Product Thinking

Melissa Perri

Successful product management isn’t just about training the product managers who work side by side with developers everyday to build better products. It’s about taking a step back, approaching the systems within organizations as a whole, and leveling up product leadership to improve these systems. This is the Product Thinking Podcast, where Melissa Perri will connect with industry leading experts in the product management space, AND answer your most pressing questions about everything product. Join us each week to level up your skillset and invest in yourself as a product leader. read less

Demystifying Pricing Strategy with Patrick Campbell
5d ago
Demystifying Pricing Strategy with Patrick Campbell
Welcome to another episode of the Product Thinking podcast. This week, host Melissa Perri is joined by Patrick Campbell, CEO of Profitwell. They discuss all things pricing, diving deep into the psychology behind pricing models and how to choose a pricing strategy. Patrick talks about the biggest mistakes businesses make when pricing, when and how often you should be raising your prices, how to align your price changes with your value metrics and communicate those changes to customers, and more.  You’ll hear Melissa and Patrick talk about: Patrick's team developed a financial analytics product and decided to give it away for free in order to get more data and improve their algorithms. 37,000 companies have used it in the past seven years. Patrick's company was acquired by Paddle for $200 million in May 2022, with a mission to grow subscription companies automatically. Pricing is a core competency for a business and should not be treated as a quick task to be done and moved on from. It is the very essence of a business as it represents the value of a product or service and how it is perceived by customers. Businesses should experiment with monetization once per quarter and raise prices once per year. Raising prices too often can lead to customer churn. However, this eventually normalizes as ‘fence-sitting’ customers leave. Make sure your price increase is justified by the value you provide to the customer. Align your pricing with a value metric, such as revenue. Packaging and pricing go hand in hand and can be thought of in terms of charging different prices for different pieces of value of the product. Sustaining a social media platform like Twitter is difficult, and it can be hard to monetize. Adobe's move from selling Photoshop for $1,000 to a subscription model of $32 a month was an "eye-opening" change that allowed for more investment in the product. It's important to get the finance team aligned with the move to a subscription model, as costs will initially go up and revenue will initially go down. Pricing is a whole company problem, not just a product problem. Resources Patrick Campbell Website | Email | LinkedIn ProfitWell
Answering Questions About Tech Vs Business, Level of Detail for Engineers, and When to Join a Startup
Jan 25 2023
Answering Questions About Tech Vs Business, Level of Detail for Engineers, and When to Join a Startup
In this Dear Melissa segment, Melissa answers subscribers’ questions about whether or not adding a business owner into a product team is the right call, how much detail product managers should provide to their engineering teams, and if there’s a right time to join a startup as a product manager.  Q: I've been asked to include a business owner from outside technology in the teams. I'm worried that this will slow decision making and reduce our time to market. How should I tackle this? A: Unfortunately, this happens a lot, especially in large traditional companies and ones that are going through transformations. They've got this old mentality of the tech team being separate and responsible for infrastructure, and the business side doing the “real work.” Here’s how I would handle this issue. Q: What do you think is a realistic level of detail for a PM to provide their engineering team?  A: It’s all about balance. There needs to be a balance between how much information you need and what your cultural capacity is to meet the expectations of the information provided. Listen in to find out how to achieve that balance. Q: Is there a good timing for joining a startup? A: This company clearly didn't know what they wanted out of a head of product. It sounded like they may have wanted a lackey, somebody to do the lower-level stuff. There is a point in a startup where it is too early for a Head of Product. Tune in to learn why. Resources Melissa Perri on LinkedIn | Twitter MelissaPerri.com | CPO Accelerator
Positioning Your Product with April Dunford
Jan 11 2023
Positioning Your Product with April Dunford
