SBI recently spoke with Jim Foxworthy, the president of Pragmatic Marketing. His company provides practical, actionable training that attendees can implement immediately. Their framework is a market driven model for managing and marketing technology products. We spoke to Jim about product launch execution in order to achieve the organization’s business objectives.
Determining New Product Launch Objectives
“You should be able to answer a very simple, yet important question – what problem are we trying to solve?” explained Jim. When you can answer that question, and do so in the words of the buyer and user you guarantee that what you are dioing meets the needs of the market. In the technology industry, Jim has witnessed an unfortunate history of building things because they can, not because they should. “I would say that if you’re in the middle of working on a particular product launch, put the brakes on, stop and think – can I answer that key question?” reiterated Jim.
Once you have a clear understanding of what issue you’re solving, you should next measure how urgent the problem is. How pervasive is it? In other works, how many people have this problem and are they willing to pay for a solution? This should drive all of your product decisions.
Additionally Jim believes the price should not be a reflection of what it cost you to build. Instead, it’s a reflection of the value of making the problem go away. You must establish that price and measure whether or not it’s in harmony with your buyer’s willingness to pay.
We next spoke about product enablement. Who owns product enablement and where should it live inside of the organization?
“Who owns it is whomever has been outside the building interacting with real people in their native habitat and uncovering unsolved market problems,” explained Jim. He believes that’s the cornerstone of what he calls product management. Without this knowledge, Jim believes you lose credibility.
So, what forms of market research does Jim recommend using? The richest form is face to face. It’s the most robust form of interaction. And at the end of the day it’s important to experience your buyer’s environment in order to best understand their needs.
We next turned the conversation to marketing. How can you develop the product content needed to enable the marketing team?
According to Jim, the answer is simple. It’s all about positioning. “Positioning is one of those things that’s oftentimes misunderstood in organizations,” said Jim. Too often the positioning isn’t even developed until companies are at the launch point, which is a mistake. At Pragmatic Marketing they put a lot of emphasis on ensuring the positioning document is produced before the business plan is completed. Why? Because positioning is not about features. It isn’t about the different or cool things your product does. It’s about the people and their problems. When created early on, the positioning document should be used as a leverage point for both marketing, and other functions in company.
We wrapped up our conversation by asking Jim to give our audience 3 pieces of advice they can use immediately. First, he stressed the importance of experiencing your buyer’s reality. They have a phrase at Pragmatic Marketing dedicated to this – NIHITO. It stands for nothing important happens in the office. It’s your job to make the people’s market problems to go away. Second, be cautious and ensure you don’t build solutions for only a couple of people. It’s tempting to make decisions based on select feedback. Instead, validate the problems you find and ensure they are pervasive. And finally, he once again stressed the importance of positioning documents. A good positioning document must be written early, and be used by the entire organization.