Archive for: May, 2023

How Do Product Managers Prepare For A Marketing Disaster?

May 20 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

As product managers we generally spend our time trying to find ways to update our product development definition in order to make our product be more appealing to potential customers. Our goal is to convince them that we make a good product that will solve whatever their problems happen to be. The one thing that we never seem to spend any time worrying about is what to do if there is a marketing disaster. Do you even know what one of those looks like?

What Is A Marketing Disaster?

The first thing that a product manager needs to understand is just exactly what a marketing catastrophe is. If we don’t know what they look like, then there is no way that we’re going to be able to recognize it if it happens and that won’t look good on our product manager resume. A marketing catastrophe is any event that could negatively impact the profitability or reputation of either your product or your company.

The world that we live in today is unique in that the arrival of advanced technology tools allows for stories and rumors about products or companies to travel very quickly. No matter if the story has to do with a misstatement by a member of your company’s management or marketing team, a product defect, or a court ruling that goes against your company, your potential customers may be aware of it before you could say “Twitter”.

As a product manager you need to understand that a marketing calamity could happen at any time. The most important question that the rest of the company is going to be looking to you to answer is going to be “how big of a deal is this?” You are going to have to be able to quickly and efficiently evaluate the severity to of the marketing calamity so that you can make a recommendation to the company as to just exactly how many resources they need to dedicate to dealing with it.

What Is The Best Way To Gage The Severity Of A Marketing Disaster?

Product managers need to create a way to evaluate just how severe a marketing disaster is. The good news is that we are not alone in having to do this. The experts who work in the field of creating disaster recovery plans have been doing this for years. We can build on their work when we are creating our tools to evaluate the severity of a marketing disaster.

When creating a marketing severity tool, there are three things that a product manager needs to keep in mind:

  1. Limit The Number Of Categories To 5: It can be far too easy to get carried away with creating a large number of different marketing disaster categories. Don’t do it. Instead, try to limit yourself to creating no more than 5 different categories that run the range from “no big deal” to “may cause the company to go out of business”.
  2. Determine “Impact”: Every marketing disaster will be different. As the product manager, it is going to be your job to create a way to evaluate the impact that this event is going to have on your product and on your company. Keep in mind that the intensity / firestorm that may accompany an event may have nothing to do with its long-term impact.
  3. Create An Action Plan: Make sure that you have an action plan created for each category of marketing disaster. This will help the rest of the company to understand what they are going to need to do once the current marketing disaster has been placed into a category.

What Does All Of This Mean For You?

As though being a product manager was not hard enough, it turns out that another thing that needs to be added to our product manager job description is the ability to understand that in the world that we live in bad things can happen. Specifically, marketing disasters can happen. A marketing disaster puts our product’s reputation at risk and can impact the future success of our product.

Product managers need to realize that it is their responsibility to create the tools that their company is going to need in order to gage the severity of any marketing disaster that strikes them. These tools are going to have to limit the number of different categories that marketing disasters get classified into, determine the impact of the event, and identify what action plan will need to be executed.

The good news is that when (note that I did not say “if”) a marketing disaster strikes your product or your company, if you have a tool that will allow you to judge the event’s severity, then you’ll be well suited to deal with it. Product managers who can evaluate how important a marketing disaster are the ones who will be best suited to guiding their products through it.

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Use Apologies Judiciously to Negotiate Successfully

May 20 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

When negotiating, there are times when apologies will hurt, more than help your position. In general, when apologies are offered sincerely and perceived as such, they tend to soften an opponent and endear you to him. Nevertheless, before offering apologies in a negotiation remember, an opposing negotiator can use your apology to place you into an unsellable or diminished position.

Ponder the following situation and reflect upon how and when you should apologize during your negotiations.

Consider the scenario of the CEO of British Petroleum (BP) testifying before the U.S. Congress, as to how and why the Gulf oil spill occurred; the oil spill has devastated the region ecologically and economically. BP had to escrow $20 Billion dollars for the mishap. After BP’s culpability had been established, a US Congressman apologized to the CEO of BP, for the ‘shake down’ that occurred of BP by the ‘White House’. The Congressman not only diluted the efforts to keep the ‘fire to the feet’ of BP with his apology, he also jeopardized his party’s positioning, related to how the general population (voting public) viewed his party’s stance on the oil spill.

You might ask who in their right mind would make such an apology, in such a situation. The answer, someone that did not ‘think’, or think he was negotiating. In reality, you’re always negotiating.

