Browsing Tag


Pricing Your App: Know the Trends for Apple, Android, RIM and Others

Pricing for your market is always a challenge.  Wouldn’t it be helpful if you could market data about the platforms, segments and competitors before you determined your price?  Here is a presentation which appears to do just that for the mobile application market.

Other Pricing Resources:


Music Can Change the World and Marketing: An Innovation Story

So not only do we look at lessons we learn from markets we server as marketers, we need to examine how we can do things differently and change a market based on insights and analysis of other market segments. Sometimes we need to look at our markets and look at how we might apply business models and approaches which haven’t been done before and sometime we need to starts with the history, evolution and current landscape to get full context on where innovation opportunities may exist.

Since this is a music post and maybe because it’s Friday or because I’m on my way to Austin this weekend, here’s a video to close the week as we think about looking at our markets from the cradle to where we are today.

6 Approaches to market research without an analyst budget

Market research is tough stuff and the availability of data online sometimes makes it tough to sift through all the data. Due to the massive amount of data out there, many marketers rely on analyst for synthesizing marketing data and providing the lion share of data used in research projects.  While this approach can be helpful if you have a subscription, most of us need more context than high level numbers from an analyst firm to baseline our understanding of a market.   It’s not that the analysts are off, they all have their own take on the market.  Often analyst market definitions, approach to the market/research agenda and research methodologies make it very difficult to understand how it REALLY relates to your market.

To help improve your market intelligence there are 6 approaches you can leverage from online resources to round out your understanding of markets and help dig through the clutter of information available online.

1. Monitor Analyst Press Releases

Even if you have a subscription to an analyst firm, I still find the press release very interesting since it often provides the key metrics and conclusions you are to take away from a report or piece of research.  Kinda like “Cliff Notes for Analysts”.    Best of all this information doesn’t require subscription fees.  For example, here is a release on mobiles impact on semiconductors from Gartner:

Gartner analysts stated that application-specific semiconductors for the phone market are experiencing intense competitive pressure, with revenue growing only about 13 percent in 2010. Smartphones continue to drive the mobile phone semiconductor market, representing 18 percent of units and 36 percent of overall 2010 mobile phone semiconductor revenue. These percentages increase to 41 percent of units and 64 percent of mobile phone semiconductor revenue by 2014 as entry-level smartphones trigger a second wave of growth in the market.

Once such a release it put online, it not only helps you with direct information, but can point you in other directions once the pundits start adding their take into the mix.

2. Search Online Presentation Repositories

There are numerous places to look (slideshare, scribd, event websites…) where you might be able to find relevant information for your market.  To stay with mobile market information, there are over 700 slides from Morgan Stanley’s Mary Meeker alone: 2010 Internet TrendsiPad Game Changer and Mobile Internet Trends

These repositories are also another way to gain access to research from analyst as well.  Just about every analyst firm has data available for you which can help you research you markets without a subscription.  Some of the research is placed out there directly by the analyst firms, such as  Frost & Sullivan’s slideshare presentations on healthcare, aerospace, energy and automotive, while others are posted by event organizers, customers or the analyst themselves.

2. Use Google Advanced Search to find hidden content

Not all content is easy to find or was put online for mass consumption.  Maybe a presentation was for a customer conference, webinar or other specific purpose and is hosted directly on a web site rather being put in a repository.  Google Advanced Search can help out with that by allowing you to specific file types online or even constrain to a given URL/website for returns.  Here is an example of looking only for Microsoft Powerpoint Presentations:

You may need to goof around with search terms, but you can find some really insightful market data this way.  You can also find cool competitive data that way as well.  You wouldn’t believe what people put online in ppt and excel.

4. Dig into Public Filings and Financial Reports

One way to build an understanding of the state of your market is a bottom’s up approach to a market is to use public filings and information created for investors.   It requires the most amount of legwork and probably some work in excel, but all good market research has some Excel and PowerPoint involved.

Basically you just take the information on your public competitors, your company and your private competitors to build up a market.   Private competitors are tougher, but you should know the relative size of your other competitors which aren’t public and using the advance search on Google can unearth some interesting financial data if you don’t have a D&B account.

