Want to be the Best in the World?

I recently had a debate with several colleagues about the following question; would you rather be the best in the world at one specific task or a jack of all trades? Viewpoints on the question were mixed.

On one hand, being the best in the world makes you an authority on whatever it is you are the best at. A jack of all trades may have a wide range of talents, but is unlikely to be called upon for knowledge on one particular subject.

On the other hand people that are the best at what they do spend endless hours perfecting their craft, but are often one dimensional. What does a professional athlete do after his or her career is finished? Malcolm Gladwell’s title “Outliers” suggests that it takes 10,000 hours for someone to master their craft. That’s over five years (based on a 37.5 hour work week) of working on only one specific task.

Product Management is one career path where it’s viewed as beneficial to have expertise in a number of areas. As the link between a number of organizational functions including technology, marketing and sales – having broad knowledge is important for developing the trust and support of the stakeholders Product Managers work with on a daily basis. A Software Product Manager without technical expertise may have difficulty communicating customer needs to the internal technology team. An effective product manager though, must also be able to communication benefits to the product’s end user in a way they’ll understand.

In Product Management, being the best in the world is not a matter of mastering one particular task. What are the key factors to perfecting your craft?

Advertisements

Where Do You Post-It?

If you’ve seen 3M’s latest efforts to sell Post-It Notes, you might be puzzled by what seems a non-traditional approach.  Post-It Notes’ current marketing campaign has targeted what was once a secondary customer group; the at home user.

In an increasingly paperless world Post-It Note usage in office environments will undoubtedly continue to decrease forcing 3M to proactively consider what other potential customers will contribute to revenue going forward.  While it may be some time before Post-It Notes are considered completely obsolete, the brand is smart to push for market growth in alternative customer segments.

Facing similar problems to the publishing industry, 3M is clearly attempting to make the most of it’s traditional business model while it searches for new revenue streams to fill the void that will one day exist in it’s office product line.  Innovative publishers must take a similar approach as they search for new opportunities in the digital space.

Aflac Looks for New Voice

Known for it’s strong social media presence, Aflac (and its trademark duck) recently entered some unfamiliar waters… hot water.

After making a number of insensitive cracks about the recent disaster in Japan, the voice of the Aflac duck was relieved of his duties.  As a result, the insurance company was in need of a new voice to represent its brand through the various social media platforms that it has been active on over the last several years.  However; what could have been a public relations disaster has been parlayed into a creative social campaign designed to find the next voice of the Aflac duck.

Aflac’s quick response to the situation distanced the brand from the opinions of  the its former spokesperson.  While incidents like these are unfortunate, the company’s deep involvement in social media allowed it to reach customers quickly to involve them in a search for a new voice.  This involvement has not only helped people forget about the recent comments, but will also undoubtedly lead to a voice that customers can resonate with.

The Daily

On February 2nd, the Daily became available on Apple’s iPad app store with a mission to provide a unique online news experience specifically for the iPad.  For some time the publishing industry has struggled to monetize online news content because of the availability free information on the Internet, but the creators of the Daily appear to be taking a step in the right direction.

Below is an overview of the Daily and some of it’s unique functionalities:

Described as living news, the Daily “combines text, image, sound, video and movement to tell stories that come alive the more you touch, swipe, tap and expolore”.

3 Reasons It’s Different

  1. Much of the Daily’s content is opinion-based, differentiating it from free sources of information that focus primarily on “the facts”.
  2. The Daily has been built specifically for the iPad, offering a superior viewing experience to competing offerings.
  3. It’s customizable and interactive; customers can indicate preferences including local weater and their favourite sports teams.

Recognizing that potential customers may need to experience the Daily to understand it’s value, the product is available for free on a two week trial.  Regularly the Daily is sold for only $39.00 a year or $0.99 a day.  If you don’t yet see the value proposition, I suggest you give it a try.  If nothing else you’ll get a taste for the direction the publishing industry is heading and the new formats publishers are testing to enhance the value of their content.

OpenTable Does Valentine’s Day the Right Way

In my most recent post I asked readers what Groupon could have done differently to avoid the grief they received from customers as a result of a misleading Valentine’s Day coupon.

But whose responsibility is it to indicate that prices may be higher than normal on Valentine’s Day?  Should customers be expected to know that prices are subject to change on certain holidays?

After booking my Valentine’s Day dinner through OpenTable I recognized a disclaimer at the bottom of my confirmation e-mail:

“Holiday Reminder:  This is a confirmed reservation for Valentine’s Day.  Given that some restaurants create special menus, you may wish to contact the restaurant for details about any prix-fixe menus and pricing.  Thank you.”

This simple disclaimer about a seemingly obvious condition protected OpenTable from potential Valentine’s Day scrutiny. OpenTable took the opposite approach to Groupon recognizing that it would be ill advised to assume a customer’s understanding of special circumstances. With new channels of online distribution at our disposal, we mustn’t forget the increased complexity of sales transactions and the importance of clear communication with potential buyers.

Groupon: 50% Off What?

Recently valued at over 5 billion dollars, Groupon has taken the impact of collective buying power to new heights. Customers receive 50-90% off coupons to some of their favourite products and services under the condition that a deal sells beyond a set “tipping point” set by Groupon and its partnering suppliers.

Today; however, Groupon was under scrutiny for a deal with FTD that offered 50% off flowers over Valentine’s Day.  The coupon redirected customers to a site that sold flowers at a higher price than on their regular website.  Groupon has since cancelled the offer and have been working with FTD on a solution to remedy the negative publicity.

While it’s good to know that Groupon is listening to its customers and taking corrective action, what do you think Groupon should do to prevent this in the future?  Though many subscribe to the belief that customers are always right – should they have been surprised that there would be a mark-up on flowers on the week of Valentine’s Day?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Let the Complaints Begin

The recent release of Apple’s newest innovation, the iPad, has taught me an important lesson. No matter how revolutionary or ground breaking a product, there will always be people waiting to complain about what’s wrong with it. At the end of the day, it’s human nature to complain and marketers need to accept that this is something that will never change.

Several iPad users have expressed discontent with the ease of connecting to the internet wirelessly (although this article will tell you that there’s more that’s wrong with it). Rather than take offense to negative comments, industry leading organizations make productive use of the feedback they receive, no matter how ridiculous the suggestions might seem. Almost without a doubt, we can expect the second generation iPad to have worked out any quirks associated with connecting wirelessly. Online channels only increase the space available for consumers to voice their concerns, which has given progressive companies an additional source for information for potential product improvements.

Companies that use consumer feedback to push what can be considered within the realm of possibility will always be better off in the long term. Nothing is ever perfect, but a company’s goal should always be to get as close to perfection as possible.