Browsing Tag

Agile software development

Marketing is in the Middle: John Peltier

John Peltier is an interesting guy who I’ve just recently gotten to know better now that he is an Atlanta-ish resident which I am glad I have.    I first met him via ProductCamp Austin, btw – the whole Austin crew is just a good group of folks and for a single city I think Austin might have more product marketing and product management bloggers per capita than anywhere. Second I think is Toronto maybe. Which reminds me, John blogs as well @ and is still active in  Product Camps,  now that he has moved to Atlanta he is actively engaged in helping the team make the 4th PCAMPATL a success as well.

John provides some interesting insights into the journey many technology marketing folks take which often starts in the tech side of the business in his responses.  John is currently a product manager and  product owner.

What marketing roles have you had and in what markets?
I’ve got a little inbound and a little outbound marketing.  My primary outbound marketing experience was the year I spent as Marketing Lead for ProductCamp Austin.  On the inbound side, I’ve spent three years in product management.

When you look at your career in marketing, what activities have you found most interesting/challenging?

As a technologist with a background in quality assurance and technical support, my biggest ramp-up was the business side of things — the interpersonal relationships and consensus building, as well as the financial analysis.

Based on your experience what activities do you think get the most return?

The biggest return comes from relationship building and understanding what products to build for the market and what the business constraints are.  Validating which problems people are willing to pay to solve helps ensure financial justification, as well as a successful rollout and marketing campaign.  So tools that allow engagement with a wider range of customers and prospects provide the raw input for the most important decisions faced by an organization.

What do you feel is the most important component of a successful marketing gig?

I am bordering on repeating myself here, but marketers can bring to market a wide range of situations, and developers can build a wide range of products.  Marketer need to identify what is needed–what to sell, and what to build–is ultimately the determining factor of a good gig.

How have you seen organizations change in the last 3-5 years to better support the needs of product marketers, product managers and communications teams?
I’m a big proponent of agile development, because I see agile as a response by development teams to the reality that it’s extremely difficult to craft a winning solution out of nothing.  Building things iteratively, and proactively obtaining feedback on each iteration, gives marketers the opportunity to change course well before the die is cast.  This works best, naturally, when marketers actually bring in end users to see the product throughout the process.

If you could design the perfect corporate environment for a marketer to be successful what would that be?

Companies benefit when they provide the freedom and resources to allow innovation; over-emphasis of delivery dates to the detriment of building game-changing products leads to efficient followers.  Further, companies whose leadership can unite disparate divisions around a unified purpose have an advantage over those whose leadership can’t.  Product managers can’t necessarily create the former, but those who can provide a vision to help unify the company can improve the 2nd metric.

How far is this from reality?

Some large companies like Google dedicate resources to innovation and to pet projects, and others like Apple force themselves through many design concepts before picking the final one.  Obviously exceptional companies, they illustrate ways to institutionalize the innovation that so many of us want.

So what’s next?

Product management is evolving and maturing as a discipline, which is helping illustrate to companies the clarity of vision that should exist for products brought to market.  Product managers should strive to establish a minimum set of deliverables that can clearly convey the essence of a product, and should strive to ensure they can complete it convincingly before delivering a product to market.  As just one example, last year I proposed a standard set of documentation that covers the problem(s) solved, buyers, users, value proposition, and the proposed workflow(s).  My example is probably a bit heavy on the workflow side for a true agile implementation, but by going through a similar exercise in concept validation, a product manager can make the life of the marketer and the product marketer much much easier.


Twitter: johnpeltier


Thanks for taking the time to provide your feedback on where you see marketing today John!

Betamax Wins! An interview with Jim Foxworthy

Are you new around here?  Spatially Relevant, not only is about sharing the things we find from cool people, but also sharing/identifying trends in marketing, branding and how product managers can change a business with technology, such as social media.  Stick around and add the rss feed to your reader or follow on twitter.  Now on to the article.

Ok, so those of you around long enough know this isn’t the case with Betamax and we are now all upgrading to that blue thing, but the important part is Beta.    If you have been around product management long enough you know that processes and methodologies come and go, but best practices stay the same.  In technology one of the perennial milestones is going Beta.  While a technical feedback loop, it more so a market feedback loop.   It’s this step in any process where most of us get just a little nervous with the launch process, but hopefully not if you had launch in your mind since concept.  So like most product managers, my technical background and experience historically saw the close of beta and launch as milestones, rather than an ongoing process which started with the market requirements.