When considering the right time to offer an apology during a negotiation, consider the following 5 thoughts…

1. Apologies can lead to requests for more apologies.

2. Apologies can make the apologizer appear to be guilty of that for which he’s apologizing. Such actions can bring suspension upon future actions in the negotiation.

3. Apologies can weaken a negotiator’s future positioning, as the result of being brought up at a strategic time during the negotiation.

4. Apologies have their place. As an efficient negotiator, you should use apologies judiciously, so as not to have them appear trite, superficial, or without contemplation.

5. Apologies can lead to a cornucopia of unknown and unseen problems in the future negotiations.

Even though the CEO of BP apologized for the catastrophe and stated that he was ‘deeply sorry’ for the Gulf oil spill, those receiving his message did so with apprehension. Instead of having his apology received as being genuine, it was perceived by most as being contrived, due to prior statements he’d made. In prior statements, he seemed to lack empathy and a true understanding of the enormity of the situation. Thus, when delivering his apology before the US Congress, he was already positioned to be viewed disdainfully.

When you consider the timing of your apologies during a negotiation, take into consideration your prior actions and proceed based on how your next apology might be received. If you can adopt an action other than apologizing that conveys your state of sorrow do so. You’ll save yourself the possible agony of being out-positioned in the negotiation… and everything will be right with the world.

The Negotiation Tips Are…

· As children and young adults, our parents instilled in us the righteousness of apologizing for our transgressions. Nevertheless, before making an apology, one should consider the priority of what one seeks to accomplish from the negotiation and the ramifications of the apology.

· Before trying to turn a situation from ‘ashy to classy’ by apologizing, consider the positioning of such actions and how it might situate you in the negotiation.

· Don’t let your short term situation compromise your long term goals by an errant apology. If you’d like to display regret for casting a wayward word or act, consider doing so by making a concession that won’t come back to haunt you during the negotiation.

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Negotiate Successfully Using ‘Inside Information’

May 20 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

When you negotiate and you have ‘inside information’, do you know when or how to use it? There is an undervalued force that speaks, but makes no sound, a force that can’t be seen, but one that can have a great impact on any negotiation. It’s a force that can be used to strengthen your negotiation position. It’s a force that can be used to ferret out statements that are not truthful, during a negotiation. That force is ‘inside information’. It differs from ‘insider’ information, but used correctly, it can be just as advantageous.

‘Inside information’ is a term I’ve coined as information you gather before and during a negotiation that can be used at strategic points in the negotiation. It’s information gathered legally from sources that are uncovered as the result of the research you do before negotiating.

Recently, a real estate investor friend of mine sought my advice on a negotiation situation she encountered. She was in the process of making an offer on a property that had listed for $2.2 million. The existing owner stated he had made a million dollars worth of upgrades to the property and thus the ‘real value’ was worth a sum closer to $3 million. When the property’s appraisal, the price at which comparable properties sold for in the area, came back, the property was valued at $1.9 million.

The owner of the property did not know my friend had received the information displayed in the appraisal and thus, he was still trying to tout the property’s value as $2.2 million. My friend asked the owner if he could lower the price of the property and the owner indicated he couldn’t at that time.

My friend had several pieces of ‘inside information’.

1. She knew the property had been on the market for more than a year.

2. She knew the owner was getting very anxious to sell.

3. She knew the appraisal of the property was valued below the asking price.

4. She knew the current housing market was more than likely going to a see a continuing decline in property values.

I suggested she let a week or so pass and then contact the owner again. In the follow up conversation, I suggested she give the owner statistical information showing where property values were in his area a year ago, where they are today, and where they might be a year from now. I also suggested she let him know that she knew what the appraisal was for the property. She followed my suggestion and a few weeks later, she bought the property for $1.75 million.

As I stated at the onset of this lesson, ‘inside information’ is different than insider information. I make that distinction to highlight the fact that you should not feel badly about using ‘inside information’; it’s information that you gather as the result of doing your due diligence before and during the negotiation process. It’s not information gathered from an illegal manner or source.

How then do you determine when to use ‘inside information’? You should always consider the following factors as an indicator as to the timing of using such information …

1. Make a determination as to the believability of the information you have before using it. In some cases, with some negotiators, you can do more harm than good by introducing information that’s not believable, even if it’s verifiable.

2. Assess the value the information will have on the overall outcome of the negotiation. Some negotiators will become rigid and immobile when presented with information that’s drastically counter to their position.

3. Use ‘inside information’ as a positioning tool, if you wish to let your negotiation partner know that you are aware of more than he may think you know (Be careful not to display the information in a manner that could be perceived as threatening. Depending on the timing of its use, you can either enhance or break rapport).

