Product Managers Need To Learn To K.I.S.S. Their Customers

by drjim on February 18, 2013

You can tell when a customer is a sticky customer

You can tell when a customer is a sticky customer
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Doggone it – what do your customers really want? You try listening to them, you try sending them surveys, you meeting them at trade shows, and yet you still feel as though they just don’t quite understand how great your product really is and so they aren’t buying it. You’ve done everything that is included in the product development definition, what’s a product manager to do?

K.I.S.S.

I sure hope that you’ve heard of the K.I.S.S principle by now. What? You haven’t? Well, then perhaps some education is called for. The acronym K.I.S.S. stands for the phrase “Keep It Simple Stupid”.

Knowing what this really means should be something that is on every product manager resume.

What this means for product managers is that we need to search for ways to make it easy for our customers to buy our products. In this day and age of ever increasing marketing messages that we create and throw at our customers, this may not be so easy to do.

Remember, what needs to happen for a customer to actually buy your product is part of a complicated set of steps. They need to become aware of your product, decide that it’s the right one for them, and then buy it. If we provide our potential customers with too many marketing messages, then they’ll become flustered and they’ll never get around to that last step – actually making a purchase.

The researchers who study the whole buying process of customers have a name for what it takes to get a customer to follow through on an intended purchase – they call it “stickiness”. Is your product sticky?

How Do Customers Determine If Your Product Is Simple To Buy?

Make a good product and make it easy to buy and that’s exactly what customers will do. However, it’s that last part – make it easy to buy – that seems to trip a lot of product managers up.

As a product manager, you’d like to be able to attract and retain sticky customers. These are the ones who will buy many things from you. Now the big question is how to go about doing this?

The researchers who study sticky customer behavior have come up with a measure of how sticky a customer is and they call it the “decision simplicity index”. This index is based on three characteristics of your product’s marketing program.

The first is just how easy is it for your customers to gather information about your product. They’ll be using this information to understand what your product is and what it can do for them.

The next characteristic is just how much they can trust the information that they have gathered. This has a lot to do with where the information came from and the type of relationship that the customer has developed with that source over time.

Finally, it all comes down to how easily your customers can weigh the information that they have gathered. Not all information is equal and so each piece has to be compared against every other piece and then its relative value has to be determined.

Your job as a product manager is to make this purchase decision journey for your potential customers easier to do for your product. The better that you do this, the higher the decision simplicity index will be for your product and the more of your product you will sell.

What Does All Of This Mean For You?

If only being a successful product manager just meant creating the best product, then everything would be simple, right? It turns out that the job is a bit more complex than that – we need to be very careful in how we communicate with our customers so that we don’t overload them. Even though this is not on any product manager job description, you need to consider it to be part of your job.

Researchers have determined that in order to make a sale to a potential customer, our products need to have a high decision simplicity index. This index is based on how easy it is to collect information on our product, how much that information is trusted, and how easy it is to weight the information.

The good news is that controlling how we communicate with our customers is something that every product manager can do. However, we need to be very careful that we don’t do too much because that will cause our customers to take no action. Pick your words wisely and you’ll boost your product’s sales!

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

Question For You: How can you make your customers trust the information that they get about your product?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Ok, I give up. Enough people have been asking me how I do the job of product management, that I now feel compelled to share all of my secrets. Look, there are a lot of different product management frameworks out there and I’ve spent time studying them all. For some very compelling reasons, they’ve never quite lived up to the product development definition. They don’t seem to capture how I do the job of product management and so now I’m going to tell you just exactly how to be a product manager.

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