There are multiple ways to work public information, the purist would recommend pouring through 10-K’s since there are often interesting market dynamics which are cited for a given company’s performance in the narrative, but you just look at their website too.  The investor and media relations part of public companies’ websites often house investor presentation slides, recordings of earnings calls and general financial release information as required.

Public information is just chock full of surprises and actionable information, even the glossy annual reports.   By reviewing your competitor’s Annual Reports you can get additional market context.

What kind of information can you get?  For example you can often get a nice geographic breakdown of revenues and other relevant information around services, software and other revenue splits, at least for your competitors.     SAP provides an example set of such insights into mobile, what they see as growth segments and key geographies moving forward in their 2009 results presentation.   If you get enough common slices of data from your competitors’ public filings and your own internal information, you can then start extrapolating it into the market at large.

5. Follow the Sources

Analyst blogs, competitor blogs, investor blogs and even your customer’s blogs may provide insightful information on your market and the trends as they blog about relevant trends and research they are seeing.   While it might be obvious that blogs are important, there is one thing which it’s often overlooked by many – their sources.

Yup, it’s not necessarily the direct article that is most valuable, it might just be the sources which are linked which can help you the most.  For example, Steve Keifer’s piece on Healthcare Information Exchanges provides interesting analysis, but links to the original source data which provides even more information.

Here are some other examples of interesting market insights from bloggers:

6. Let Pictures Provide the Meaning

The emergence of readily available Infographics onlie is just one of the coolest thing for marketers doing research.   What’s interesting about infographics is that typically an infographic is a context based view of a market.   Ok, it’s not new, but there are more and more of these being created now it seems and they provide fairly specific context typically.

The context provided in Infographics can help with understanding scale and provide clarity which is sometimes hard to do in the written word. For example, again in the mobile market, here is view into multiple dimensions of the market in a single infographic (scale, relevance, usage and geo-markets):

(you can click on it to blow it up)

Your Market Information is Out There

Net-Net, the data is out there for your markets.  The challenge for all of us is how to do the leg work to apply it to your specific market, product and brand.

Analysts are just the start of the market research process for brand managers, product managers and market planners.

Why I’d fail a Google interview and be glad I did

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Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

So the Seattle interview coach‘s insights on the Google interview process is fairly interesting and made me think about how I might handle these alleged actual interview questions.  While I’m not sure these are real questions, it’s worth a little fun.

Google’s hiring process has been talked about online by many folks and the experience of being a member of Team Google is varied from a great freakin thing to just a bad experience.   While the interview below is fiction, I did have a strange call with Google HR myself in 2005 which I only remember as odd.

So in the spirit of trying to think how I might have actually done with some of the questions which could be thrown around during a product management interview at Google, this is my take on being interviewed by 3 folks at Google.

Interviewer 1: Why do you want to join Google?

Well, I’m not quite sure I do want to join Google, but you have to take the interview right?  I mean you have the most interesting data set which would be cool to analyze in context of a given product or market.  Y’all got everything on everything, B2B, B2C, B2G AND random life insights.  I just think it would be exciting to look at the nuances in your data and see what I could do with it.

Interviewer 2: What do you know about Google’s product and technology?

I suspect you would like a little more than it’s cool, right?  To that end, I guess I would want to put a little more of a boundary around it, since your product portfolio is so diverse.  As a user of search, gmail and one of the lucky people to get a Wave invite early, I guess I would say that your technology is more about changing the world than anything else.

Change the way people view search, change the way they manage thier email and change the way they collaborate. I guess if you put it that way, it’s a little creepy but I’m ok with hegemony – I mean someone has to do it.

Interviewer 1: If you are Product Manager for Google’s AdWords, how do you plan to market this?

I probably wouldn’t use AdWords, it would be just a little too cliche and dali-esque.  Really good question though, but I’m confident I wouldn’t want a recursive loop product management gig.  How about we talk Postini? Google Earth? Something I have an interest in.

Interviewer 3: How would you re-position Google’s offerings to counteract competitive threats from Microsoft?

