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What Should We Be Doing?

by Craig Roth  |  May 22, 2019  |  Submit a Comment

“What should we be doing?” is the simplest question for a vendor to ask me, but impossible to answer without knowing about that vendor’s goals. As an end user analyst I could assume the goals to be beating out the competitors on features and growing. The vendors were asking what the end users are complaining about or saying they want. It was shorthand for “what should we be doing to get your recommendation?”

But as an advisor to vendors’ portfolio owners (we call them General Managers), product managers, and product marketers I am learning that I cannot make the same assumption about their goals.

The General Manager’s goal may be:

  • Growth over profitability (or vice-versa)
  • Ranking (to beat out the big guy at the top or join the “big 3”)
  • Define a new market, move the market, or disrupt the old market
  • Realizing a vision such as “making a difference in the way people work or collaborate or innovate or make decisions”
  • Exploration and adventure – to take a brave new path that hasn’t been taken before and see where it leads (like most such adventurers, this is best for the rich or those sponsored by the rich).

I know – you want to say “all of the above.” But that’s not possible since each one precludes the others to some extent. One may lead to the others in serial order (as adventures can lead to profitability, or profitability can feed R&D for growth), but not in parallel.

I enjoy great discussions with GMs, product managers, and product marketers about what they should be doing. But it starts with knowing their goals. Once I understand that, we can have an open dialogue about:

  • What keeps you up at night?
  • How is your management going to judge your success?
  • What bounds and resources do you have to work with?
  • What would a future success postcard from 5 yrs or 10 yrs from now look like to you?

Additional Resources

Category: product-marketingstrategy  

Craig Roth
Research VP, Tech and Service Providers
7 years at Gartner
28 years IT industry

Craig Roth is a Research Vice President focused on cloud office suites, collaboration tools, content management, and how they are being impacted by digital workplace and digital business trends...Read Full Bio




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