After leveraging the folks at Pragmatic Marketing to understand best practices in product management for almost a decade, I’ve come to see launch as an integrated process which parallels most of the development.   So I was glad to hear they were adding dedicated course on launch to the training catalog and was SUPER excited to participate in the beta.

Yup, Pragmatic Marketing is launching a new course on Launch Essentials and I had the opportunity to beta it onsite with the whole team – Product Owners, Technical PM’s, MARCOM and Product Marketing.   During the day I was impressed not just by the content, but the beta engagement process.  By being part of the process I was able to learn new things and share feedback with the instructor, David Daniels, and Graham  Joyce which is the goal of any beta, but the structure and measurement of the feedback is integrated into the process real time for the Pragmatic team.   Just as with any beta process, the team was looking to ensure as they launched a “product” to market it which actually meets the needs of their target market.   During the 1 day workshop we addressed the typical problems/pitfalls in launching a technology product to market profitably and the team challenged the pragmatic folks on how to ensure our Agile processes and launch methodologies were synched from concept to launch.

So with a little extra access to the team, I decided to see if I could ask some questions of Jim Foxworthy, the VP of Product Marketing at Pragmatic Marketing and Jim was kind enough to participate, as you can see by the title of the post.    The goal of the interview below is to get some insights on their beta process and the types of folks they have in their business.    I have similar interviews of two other pragmatic folks (David Daniels & Steve Johnson) to read which validate the varied backgrounds and common view of successful product managers which are echoed below by Jim’s answers.

Many thanks to Jim and best of luck to the team on the launch of the new course, with the standardize beta process, measurement and market engagement I’m confident it will be a success!

Q. What Roles have you had in the industry prior to joining Pragmatic Marketing?

I started in technology in 1975, so the ‘roles’ list would be a bit boring and long! But suffice to say that I worked in IT shops until 1983 doing operations and some development, then independent vendors until 2001, then joined Pragmatic Marketing as an instructor. During my years with vendors, I did customer support, client training, sales, and product management.

By the way, not that you asked, but while carrying a sales quota was not the easiest gig for me, the experience paid big dividends. On occasion we get a laugh at the expense of our sales brethren, but knowing what it takes to close business made me a much more effective product manager.

In 2002, while continuing to teach for Pragmatic Marketing, I started a consulting practice focused exclusively on implementation of the Pragmatic Marketing Framework. Over the following five years I worked on nearly 100 implementations.

Q. As you were with the other companies did you use the framework in other roles?

I was a student the first time Pragmatic Marketing offered the “Practical Product Management” seminar in 1993. I had both successful and unsuccessful implementations of the Pragmatic Marketing Framework between 1993 and 2001. I prefer to think of my mistakes as ‘opportunities to learn’, but some of them were unpleasant!

Q. I recently participated in a Beta process with you and the team and it appears that you not only eat your own dog food, but have a tightly defined beta program, expectations of the participants and adjusting the product in response.  How is this different than you have worked beta programs previously?

Thanks for the compliment! Being the product manager here at Pragmatic Marketing doesn’t give me much latitude to ‘stray’ from what we teach. The other instructors are NOT shy when I do (smile)!

In many ways our Beta process is not that different from programs I have run in the past. Our ‘product’ is our seminar, and the source code is in (believe it or not!) MS-PowerPoint. So, when the ‘code’ begins to look pretty close to the requirements and the positioning (we do those, too) then we know it is time to get some market validation. Beta testing gives us that, plus one more thing that we cannot duplicate in the ‘development lab’ — real teaching time. There are some things about the delivery of seminars that you can -only- learn on your feet, working with a live audience.

Q. How are the emerging development agile methodologies impacting the framework or the way PM’s need to look at the market?

Agile development methodologies are having a big impact on product managers! New artifacts and job titles are emerging that can be confusing, and there is an enormous about of pressure to spend more and more time with development. Yet the need to discover and validate market problems has NOT changed. Pragmatic Marketing recently launched a new seminar titled, “Living in an Agile World” to address these very issues. (If I had my go-to-market hat on, then I would write) For more information, please go to