ME: BING! I was wondering how long it would take until Microsoft came up.  Do you really think Microsoft is the biggest competitor? The Amazon cloud? Apple?

Well if you insist it is MSFT, then I would probably put it this way: While my parents like the pretty pictures on Bing and to search on their health conditions because they are more of a hypochondriac in their 70’s than most, I’m not convinced this is your target market.  Is it?  Do you want to own the geriatric segment? I mean patience is a virtue, we all get old some day.

Well, I guess then it is just pure brute force brand spend if you are concerned about Redmond that much.  I would also consider enhancing your MSFT related search terms with mainly negative marketing information and propaganda.  Or you could encourage each of the Google fanboy’s on the planet to purchase one share of MSFT stock so they could more actively participate in harassing Ballmer at Microsoft quarterly and annual shareholder meetings.

Interviewer 2: You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and your mass is proportionally reduced so as to maintain your original density. You are then thrown into an empty glass blender. The blades will start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do?

I’d wait for a while and see what happens.  The funny thing about quantum physics/mechanics is it is all about the observer.  I really like the original density piece, it adds to the panic level of the interviewer and avoids the “F#$k it, I’m as dense as a diamond, bring it on blender!” option.

Interviewer 3: How many golf balls can fit in a school bus?

It depends is the easy answer, because ya need to know if it is a short bus, school bus, a metro, tourist bus or crazy Guatemalan chicken bus.  But to be definitive with a number, 176,400.  The beauty of Google Voice Search on the iPhone is that you can look up stupid trivia in milliseconds and do massive calculations on the fly.  Since you’ve already created the technology to handle these types of questions I am not sure I’d hire a product manager who was proud that he could work all of this out in his head.

Interviewer 1: So how would you explain a database in three sentences to your eight-year-old nephew?

Wow, what a coinkidink! I actually did this for my 4 year old just the other day when I was working at home doing some massive inner and outer joins on a some customer data I had.  I told Prescott “databases are just a way to manage large data sets and establish relationships.  It is important to know that even though a relationship exists it doesn’t really mean anything.  Kind of like when you tried to convince me the guy in the giant chicken suit at the fair was the brother of that killer chicken kebab we just ate.  Just remember this – correlation doesn’t mean causation and you should be able to avoid a bunch of pitfalls in life”

Interviewer 3:  How much should you charge to wash all the windows in Seattle?

What is the time line to completion? Is it a long term contract or a one time gig? What kind of sign off process is involved?  It’s hard to answer if you don’t know the service level expectations.  In theory, I could wait until the next rain and invoice everyone.

While I like the last option, invoice for nothing in the spirit of governmental largess, I think $0 is what I should charge because we shouldn’t be washing windows at all.  I hearken back to the Google motto of “Do No Evil.”  Window washing is a waste of money, damages the environment, and exploits vulnerable workers.  666 window washers have fallen to their deaths in the past six years.  Google should be at the forefront of the window washer-less office movement.

Interviewer 3: You have to get from point A to point B. You don’t know if you can get there. What would you do?

Are you high?  Draw a straight line, duh.  First the golf ball question, now this theoretical spatial dilemma with no reference points other than the before-mentioned A and B.

Interviewer 2: Four people need to cross a rickety rope bridge to get back to their camp at night. Unfortunately, they only have one flashlight and it only has enough light left for seventeen minutes. The bridge is too dangerous to cross without a flashlight, and it’s only strong enough to support two people at any given time. Each of the campers walks at a different speed. One can cross the bridge in 1 minute, another in 2 minutes, the third in 5 minutes, and the slow poke takes 10 minutes to cross. How do the campers make it across in 17 minutes?

Can you repeat the first thing again? The Doritos the other guy was eating to stave off the munchies attack got in the way of me hearing the question.

Interviewer 1: There’s a latency problem in South Africa. Diagnose it.

Can you say business class to Cape Town, a command line, packet loss metrics and a bunch of trace route data?

Interviewer 2: What are three long term challenges facing Google?

Only 3?  I mean there are 3 in this room.

Thanks for sharing a little fun with the fictitious interview leveraging the questions available online of things which just might be asked in a Google interview, maybe.

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