When you negotiate, be less distracted and more determined to reach the goals you’ve set for the negotiation. If the overall goal of the negotiation is worth the effort you undertake to reach a successful outcome, use the ‘inside information’ you have at your disposal. Don’t be bashful about using this tool as an aid. If you’re concerned about how you will be viewed, don’t display, nor use all the information you have. Do what you can, with what you have to justify the outcome of the negotiation in your mind. If you use ‘inside information’ correctly, you’ll make yourself and your negotiation partner feel good about the outcome of the negotiation … and everything will be right with the world.

The Negotiation Lessons are …

· When negotiating, if you’re negotiating against a shifty negotiator, use ‘inside information’ as a way to ‘keep him honest’. Don’t disclose everything you know at one time.

· Determine what type of information will best motivate your negotiation partner. With some negotiators, hard, verifiable statistical information will move them closer to your position, while others may be motivated to move to your position, because ‘everyone else is doing’ what your information indicates.

· Always be aware of the impact ‘inside information’ might have on the negotiation and make sure your information is valid. If it’s not, you’ll lose credibility and positioning in the negotiation. If you can’t somewhat predict what the outcome might be as the result of using the information, be cautious how you interject it into the negotiation.

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25 Out of the Box Ideas for Improving Your Product Listings Pages

May 19 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

An extremely critical step in the purchase process occurs on the product
category pages of an e-commerce site. First of all, a definition is in order.
Product category pages are pages that show listings for all products within a
certain category, and provide a hyperlink to get more information on the product
page. Every product based e-commerce store has them, but not all of them are
created equal. Many of the suggestions below vary greatly in their complexity
and may not suite all businesses. However, I hope you’ll find something you can
implement on your e-commerce site.

  1. More Items Per Page: In the past, it was advantageous to show only a few products per page due to slower dial up connections. With most surfers on DSL now, it makes sense to show more products per page, so users don’t have to constantly click to the next page. Also, be sure to allow them to view more than the preset amount of items.
  2. Add to Cart Button: Don’t underestimate the eagerness of your customers to buy. If they know what they are looking for, many won’t need to go all the way to the product page in order to click add to cart. If possible, put the “Buy Now” or “Add to Cart” button directly on the product listings page.
  3. Auto Following Navigation: Most sites have a left or top navigation structure. However, unless the site uses frames, when the user scrolls down, this navigation will not be accessible. Create a dynamic navigation that follows them down the page. This will ensure they are able easily move to a different category.
  4. Compare Checkbox: Allow customers to easily compare items by placing a checkbox next to each product listing.
  5. Sort by Price: Let’s face it. Price is one of the most important factors for most consumers. Give them a way to answer the ubiquitous question, “which one’s the cheapest?” by letting them sort by price.
  6. Sort by Sale / Clearance: Every customer base has its bargain hunters. Highlight sale or clearance price merchandise by letting them view those items first.
  7. Sort by Age: Your repeat visitors will greatly appreciate this. The first thing on the repeat customers mind when they hit your site will be “What’s new?”
  8. Sort by User Ratings: Product peer reviews are becoming increasingly important to online shoppers. Many have begun the expect them. Let people easily see which products are rated the best by other buyers.
  9. Sort by Best Seller: No one likes to feel they are the first one buying something. Ever heard of this psychological merchandising trick? Make a perfectly stacked pile of widgets and place them in a prime location in a store, and they won’t sell. However, take a few widgets out of the pile, and people think they are selling like hot-cakes and grab one for themselves. All that to say… let your visitors view the top selling products first.
  10. Sorting & Filtering Options at Top and Bottom: It’s important to show your filtering options on both the top and bottom of your category pages. While most sites show them on top, many neglect to feature them for easy access at the bottom of the page as well.
  11. Filter by Brand: For the brand conscience, let people filter down and eliminate items they don’t want to see. Remember, once they are on your product listing pages, your goal should not be to show them as many products as possible, but rather to filter down to the ones they are interested in.
  12. Filter by Color/Size/etc: Have you ever shopped the clearance rack at a clothing store? Usually, items are merchandised by size. Or take shopping for paint at a hardware store. Most people walk right to the color family they desire, then decide from there. What your e-business sells will determine what type of filters you should create.
  13. “Save These Settings” Feature: Suppose you’re browsing a certain product category on a site. After telling the website you want to see the items sorted by lowest price first with 50 products per page, you’re irritated to find that your settings have been lost when you move to a different product category. To prevent situations like this, save a user’s settings to the most recently selected ones, or allow them to click an option to save them across the whole site.
  14. Breadcrumb Navigation: It’s easy for visitors to get lost in an endless trail of sub-sub-sub categories. Show them where they are and where they’ve been with cookie crumb navs.
  15. View All Feature: It’s easiest to compare products when they are all displayed on one page. Give your visitors the option of to “view all.”
  16. Unique Content in Title & Meta Tags: One of the most challenging issues with product category pages from an SEO point of view is that they all appear similar and contain little content. If possible, ensure that the title and meta tag content for each page within a product category is unique.
  17. Click to Any Page Navigation: I can’t stand it when a website only gives you a “previous” and “next” button to click through the product category. Allow visitors to go exactly to the page number they desire by creating hyperlinks to each page number.
  18. Eliminate Parameters from URL: Here’s a rule of thumb, if your category urls are so ugly that it’s impossible to remember one, then odds are the search engines won’t remember them either. If you must use a parameter in the url (i.e. ID=123), try to use only one.
  19. SEO Friendly URLs: Better yet, convert url’s like this: to something like []. This can be accomplished by using a re-write engine.
  20. Highlight New & Sale Merchandise: Include an icon or other indicator to show that an item is on sale or is brand new.
  21. Show “Real Life” Photos: Showing pics of your products in real life situations brings your pages to life and is much more appealing than a dull list of names and prices.
  22. Prominent Search Function: People tend to use search as the first resort or the last resort. If they are unable to find what they want from browsing your category pages, they will look for a search option. Make this feature available on every page of your site.
  23. Make Product Images Clickable: I’m still surprised when I see sites that force you to click on the text of the product name to get to the product page. Make sure the product image is clickable as well.
  24. Need Help Deciding? It’s a well-known fact that having to many products to choose from can be just as bad as not having enough. Help your customers make a decision by linking to a “Help Me Decide” page that compares the benefits of each product type.

