Don’t Even Think About Keeping Your Product Details Secret

by drjim on March 10, 2014

Don't think that you can hide your product from the outside world

Don’t think that you can hide your product from the outside world
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You’ve got a great product. In fact, it might even be a revolutionary product. Well, there are at least some features of your product and its product development definition that you are very proud of – nobody else has them. You would sure like to tell your customers about how great your product is, but you don’t want your competition to find out about it. Maybe you should keep all the interesting stuff secret…

How Product Managers Try To Keep Product Details Secret

The last thing that any product manager wants to do is to package up information about their product and ship it off to their competition’s inbox. We’ll all like a foolproof way of making sure that our collateral got into the hands of our potential customers and not into the hands of our competition. Bad news: that’s not going to happen.

Even though I think that we all understand that a committed competitor is eventually going to get a copy of anything that we produce that talks about our product, we want to slow the process down. Now the big question is how best to accomplish this? One simple way would be to never give any of our product information away over the Internet – I mean, can you really tell who’s requesting it? If you try to do this, it’s not going to look good on your product manager resume.

That might sound like a good idea; however, as we all know it’s just not going to fly in today’s busy business environment. Our potential customers want to learn about our product now and if they can’t get any information, then they’ll just go to our competitor’s web site and get their information.

Why Keeping Secrets Is Never A Good Idea

All too often what we product managers do is end up making it hard for our potential customers to get information about our products off of our web site. Just think about your company’s web site: do customers have to provide you with a great deal of personal information (name, email address, phone number, etc.) before you’ll allow them to download your product information?

If so, then I would challenge the quality of the information that you are getting: customers are annoyed by these forms and they tend to lie. However, your competition is committed to filling them out and they’ll get their hands on your documentation.

A much better way of handling this issue is to provide your customers with almost transparent access to your product information – make it easy to get it. Yes, your competition will get it also; however, they’ll get it anyway. Make it easy for your customers to find out about your product and they’ll become more interested in buying your product.

What All Of This Means For You

I hope that you are proud of your product. With a little luck, there are features of your product that your competition has not been able to match (yet). It can be very tempting to keep what makes your product special a secret; however, this can work against you and nobody’s product manager job description has asked them to make things hard for their customers.

Product managers like to take steps to make it hard to get product information when they feel that the product information is valuable. Making it hard to get product information has the possibility of back firing – potential customers may not be interested in your product enough to put up with your secrecy hurdles. However, your competition will always have enough patience to work through them!

When you are making product information available to potential customers, you need to think about how much effort they are going to have to go through to get it. Yes, considering your competition is something that you’ll have to do, but keep your focus on your potential customers. Ultimately, making life easier for your customers to buy from you will end up making your product more successful.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that you should change what product information you create because you know your competition will get ahold of it?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Sequestration is a big word that most of us are not familiar with. However, as product managers we should know it very well. What it refers to is when one of your customers decides to make across-the-board budget cuts. Sure they might be a great customer now, but when each one of their budgets gets slashed, what’s going to happen to your product sales then?

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