager (by role or by title) off and on for the last 20 years.

In all my roles, I’ve always thought deeply about how much data is ‘good enough’. Like most things in life – choosing a plan for your smartphone, selecting an item off the menu at a restaurant, taking the quickest route home from work – you are never guaranteed success.

As a product manager, waiting for everything (customer insight, competitive data, pricing modeling, market analysis) to line up perfectly is a futile exercise. Get used to it, Product Managers: you are dealing with a world of ‘good enough.’

Don’t get me wrong. I am not prescribing that you can’t aim for perfect. Always strive to collect as much data/insight as you can within the boundaries of your project or product. Realize, however, that you’ll never get to perfect.

You may want to validate use cases for a new product with 10 customers, but only 5 are available. You may want to analyze competitors and read research reports until you understand the complete picture, but your development team is eager and ready to start building a prototype. You may desire to conduct a few more usability sessions, but that key trade show, where you plan on releasing ‘The Best Product Ever’, is looming just down the road.

Product Managers: get used to being informed and enlightened about your customers, segments, markets, opportunities, but don’t get anxious if you don’t get every ‘t crossed and i dotted’.

Go with what you have; it’s good enough.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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Technology Companies: Don’t Neglect the Senior Market

It’s true that Amazon, Apple, and Google have introduced products over the past 5 years that are simple, intuitive, elegant, beautiful, or even fun. Some of these products are not only brilliantly designed, but they are also easy to use.

When I think about my parents, however, struggling with new (or relatively new) technologies, I sense a wide disconnect.

On their smartphones, they struggle to find addresses, emails, and a way to look up something on the Internet. Everything’s too small, too confusing, too vague. I try to empathize, but some things just are second nature for me having worked with technology over the last two decades.

Seniors crave the closeness and connection that comes through technology.

Seniors crave the closeness and connection that comes through technology.

On the computer, they lose files, get infected with viruses by clicking on seemingly innocent and helpful banner ads, and wrestle with file types, extensions, and plug-ins.

Despite my consistent teachings (thanks GoToMyPC), my parents still swim against the tide, continually learning and relearning some computer, smartphone, technology basics.

I peer into the future a bit as I see the golden generation struggle. Years from now, my children will guide me through some crazy technology advancement that I just don’t get. I’ll connect with someone much younger than I for wise counsel to remove my frustration.

There’s an opportunity here for some enterprising company. The senior market will continue to use technology to connect with children and grandchildren, manage finances, pursue hobbies, learn new skills and techniques.

Most of the products you and I use though are built and catered to the coveted 18-34 market. This demographic craves things small, portable, sleek, technologically advanced; often the characteristics that are the exact opposite from the senior set.

I know it may not be as lucrative as some other demographics, but can’t technology hardware and software be available that caters to seniors? Think bigger buttons, simpler UI, streamlined file systems, less clutter. These developments might make for happier, more productive seniors on their laptops, tablets and phones. Seniors could be reenergized by technology versus being intimidated by it. They could pursue hobbies, connect with loved ones and feel empowered by tech’s freedoms and opportunities.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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5 Things to NOT do at your company’s next trade show – Part 3

In our first part and second part of this three-part series, we introduced the first two crucial mistakes that companies routinely make at trade shows.

Let’s close out this series with our final faux-pas about lead quality vs. lead quantity.

  1. Focus on quality not quantity
    I know – events are expensive. The expenses add up quickly – travel to the venue, hotel, food, booth fees, registration costs. As you tally up the totals, you can easily deduce, “Wow, we’re making a huge investment to go the ‘StarJumboBig’ show'; we must find a way to collect many leads” Your mind then goes into overdrive, developing strategies and tactics to capture ‘lead’ information from every human that walks within 100 yards of your booth. The result: you have many leads, but very few people are actually interested in what you have to offer. You have a bunch of names, but very few ‘opportunities’. You’ve polluted your database with contacts that could (if lightning strikes twice in the same spot) become your customer one day.

A better solution: set up your booth for strategic consultations. Try to listen more than you talk. Take thorough notesand understand why a visitor has decided to spend his/her time with you. Once you completely understand your prospect’s situation, repeat it back to him or her, and then position how your product or solution might be able to help. Don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole; if your product/service isn’t a match, recommend someone or somebody who might be. A goodwill gesture of that sort will pay dividends down the road.

Stay away from these 5 common conference/trade show mistakes and you’re on your way to make your company’s investment a positive one. Do you have a few tactics that have worked wonders for your company at a trade show? Please share.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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5 Things to NOT do at your company’s next trade show – Part 2

In our first part of this three-part series, we introduced the first two crucial mistakes that companies routinely make at trade shows.

Let’s continue our journey with reasons #3 and #4:

  1. Sit behind a table
    There are a few situations where I can see sitting behind a table making sense:
    a: if you are Troy Aikman (or any other famous person), and I’ve come to your autograph signing
    b: if you are a conference organizer, and I am checking in at the conference registration desk.

    Most other scenarios create an unnecessary barrier between vendor and visitor. Nothing creates a disparaging “I am vendor/you are prospect” vibe like placing a table in the middle of your booth. If you need a table to place information sheets, collateral, giveaway items, make it impossible for anyone to sit behind the table. Removing all chairs from your booth may cause some initial friction, but it ALWAYS helps engagement and quality of interactions.

  1. Wait for attendees to come to you
    It takes courage and gusto, but sometimes you might actually have to step outside your protective, comfortable, safe 10×10 booth and bring people to you. Think back to 7th grade dance. The girls were on one side of the room; the boys were on the other; it took a bold strike of confidence to walk over to the other gender’s side and make the 1st move. Be the person who takes the first step in understanding a) why did the person come to the show? b) what did he/she learn? Ask these two questions out of the gate and you remove the sleazy, used car salesman factor.

Stay tuned for our final part of this three-part series in a few weeks. You won’t disappointed by this last tip around lead quality vs. quantity.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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5 Things to NOT do at your company’s next trade show — Part 1

We’ve all worked trade shows at one point or another in our careers. It’s an easy gig, right? Stand there, talk to a few people, hand out a few goodies, and then wine and dine some customers or prospects.

If your company knew this is all you did, they’d have a serious problem. Engaging solely in these behaviors is hazardous for your future and your business’.

Here are the 5 behaviors you should NOT do at your company’s next trade show:

  1. Check your phone while working the booth
    I know – your friends just must see the pic you just snapped in the conference hall. If you absolutely, positively must pin something to Instagram, walk far, far away from your booth and pin away. Your company is paying you to represent the company professionally, make new contacts, answer questions from attendees about their challenges and how your product or service can help. As hard as it will be for some, keep the phone in your pocket or backpack.
  1. Create an environment that makes it difficult for attendees to talk with you
    People do the strangest things. I recently attended an event where the vendor had a set of speakers that continually played a voiceover loop of the company’s overview, mission and product specs. I walked up to the vendor and asked: “What do you do?” Instead of turning off the speakers, or giving me the ‘shh’ sign while pointing at the speakers, he tried to outduel the speaker with his loud, booming voice. After a few minutes of indecipherable babble from the well-intentioned vendor expert, I walked away from the booth with little direction as to how they could solve my problems.

Stay tuned for #3 and #4 of the ‘Things NOT to do at your company’s next trade show’.

Until next time,

Dan Naden


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