In this week’s episode, Melissa Perri invites April Dunford, author of the best-selling book Obviously Awesome, How to Nail Product Positioning so Customers Get It, Buy It, Love It on the podcast. April has 25 years of experience leading marketing, product, and sales teams and now runs her consulting firm, helping companies of all shapes and sizes, including Google, IBM, Postman, and Epic Games, nail their positioning.  Here are some key points April and Melissa talk about: April talks about her academic and professional background and what led her to write her book on product positioning, Obviously Awesome. According to April, product positioning is how your product is the best in the world at delivering some value that a well-defined set of target customers cares about. “Positioning is really about taking a customer that doesn't know too much about our [product] and orienting them towards it,” she tells Melissa. April describes an example of good positioning that a company can execute and how to assess if your product’s positioning is weak or strong. One of the key concepts in product positioning is looking at your product from the perspective of the consumer to determine what makes your product unique. It is best to build your product according to a positioning thesis based on information about your competitors and consumers. However, the thesis is usually wrong, so use your initial launch to improve it. The essence of product marketing is product positioning. Producing positioning can only succeed when the market managers work harmoniously with the product managers and sales team, to truly understand the products' place in the market. If we don't have an actionable segmentation, it doesn't matter if we have product market fit.  April shares her expertise on what product teams and marketing teams should be doing to truly understand and leverage their product positioning. Resources April Dunford on the web | Twitter
Examining Product-Led Growth with Ezinne Udezue
Dec 21 2022
Examining Product-Led Growth with Ezinne Udezue
Melissa Perri welcomes Ezinne Udezue to this episode of the Product Thinking Podcast. Ezinne is the CPO of WP Engine, a platform that provides solutions to create marketable sites and apps on WordPress, as well as the author of Product Management for Product-Led Growth, coming 2023. Melissa asks Ezinne what she thinks the key is to being a successful product leader, Ezinne shares her definition of product-led growth, and they discuss how product-led growth applies to B2B and Enterprise products, core PLG tactics, what PMs need to understand about marketing and how product collaborates with marketing and sales in a PLG company, and much more.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Ezinne explore: Her journey into product leadership. Product leaders are measured on impact, so they should be someone that people look up to. "It comes down to having a method…a way one thinks about product,"  Ezinne says. A key part of becoming a successful product manager is being able to explain your product to people in a way they can understand.  "You're combining all those signals and setting context and creating options, your ideas backlog, your product backlog, and then you're making a choice. That to me is what product strategy is," Ezinne tells Melissa.  Ezinne lists skills and attributes companies and product managers need to hone for successful product growth. Word of mouth marketing is an important component of product-led growth. People are more likely to come to you if you offer fast and efficient solutions to their problems.   With a product-led growth strategy, sales and marketing are able to focus on upselling instead of bombarding customers. They can focus on individuals who are already interested in the product. The first step to product-led growth is mapping out the customer journey. Identify market segments to attack and generate value. Since there are so many new companies emerging every day, acquiring a customer is difficult. Ezinne stresses being very intentional, and being creative about virality. Resources Ezinne Udezue | LinkedIn WP Engine
Mapping Out Now, Next, and Later with Janna Bastow
Dec 7 2022
Mapping Out Now, Next, and Later with Janna Bastow
Melissa Perri welcomes Janna Bastow to this episode of the Product Thinking Podcast. Janna is the founder of Mind the Product and the CEO and founder of ProdPad, which is software that helps manage your roadmap and product backlog. Janna and Melissa discuss the story of how ProdPad came to be and why Janna was inspired to build a more robust road mapping tool, how to become the most informed PM in your industry, the process behind creating the Now, Next, Later roadmap format and why it’s caught on, how to communicate with other teams both before and after you create your roadmap, and how to influence your leadership to evolve their processes and thinking around road mapping.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Janna talk about: Janna shares how ProdPad came to fruition. “Some of the immediate problems were the fact that we have to ask the same questions over and over again: Why are we doing this thing, what is this thing we're doing? What problem does it solve?”  