I went to a super cool class at Intelligent.ly on product management, taught by Christopher O’Donnell who does some kind of awesome at HubSpot. Check out these things, but wait till you’re done reading my post.
Walking home I was listening to the best song ever right now. You may know it. So in this here song, Carly Rae Whatever sings to her brandy new boyfriend, “Before you came into my life, I missed you so bad, I missed you so bad.” And this echoed a key idea about customer love that Christopher put forward in his talk. He said that as a product manager you should take a step back and figure out what it is that your customers will miss so bad before you come into their lives. Ok, not in those words.
What he actually said was that it’s a super valuable exercise to write a love letter to your product from the perspective of a customer in the future. It’s a cheesy activity. But so is pop music. And I dig them both.
So you pick apart your letter and figure out what values make a customer *love* your product. What is it exactly that makes your customer want to snuggle up with your product and a glass of shiraz? Cook it scallops in cream sauce. Drive it to the airport for a 6am flight. Stuff like that. Then you can read your letter, translate your sappy sentiments into core values and understand the customer for whom you’re building.
Then I started thinking about if it’s necessary to love your own products. And struggled with that. If you love something it’s hard to see the flaws, it’s hard to demand change and it’s really hard to kill pieces of it. It’s probably better NOT to love your product, right? In fact you might want to hate parts of it. So, Christopher, I thought to myself, all indignant, “How am I supposed to expect my customers to love my product if I don’t love my product? Hmmm?”
Oh wait, self. Duh.
It’s not a love letter to the product, it’s a love letter to the values the product delivers. That’s what he was getting at with wading through the cheese to find the value. It’s not about *loving* the way a navigation tool functions, it’s about loving that you find your information quickly. Hopefully I took this message home right, but I don’t think you should love any one feature or set of features, because someday you might kill it. But it is important to absolutely love and (even more importantly) understand the core values your product delivers to your customers.
Sidebar: in adding the links to this I went over to Mr. O’Donnell’s blog and found this post. Rock on:
If no one ever hates anything about your product, there is a good chance you are trying to build a “faster horse.” Fierce objections to a feature or approach indicate a break from the traditional worldview, and therefore an opportunity to change the world. - @markitecht