Sunday, February 15, 2009


Nothing Important Happens In The Office. This phrase comes from the folks at Pragmatic Marketing. While it may be a bit of stretch in some cases, there is much more than a grain of truth to it. As product managers hunkered down in our palatial digs – ok, cubes – we often take for granted information regarding our product, business, or market about which many customers and prospects have little clue.

This fact is readily proved out the moment you exit the office and start talking with customers. Picking their brains on their home turf or at neutral sites like trade shows and conferences can be invaluable.

As one who is intimately familiar with your field, you may take for granted that all breathing hominoids are aware of basic specs or product usage surrounding your gizmo. In believing this, it’s entirely possible you’ll miss a golden opportunity to deliver to the customer the value your product can provide AND instill in that person the perception that you are a trusted advisor with whom they can relate.

The best part of this story is that getting out of the office and talking with customers and prospects to develop information doesn’t require advanced knowledge of industry research technique. Nor do you need to grasp advanced statistical analysis to divine answers from the information.

Put directly, you only need to be able to listen and speak as any normal human is capable of doing. Ask simple questions and listen to the answers. No need for copious notes, fogging the conversation with technical minutiae, or extolling the virtues of your device through an lengthy sales monolog.

An easy, social chat can reveal remarkable details – or lack thereof – about your customer or prospect’s knowledge of your offering. These nuggets, when aggregated, can paint an astounding picture of opportunity into which your product can be inserted.

Although it’s not likely you’ll get well defined, easily dissected, quantitative information, the qualitative information you gather from these social interactions helps provide color and texture to the lines and delineation which focused market research normally provide. Nuance, perception, and emotion, which frequently escape quantitative studies and which can doom decisions if missed, are available to you through personal interaction. Don’t miss out on it because you can’t escape the office.

Nothing Important Happens In The Office… don’t let your business and your career run aground because you thought EVERYTHING important happened in the office. Go talk to the customer. You may find out the experience is not only valuable to your business, you may also learn that it’s actually fun!

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