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Sunday, January 25, 2009

ProductCamp Austin Winter 2009

I went to the ProductCamp Austin on Saturday. It was an interesting experience because I don't have much of a background in Product Marketing or Product Management. A big part of why I wanted to attend was so that I could learn what distinguishes product marketing from the areas I'm more familiar with, marketing communications and lead generation.

From the sessions that I attended, product management and marketing deal extensively with customers. Much of the work is around understanding the customers needs and how they interact with a company's products and services. From a marketing perspective that puts a significant emphasis on customer personas -- how you create them and how you use them.

My biggest take-aways from ProductCamp were these:

1. Listen. Listen. Listen. -- Don't create the personas that you want, don't solve the problems that you wish customers had, don't tell stories that focus on your needs.

2. Data should always be used to monitor trending. An interesting point came up about personas being re-created every so often to reflect current customer needs. I don't think that point would be disputed by anyone. What I would build onto the practice of updating customer personas is building a model to follow trends in how those personas have changed over time.
- Are there specific aspects or attributes of your customers that continue to change with each iteration?
- Are the needs of your customers following industry trends or do they move in a different direction?
- What problems do you continue to see surface for your customers, or about your products?

I'm definitely glad I was able to attend this year's ProductCamp and looking forward to next year already.

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