Building Market Authority

For those of you who don’t know, @cindyfsolomon and Adrienne run a weekly Product Management Twitter Talk. We invite notable Product Management professionals to lead and join discussions that hopefully enlighten and delight.

This is a summary of the 3rd Product Management Twitter Talk held on 22nd February 2011 (Sydney date). Here’s the full transcript.

This week’s talk on Building Market Authority was led by Jim Holland, the Head of Product Marketing at Rally Software.

The first question for the group to consider “How does Market Authority(or the lack of it) impact your organisation?

As a response to this question, a few participants wanted to explore what was meant by Market Authority.

Here are some responses:

  • saeedwkhan: Market Authority involves a clear understanding of your markets, products, competitors, buyers and users. It’s the foundation for a systematic approach to our work. And the foundation for making product decisions that are informed rather than arbitrary
  • jidoctor: Being the authority on the market
  • jim_holland: Its also about the connections between the product, competitors, buyers and users. Domain expertise is a component of market authority. Market Authority requires evidence. Must have good knowledge also of the process of buying, using & the day in life of user. You have to understand the economic buyer as well as the persona. Must have broadbased connections w/entire organization to communicate and receive vital market info
  • rcauvin: Market authority isn’t enough, however. To make informed product decisions, we apply universal marketing principles.
  • roadmapwarrior: Market authority also depends on knowing who your mkt actually is, definitions in a company are often too broad

JiDoctor followed with a stellar question:

“Does market authority mean you inherently have domain expertise or can it be acquired?”

The responses included:

  • Brainmates: Market authority can be acquired. It has to be or there would be no insights and subsequently growth
  • rcauvin: Somewhere there is a start to market authority…not EVERYone can inherit (or there’d be no movement)
  • saaedwkhan: Market Authority is to Product Management as deep technical understanding is to engineering

During the discussion, ErikaLAndersen posted a great question:

“Between economic buyer and persona — is one more important?”

  • rcauvin: You can (and generally should) compose personas for buyers and users
  • jidoctor: Understading all the personas & buyers is necessary for mkt authority
  • sehlhorst: I think of buyer persona as critical to _this_ sale, and user persona critical to _the next_ sales

Question 2: Does your organization use any methods to build and maintain market authority?

  • jidoctor: Market visits (w/ reports) & shared team learnings. But only if market visits are not a “one-time” event, but rather a cycle that is required…& where they take on a life
  • rcauvin: Product Management can take the lead in setting up database of prospects that have bought in to being interviewed, surveyed. Important part of #prodmgmt is to set up the *infrastructure* for continuously improving understanding of the market. When #prodmgmt sets up infrastructure for understanding the market, it is true leadership – enabling the team
  • nickcoster: Beer, coffee and lots of tolerance
  • leonardkish: User research combined with market research and user interviews, stakeholder interviews. Business model design methods.
  • jim_holland: Listening is critical. Being invited or showing up in the right conversations. Most Market Authority is built on active engagement inside and outside the organisation.
  • sehlhorst: Huge value in creating clarity of communication about market understanding in giant siloed organisations.
  • cindyfsolomon: Active engagement inside & out, Infrastructure: wikis, trade, talk #prodmgmttalk
  • Brainmates: Need to share information actively to demonstrate Mrkt Authority. No good having info sit on wikis etc. In response to Brainmates, sehlhorst said: Also need to share _interpretation_ of market info – e.g. what is relevant, what is red herring
  • roadmapwarrior: For me, “infrastructure” includes communication channels within the organisation regular insight meetings with sales & SMEs, and review of business development
  • johnpeltier: Quantify to show anecdote is really a trend

Question 3: What elements of market authority do you find most relevant?

  • leonardkish: Trust, need 3 aspects for authority: 1.Competence (knowledge, actions & engagement) 2.Consistency 3.Allegiance(shared goals). I’d also say transparency
  • sehlhorst: Real information. “Knowing” the problem or understanding the problem. I want to understand first, know second
  • roadmpawarrior: Most important is knowing actual problems not assumptions, all else should speak to that. Knowing = awareness of issue through evidence, understanding = seeing issues trickle-down
  • jidoctor: Trust can be earned after credibility is established.
  • rcauvin: Whole picture is important: how prospect probs, competitive landscape, etc. fit w/ positioning & marketing principles
  • cindyfsolomon: Achieving transparency requires multiple touch points & tools to communicate relevant & timely data

Question 4: What communications do you use to connect with Executives? Development? Marketing?

  • saaedwkhan: Multiple channels of communication (direct and indirect) are needed for all parties. Depends on the message and objectives. With Execs, it has to align with their objectives and probs. Does it help them move forward? If not it’s no value to them
  • rcauvin: Using decision facilitation along the lines of what @sharondrew teaches is helpful for getting buy-in for product decisions
  • sehlhorst: Also telling stories & premise for forecasting helps with executives. Data + anecdotes. Also need to know how to work through others to build consensus
  • jvocell: Important not to tell stories – but telling actual user stories. Often it’s better to have more than just Email. Yammer, an internal wiki, IM are all useful tools
  • leonardkish: User stories really help visualize and direction. Generating empathy is key
  • jim_holland: Internally, you need to understand personalities, positive/negative influences, who’s guiding the ship. Product Management often “thinks” they know who are internal influencers, but misses the hidden or underlying drivers. Product Management often is buried in deep domain conversations and forgets to engage early and often with others. Consensus is critical
  • roadmapwarrior: Communicate early & often – cover every stage from initial kernel of market prob through opportunity analysis, development. 1 thing i’ve seen: better to over-communicate with the organisation to prevent being thought of as ivory-tower
  • johnpeltier: Predictable communication helps

That’s it for this week. Please join us for Product Management Talk next Tuesday 10 AM Sydney time. We have Roger Cauvin, speaking on Innovation and Product Management.

To join us, we recommend you use Tweetchat and simply type in the #prodmgmttalk to follow the discussion.