31 / How To Get The Positioning Right


In tech, as in life, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. That might be one of the coolest aspects about building super-exciting software products. There’s any number of ways to get the job done. As product people, we lend our education, our experience, and our intuition to improving people’s lives. Our varied life circumstances inform both our efforts and the many potential means by which we pursue success.

For April Dunford, who joins Sean and Paul in this episode of the Product Momentum Podcast, getting your Positioning right is the straw that stirs the drink. “Positioning is foundational to everything that follows,” April confidently points out. “It essentially defines how your product is uniquely qualified to be a leader at something that a well-defined set of customers cares a lot about.”

April isn’t shy in proclaiming the mission-critical role that Positioning plays in product success. Nor is she bashful in calling out product-market fit as “a myth” (and making an interesting case in the process).

Listen in to catch April’s thoughts on those topics, as well as the following:

[02:20]  Product managers & product marketers. We’re sort of becoming hip. We’re cool now.

[04:27]  Positioning is foundational. In fact, it’s so foundational that we either think it’s already been done…or that we can’t do anything about it anyway.

[06:32]  Positioning. What it is; what it isn’t.

[09:16]  Good-fit customers. You want a pipeline of those.

[09:38]  Bad-fit customers. Cull the herd.

[13:13] Good fit means “good for the customer and good for the business.”

[13:50]  Segmentation. So much more than demographics and firmographics.

[15:51]  Actionable Customer Segmentation. Catch how April’s discovery process leads to actionable customer segmentation.

[19:45]  Product-market fit. “I do have a bit of hate on for product-market fit.”

[26:10]  Product-market fit part deux. “It’s baloney. It’s not a thing.”

[27:32]  Magic marketing moment. When everything feels easy. Like you’re running down hill.

[30:01]  (product + category) x Trend. Trends are accelerants to positioning. They make your stuff seem sexier.

[31:04]  Trends part deux. The trend answers the question, “Why now?”.

[32:49]  In competition with the status quo. Doing nothing is always an option for customers.

[34:00]  Positioning: investors vs. customers. Why the pitch is so different. (hint: it’s about value)

[36:39]  Innovation. There’s lots of ways to be innovative outside of the technology.

[38:23]  Acquisition features and retention features. One to set the hook, the other to make sure it stays there.

[43:23]  Positioning as a superpower. It can change the way both your team and the world think about the problems you solve, your technology, or even your entire market.


April’s Recommended Reading

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended on It, by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz.

Obviously Awesome: How to Nail Product Positioning So That Customers Get It, Buy It, Love It, by April Dunford.

About April

April Dunford is a consultant, author, speaker, and globally recognized expert in Positioning. She helps technology companies make complicated products easy for customers to understand and love. Previously, April has run marketing, product, and sales teams at a series of successful technology startups and has launched 16 products into market. She is also a board member, investor, and advisor to dozens of high-growth businesses and is the author of the best-selling book Obviously Awesome: How to Nail Product Positioning so Customers Get it, Buy it, Love it.


30 / Essential Components of Product Culture


Before we jump headlong into implementing Lean or Agile. Before we decide that OKRs offer the best chance to set goals and measure results. And before we determine that a particular design methodology will lead us to successful product development, product leaders need to understand the “underlying cultural things about teams and about companies that need to be addressed first.

“You’ve got to get straight the ‘why are we here?’ questions,” says Bruce McCarthy, who joined Sean and Paul in this episode of the Product Momentum Podcast. According to Bruce, the founder of Product Culture and author of the book, Product Roadmaps Relaunched, we cannot meet our lofty goals – let alone the aspirational ones – without first embracing the cultural aspects that explain our place in the world.

What problems are we solving? Why, and for whom? How will we work together to achieve our objectives? What is our mission – our purpose in the world?

When we focus on these questions, we begin to understand the intersection of product culture and product management. In many ways the two overlap, Bruce explains.

Product management is “a role, a discipline, and a set of tools and responsibilities.” Product culture, on the other hand, is less tangible. It gives valuable insight about how product managers prioritize resource allocation, formulate decisions, and deliver value for their customers.

In many ways, good product culture is a “we know it when we see it” sort of thing. What’s most enlightening is the way Bruce brings to life an organization’s culture through the eyes of the customer.

Product culture has a Vision that empowers the customer, a Plan that delivers value in incremental steps along the path to vision fulfillment, and an outcome-based effort by a diverse Team aligned around that common vision.

Tune in to hear more from Bruce, including:

[02:01] Product Culture talks about those cultural aspects of why we’re here, how we work together, how we think about the purpose of going to work every day that’s mostly on my mind.

[03:49] Product management and product culture. Considerable overlap, but significant differences.

[03:49] Three elements of product culture: vision, plan, team.

[06:45] “Things are impossible until they’re not.” It’s the history of Innovation.

[07:52] Innovation is not about changing technology. It’s about our perception of what’s possible.

[10:33] Have you heard the story of General Magic?

[13:29] Product as vehicle. Radhika Dutt: “A product is a vehicle for making change in the world.”

[14:01] What killed Blackberry? They forgot, or never realized, that they were a status symbol.

[15:15] Product success and the Venn diagram. When feasible and viable come into overlap.

[15:59] The product manager’s role in roadmapping. Speak vision into the roadmap.

[17:30] The right feature? It depends on what problem you’re trying to solve.

[21:20] Outcome teams. The 4th level of product teams.

[24:49] The nature of software development. Building one-offs for the first time, every time.

[28:04] Prioritization. Why it’s the fundamental skill of the product manager.

[32:34] Tactics for up-and-coming PMs. Agree, prioritize, align, repeat.

[37:40] Imagination. The ability to envision something that does not yet exist.

[40:31] Innovation. Feasible, viable, badass.

Bruce’s Recommended Reading:

Team Objectives – Overview, by Marty Cagan. Silicon Valley Product Group. February 24, 2020.

Off to Be the Wizard, by Scott Meyer.

Product Roadmaps Relaunched: How to Set Direction while Embracing Uncertainty, by C. Todd Lombardo, Bruce McCarthy, Evan Ryan, and Michael Connors.

About Bruce

Bruce McCarthy helps growing organizations achieve their product visions through workshops, coaching, and speaking at events around the world. Bruce co-wrote Product Roadmaps Relaunched: How to Set Direction while Embracing Uncertainty and opines regularly about Product Culture.

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