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what creativity should be…

5 Dec

Read a very interesting anecdote in one of the leading newspapers today which got me cracking .

Let’s see the anecdote first:
Back in the 1960’s American space agency NASA was faced with a major dilemma. Astronauts needed a pen that would write in the vacuum of space. NASA got cracking into developing the $1.5 million gravity-immune “astronaut pen”. At the same time, the Russians too were faced with same dilemma. However, they used a pencil instead! The lesson is a valid one. Anyone can have a creative idea, but if it comes at the cost of simplicity and common sense, it probably isn’t as creative as it seems.
Fantastic, isn’t it? The anecdote got my juices up and running first thing, early morning.

I don’t care if you are a product manager (like me) , advertiser, brand marketer, sales head or just about any of those fancy titles you hold (there are dime a dozen available in the English Lang lexicon thickets) in your current job. Let us get the idea straight to our head point blank. If u have a product out there in the market or an idea churning in your head which you want to put in play, always (I cannot say enough of this one)… always put your customer first. Your customer can be from any vertical or any parameter but things are beautiful when they are simple, straight and easy to understand. If you don’t have that, you have lost the war (not just the battle) in the game.
Any product you launch in the market should have these elements in place:

  • Great UI : retailer can call this visual merchandising.
  • Easy navigation : your customer should be able to use your product without checking the user manual continuously.
  • Relevant content: you better get your target defined or else, as the old adage goes, if you don’t know where you are going any road will take you there. So, identity your audience, define him, and then deliver what he needs (exactly what he needs to see, read, hear) . The brand has to penetrate him in all the six senses he has. So, your content should be topnotch.
  • Easy accessibility (what you call customer service): your customer should know how to reach you and he should be able to do that fast. Call it support team, feedback team, customer backup, client servicing etc… The point is simple- keep your customer happy and satisfied and he will bring you more.

This is not an all inclusive list but these are the basic points you need to cover . feel free to drop in your points, ideas and opinions here!

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Facebook Becon – privacy issue- Product Managers take note

1 Dec

Going by The Hindu’s op-ed report (a New York Times news extract), Facebook seems to have been caught in the wrong foot with its new hyper-targeting ad system called Facebook Beacon. A Beacon is nothing but a mini-feed which lets you see your friend’s online buying activities.

Let me give u an example: lets say you buy a book from a particular book shop owner, who happens to be an advertiser teamed up with facebook. Facebook watches your action and puts it up in your news feed section announcing to your friends that you have bought an “x” book from “abc” bookshop owner. It is like you are endorsing this advertiser when you are buying this “x” book from him and giving an assurance to your friends saying that you can trust the advertisers to buy books from him in the future. This is an extension of user generated advertisement and believe me, this is a quiet a powerful way to advertise and reach your customers.

This concept is called online tracking & advertising, a popular method wherein the service providers keeps track of where users are going, and send ads according to their interests , thereby making it more relevant and interactive . Companies like Microsoft, Myspace or Google do it all the time; the only thing is we don’t notice it at all.

What facebook is trying to do is, instead of tracking user’s actions and sending ads behind the scenes like the other companies do, they are being more transparent about it and sending it as mini-feeds.

But the problem brewed up, when around 50,000 registered members dint like it when facebook started telling their friends what they are buying and from whom they are buying it. This they considered as a breach of their privacy. So when Moveon.org took up this issue, these 50,000 users went ahead and singed up to show their dissent.

For Mark Zuckerberg (23), Beacon is going to be an interesting and important issue to deal with. Facebook was started, during his Harvard University days studying for his under graduation degree, to help students inside the campus (with a valid university mail id) to stay in touch with each other. Today, facebook has grown into a 35 million strong community and surely becoming a fierce rival for MySapce which has over 50 million users, not to mention Bebo.

Beacon will be used to turn this service into a profit making machine and testimonial to this is the fact that Microsoft recently took up a stake by paying 240 million dollar , which means Facebook is valued at 15 billion $ .But i personally think the whole release process and the way it was released was wrong from a “product release” point of view.

As a rookie product manager for mklix.com, I would be keeping an eye on what Mark is going to do next(or what he says) and how he is plans to execute the Beacon program. I will let you know some of the product management aspects on this issue in my next post.

See you soon…