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5 Best Ways to Display Your Products Online

May 18 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

Many businesses expect their websites to be a tool to find new customers. The point of the company’s website is to create interest in the product – hopefully enough interest that the person looking at the website wants to buy one the products displayed on your website.

However, there is strong competition online in almost every industry. If those pages on your website providing information about your products do not stand out from the competition, you will not find those new customers as desired.

How do your present your products on your website in a way that makes you stand out? Here are five best practices to follow for putting your products on your website. These apply no matter if the products are sold online or offline.

1. Individual Pages. Each product needs to have a separate page on your website. This keeps the focus on just that product, making it less confusing to the person looking at the product’s individual page. This also gives you a full-page to devote to describing the many benefits of that particular product you are selling.

Among other benefits, having a unique page for each product will let search engines easily include, or index, that product page in the search results. The easier you make it for search engines to index a page, the more likely that page will appear in the search results where potential customers can find it.

2. Unique Content. On every single product page, you need descriptive content. The content must explain what the product is, why somebody would need it and why somebody should buy that product from your company. You do not need a lot of content but you need enough to convince the potential customer.

If you are reselling a product, be sure to write unique content about the product for your website. Reusing content from a distributor or vendor makes the product on your website no different from your competitor’s websites. On the other hand, using unique content will make you stand out from the competition.

3. Photos/Videos. Photos and videos give the customer a clear idea of what to expect when they buy your product. Place at least one really good quality photo or high quality video of that product on the product’s individual page.

In addition to providing a clear description of the product, the photos and videos add more value to the product content. This added value helps make your company and your website more distinctive and gives you an edge your competition lacks.

4. Organization. Organize your products in a clear way that makes sense to your customer. The easier you make it for potential customers to find the products you have available on your website, the more likely they are to buy those products from your company.

One technique frequently used for organizing products is grouping products into categories. Keep in mind that too many categories can cause confusion. Confused customers leave the website. By keeping your categories to a minimum your website will be organized and customers will not be confused.

5. Call to Action. Ultimately, you want people looking at your products to buy those products. In some cases, the buying process happens online via a shopping cart. In other cases, you want the potential customer to call you to place an order.

Regardless of how they buy the product you are selling, keep the call to action simple. Place the call to action where people cannot miss it. For example, at the top of the page state in no uncertain terms that the user is to call you to order the product.

All five of these best practices center on one common theme: make your website, and the products you are presenting on the website, stand out from the crowd. If your website offers more of the same, nobody looking at your website will buy from you. If instead you follow these five tips, your website will become an an effective tool to help your business find new customers.

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