Category Archives: Ethan

Posts by Ethan Henry

There is no such thing as bad press

OR: Misery loves company, especially company that can go onto your Twitter stream.

So assuming you’ve read the Interwebs lately you’ve hard the tale of how an Apple employee lost a next-generation iPhone test unit at a bar where it was found and sold to a gadget blog. Sordid stuff.

Many commenters immediately assumed that the person who lost the phone would be fired, but that has not yet been reported to happen. So perhaps he merely has to spend a few weeks in the penalty box at work.

(Note to the CrankyPM: Yes, your CEO can drop his laptop off his yacht without penalty, but if you lose a hotel receipt there’s hell to pay, right?)

At any rate, of all the things that might come out of such an incident, this is an unlikely one: Lufthansa has offered to fly the person-who-lost-something (I hate to pile on by calling the poor guy a “loser”) to Munich.

You see, he lost the phone at a German-style bar, tenuous connection, etc.

Now, it takes a lot of nerve to offer this poor Apple employee a reward for making one of the biggest mistakes in recent company history (with the exception of MobileMe, zing!) but, the real question is: how much nerve does it take to accept the offer?

And is this a legitimate use of social media marketing or is it, as a Lufthansa employee would succinctly put it, just Schadenfreude?

Feedback from Sales

A comment left over at the Inside Sales Experts Blog provides a rebuttal to the common view of sales people by Product Managers:

Son, we live in the world of software , and that software needs to be sold. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Mr. Product Manger? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for your product and you curse the sales people. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: over zealous sales practices , while tragic, probably saved jobs. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, creates YOUR job. You don’t want the truth because, deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me in sales, you need me sales.
We use words phrases like cold calling, lead generation and closing. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent selling something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under a blanket of the very revenue I produce and then questions the manner in which I produce it. I would rather you just said “thank you” and went on your way. Otherwise I suggest you pick up a telephone and make a sale. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.”

On measuring product/market fit

There’s an interesting interview on measuring product/market fit at Venturehacks: Apparently it’s easier to launch products that have a great fit with their target markets. Thankfully the interview goes into somewhat more depth than that one insight.

Our Presentation at PMEC Battle of the Bloggers

Last week I participated in the 1st Annual PMEC Battle of the Bloggers. Out of a field of about 10 contestants, I placed second in the competition. Curse you April Dunford! I can honestly say you phoned it in, but somehow you won.

And while I’d love to find video of the actual event [hint hint to anyone who was there with a video camera!], here’s the next best thing. It’s a recording of my presentation for your viewing and listening pleasure. It’s not quite as good as being there, but then whose fault is that? 🙂

NOTE: Make sure you have the sound on otherwise it won’t make a lot of sense.

NOTE: Make sure you have the sound on otherwise it won’t make a lot of sense.



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Battlin’ Bloggers

battle_of_the_planetsOn behalf of Saeed, Alan and myself, I’ll be speaking on November 17th at the 2009 AIPMM Product Management Educational Conference in the Battle of the Bloggers. Come and see me prove that three heads are better than one when it comes to Product Management blogging. (The full conference runs Nov 16th & 17th)

Stupid Marketer… or Enlightened Stupid Marketer?

“It’s a myth that marketers chose their occupation because they got C’s in school”

(hat tip to Church of the Customer)

Wither Tradeshows?

If there’s one thing that I always loved as a Product Manager, it was a trade show.

No, really. All you other Product Manager can stop scoffing. It was a chance to get out of the office, to take a break from arguing with the development team. I got to meet not just customers, but honest-to-god PROSPECTS, people who might buy my product but haven’t or won’t. I got to check out the competition face-to-face and shoulder-surf a demo of their product. Heck, I even did a bit of networking to line up potential future jobs.

But the trade show has fallen on tough times: Novell Cancels BrainShare Conference After 20 Years. Apple announces its last year at Macworld Expo, no Jobs keynote. Attendance at conferences like SD West and JavaOne is way down from their glory days during the 2000-era bubble. Travel costs remain high, making it hard to get a compelling ROI on trade show lead generation while web- and email-based lead generation tools are better than they’ve ever been before.

So what’s a Product Manager to do? Stick around the office all day and stare sullenly at your half-finished MRD that lacks compelling user stories?

One – start your own conference. Eloqua (where I used to work) started their own user conference, Eloqua Experience. Eloqua isn’t a huge company – their customers number in the hundreds, not the thousands. But the product becomes the primary tool for the marketers that purchase it, so Eloqua has an incentive to get really deep with their users to help them be successful with the product and to try to understand what they need to do to make the product better. And since Eloqua is a Saas product, keeping customers happy and getting them to renew their contracts is incredibly important. Holding your own conference is a huge investment of both money and the time required to organize a big event, but it can pay off, both directly (it’s not hard to run a profitable conference) and through improved engagement with your customers.

Two – find an “adjacent” conference. If you can’t go to Brainshare, maybe a Microsoft conference would be the next best thing. Assuming you have the budget of course.

Three – find a new way to generate leads. If you’re going to a trade show just to scan badges and collect business cards then let me be the first to tell you that you’re behind the times. Web-based lead generation is far less expensive and far more effective than trade shows. And please don’t tell me you’re still running magazine ads too. I mean, how hard is it to start your own magazine these days?

Four – dedicate more time to making old-fashioned phone calls. Call small customers. Call big customers. Call everyone that dropped out of your sales funnel last month. I don’t think telephone calls can ever replace the much higher value of a face-to-face conversation but until it’s back to the good ol’ days of fat travel budgets, do what you can.

And finally, skim a few dollars out of your budget to buy some stupid tradeshow swag to hand out to everyone in the office. Nothing improves morale like a ceramic shot glass with your logo or a squeezable foam kidney.