Friday, May 15, 2009

Value Proposition

Value proposition is probably the trickiest work that a product manager would have to do. Recently I worked with several colleagues on the value propositions for their products and it was fun.

Good value proposition should be a simple one sentence describing the product and compelling enough for readers to take the next step. Yet, it should not be too laden with jargons, "warm and fuzzy feeling", or full of big empty words… Tangible results in one sentence.

I wrote about a process to come up with a value proposition a couple of years back in this blog and now looking back, I don't think it has changed that much. Here's the pictorial view of the process:

The process is simple:

  • Market segments: which target market segment(s) that the product will serve
  • Key Product messages/statements: these are the benefits that will solve customers' problems
  • Features: this is how the product will solve the problems
  • Competitors: the main competitors in the target segments
  • Competitive Analysis Differentiators: the product's differentiators deriving from the product's strong benefits that competitors do not have

Of course, you can always "word smith" it to make it fit your product and your company brand strategy. Also, what I have found is that the competitive piece is best for your sales force and the rest is the key value proposition for your customers. Here are the two examples that I found:

  • Weak value proposition: "ABC Corp. is the premier B2B portal for small businesses looking to grow" – very subjective (premier of what) and did not deliver tangible results to its customers (growing businesses how)
  • Strong value proposition: "XYZ Corp. is the exclusive provider of patent-pending project management software for paving contractors, saving US contractors over $34M in 2005" – Market segment is paving contractors; Benefit: saving contractors $34M; Features: patent-pending project management software. It has all the elements above plus a differentiator: patent-pending.

I welcome comments and suggestions to make this process better.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Update on UlluTek

It has been interesting to get an open source project off the ground... Everything that I learned in the MBA school is pretty much tossed out of the window. We have a high level mission "creating simple products to accelerate the adoption of complex technologies that we love" but outside of that, it has been a constant change.

Ultimately, we want to make UlluTek a commercial success. However, we want people to adopt cool technologies as well. It's a balance between opening it up our design and a desire to get cash flow. In a way, I think it's very refreshing. We get to communicate EVERYTHING that we do to the public. If we were behind schedule, everyone knows... No need to spin anything.

In additon, I get to test out the social media channel - specifically with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I am seeing that our traffic to the website spiked after each status that I posted on these websites - another proof that businesses can really get closer to their customers through social media. Let's see how the visits to our website improve if all of our team members utilize their own social network.

For now, we are getting more team members to join us through connections that we know. We want to give the public more useful products to play with soon. Please come and visit us at UlluTek.