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Product Manager Tools

Marginal gain

Marginal gain can lead to market dominance

The product managers I meet are an ambitious bunch, often looking for ways to drive huge growth and dominate their market. My response sometimes surprises them “Huge product success often lies in the tiny detail”. Let me explain. In many markets the difference between product offers is pretty small. Winning in these markets can often be about tiny detail – a slightly better interface, a small feature, a better sales pitch or even a quicker response to a customer email. The point is that in competitive markets the detail counts. Rather than thinking about wholesale reinvention, many product managers should think of marginal gain – small scale improvements that in isolation mean nothing, but in aggregate can help you win. Market dominance can be achieved by being slightly better than your competitor most of the time. So what could you do today to slightly improve your product offer?

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Explain it simply

I’m going to get this printed on a t-shirt and give it to the next product manager who starts by telling me their product is complex to explain! Part of the art of great product management is making the complex as simple to understand as possible. Want to test you or your team on simplicity? Then try this; describe your new product offer/feature in 30 seconds or less to a group who are in your market. Wait 10 minutes and the ask them to describe your product offer. Did they remember it? If not, that’s your problem, not theirs.

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The most common Persona mistake?

The last few years has seen an increasing use of Personas and User Journeys across Product Management teams. They give us great insight and help us define products that truly meet customer needs. However, I see a common mistake; personas are so often focused solely on the end user. End users are important but they’re not the whole story – those end users won’t get to use your product if it does not make sense to the full value chain. Take a new credit card as an example; Banks would need to offer it and Merchants would need to accept it before consumers could access the value. The value chain will break at its weakest point of value.

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