The Cranky Product Manager has taken up grinding her teeth once again. It’s the frustration. From dealing with Development. What is it this time? Well, let the CPM explain.
The Cranky PM is sure that most of her product management brethren are familiar with that oft-cited formula for a product positioning statement:
For [target customer], who wants/needs [compelling reason to buy], the [product name] is a [product category] that provides [key benefits].
Unlike [main competitors], the [product name] [key product differentiation].
It should not surprise you that the Cranky Product Manager finds creating positioning statements to be VERY valuable. She’s a big fan. Because you can’t do everything and you need to focus. Because people are very different and thus their needs, wants, and priorities are varied. Because if your product doesn’t solve at least 80% of some customer’s problem, you probably shouldn’t even bother. This all seems obvious to her. It’s baked into her DNA.
So she asks for your suggestions please! What should the Cranky Product do to the DysfunctoSoft Sr. VP of Engineering (whom the Cranky PM happens to report to) who objects to the first part of this formula — namely the practice of identifying the target customer?
Waterboarding? Tacks on his chair? Club him on the head with Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm book (the Cranky Product Manager’s all-time-favorite product management book, btw)?
Listen to the ramblings of the idiot:
Why should we limit ourselves to just those types of customers? EVERYONE needs our stuff. Can we say “everyone” for our target?
Why do we have to have a target customer anyway? Google didn’t have a target customer.(Actually, the CPM suspects they did, but whatev.)
Well, ok, if you really want me to narrow it down, how about we say ‘everyone with money’? Or ‘users at large enterprises and SMBs located domestically and abroad’? Or ‘everyone who uses computers’?
If we limit ourselves, we’re in danger of leaving money on the table. We’re going to take over the WORLD one day with our awesome technology — it will be as ubiquitous as water. So I think specifying a target market is dangerous and dumb. No one specified a target market for water, and look at how successful water is!
ARGGGH. Seriously, these arguments are so nonsensical to the Cranky Product Manager she finds herself having difficulty even grasping them. To her, they’re like answering the questions “Why do we have to EARN money with our software, anyway?” or maybe “Why do we want people to buy our software anyway? It’ll send support costs through the roof!”
Please help. Before the Cranky Product Manager is forced to get one of those saves-your-teeth-but-kills-your-marriage bite plate thingies.