Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Contradicting Instincts

Talking to a colleague on the phone about a month ago, I remarked that a significant amount of what a product manager does is recommend strategy that contradicts basic instincts. The basic instincts of marketing seem to include:

  1. Strive to make your product appeal to as broad and diverse market as possible.
  2. Ensure your product has all of the same features as the competition, plus more.
  3. Choose a name, logo, and web domain name that are as descriptive of your company or product as possible.
  4. Try to hide or play down your product's weaknesses.
Yet these instincts are generally the opposite of how you should be managing your product.

Instead of striving to appeal to as broad a market as possible, you often should carefully select a single segment that is sufficiently large and focus on it. Rather than worrying about me-too feature comparisons with competitors' products, you should concentrate on solving your target market's problems. Scientific studies show that names and logos bearing little or no resemblance to your product are more effective than descriptive names. Finally, you should be embracing your product's weaknesses in order to highlight its corresponding strengths.


clapoint said...

Re: "scientific studies show that names and logs bearing little or no resemblence to your product are more effective...". Wow, you took a HUGE leap of faith in applying this singular article on product naming whose final paragraph states "Kahn says the use of odd names seems to work best in products that rely on the senses, such as food or fashion, and would probably not work in a high-stakes product category such as healthcare or financial services."

Unless you are a product manager in the consumer sector, this really doesn't apply. In the technology sector, choosing a descriptive name (especially one that might position you in the same category as your top 2 competitors) is not a bad approach.

Roger L. Cauvin said...

Hi, thanks for the critique.

It's true that some experts and scientific studies have restricted their conclusions on this matter to consumer products. And perhaps it is a "huge" leap to generalize to the B2B market.

However, it's nowhere near as big a leap as assuming - as you appear to have done - that descriptive names are okay in the technology sector. I have yet to see a single study supporting that conclusion.