Posted by Tim Jackson:
As a Product Manager trying to rebuild a brand and increase the product offerings, it can be very hard to get feedback in a timely fashion to support your ideas or correct the mistakes in your thinking before it costs you a lot of money. Unless you are blogging that is.
With my brand, for example, there are a lot of things I have been trying to do and new products I have been wanting to add and/or refine. I could spend thousands of dollars to work with a Consultant to evaluate things and it would take months to do. Well, seeing as to how I don't have the money or the time for that process, my blog has proven to be a valuable tool in what I am trying to do.
Currently, my blog is working to help with the development of a line of bikes designed for women. Not only am I using the blog for this, by asking the question directly of my readers and by utilizing one of the many free poll hosts, but I have also gone to one of the many women's discussion forums and posed the question there as well. I intend to go after more feedback, but the return on the investment of time has already proven invaluable to my efforts.
Previously, I posed a question about carbon fiber bikes and got great feedback from that one too. It was so easy too; post the question, create the online poll and let it go. I was getting answers all day every day. I can easily see using this type of interactive development for many, if not all, projects.
Will all this feedback translate directly to
change or new products? In many cases I believe that it will. If
nothing else, it helps to steer the conversation better, internally, so
that the right questions are being asked as we go forward with our
development plans. I could think I have a great idea and then find out
that nobody agrees. In all likelihood, if I really believe in the idea,
I will pursue it further, but I'll have the feedback from people
heavily involved in what I decide to do.
As Product Managers, we sometimes have to let go of our egos and listen to what our customers think- both retailers and consumers. The blog gets the attention of both markets. And I don't have to spend a dime that would otherwise go towards marketing a new product to do the research. To paraphrase on the cheeseball quote from the movies ("Build it and they will come")- Ask it and they will answer.