Janna has always taken a collaborative approach to product management. She knows she doesn’t have all the answers, so she views her job as asking questions and using the knowledge of the people around her. When done right, product management is the most fun area of business. You get to play with different ideas, interact with different areas, and make decisions about what gets made. The Now-Next-Later roadmap focuses on prioritizing the most urgent tasks, identifying what needs to be done, and providing a framework for the scale of certain tasks, emphasizing sequence rather than time.  Many product managers prefer roadmaps in the style of Now-Next-Later because it doesn’t communicate time at all. They don’t want to be beholden to time estimations in anticipation of over-committing or not hitting deadlines. ProdPad is a mix of a coach and a SaaS tool designed to help you become a better product manager. It gives you a few key views in a non-exploitative format that allows you to view the order in which you are going to solve problems. One of the key things product managers can do to convince their leaders to adopt the Now-Next-Later roadmap is to speak their language; try to gain clarity on the core of their resistance. Resources Janna Bastow on the Web | LinkedIn | Twitter  ProdPad | Twitter
Leading with Vision and Purpose with Ken Norton
Nov 23 2022
Leading with Vision and Purpose with Ken Norton
Ken Norton is Melissa Perri’s guest on this episode of the Product Thinking Podcast. Ken is an executive coach who is passionate about “whole person” coaching– he works with product leaders not just on their careers but on their growth and development in all facets of their lives.  Ken joins Melissa to discuss the evolution of product management, the stark difference between empowered and unempowered product teams, his biggest piece of advice to early career PMs, what great leadership looks like, his 14 years of experience working at Google and on products like Google Maps and Google Calendar, and why ultimately, product is all about people.  Here are some key points Ken and Melissa talk about:  Ken reflects on how the product management field has changed and matured over the years. Product management is no longer a “nascent, upstart concept”- it’s an established role that people understand the need for. Ken laments the number of product leaders with no experience in the field being hired into companies. He discusses “this trend of people putting leaders in the position of product leadership, who have never been in the product field before.” Senior product leaders should develop and execute an apprenticeship-type program for people who want to work in the product field.  Melissa comments that several product leaders are becoming general managers; she worries about the future of people who are purely product people. Ken says that he sees the general manager position as “a maturity of the product leadership role, a recognition of how important and critical that job really is.” Successful product leaders learn to lead in a way that inspires others, while confronting challenges in a proactive way. Ken talks about his experience at Google, and shares stories and examples about the leadership team and their approach to product.  Ensuring your team’s success means laying your plan out in steps and showing real evidence: it means showing a path forward that people can rally behind. Resources Ken Norton on LinkedIn | Twitter | Bring the Donuts, LLC
Sharpening Your Financial Skill Set with Giff Constable
Nov 9 2022
Sharpening Your Financial Skill Set with Giff Constable
Melissa Perri welcomes Giff Constable to this episode of the Product Thinking Podcast. Giff is a product leader and former CPO of both Meet Up and Neo. Giff is passionate about helping product people sharpen their financial skills, which is a big topic of conversation in this episode. He talks to Melissa about why it’s key that product executives understand the nuances of financials, the most important relationships for a product executive to cultivate and how, why Giff never regrets investing time in the exercise of creating FP&A models, the ins and outs of understanding valuation, and so much more.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Giff explore: Giff talks about his career path and how he ended up in CPO and CEO roles. When communicating in a corporate space, adjust your language depending on who you're speaking to, with the goal of finding common ground.  Giff explains the FP&A model.  Nothing changes user behavior more than your pricing model. Adjust your pricing model so that the majority of your customers are satisfied. "When both the customer and the company are being successful together, everyone's reinvesting, everyone's happy," Giff tells Melissa. Product leaders should build a relationship with their teams. An easy way to do this is to involve them in decision-making. Trust is built. You don't have to do everything by yourself or work in silos.  Valuation has to do with what someone is willing to pay for what you have. Companies are valued with a multiple of their top or bottom line. Lower growth companies are valued in the multiple of the bottom line. Higher growth companies tend to be valued as a multiple of revenue. How fast or slow a company grows has to do with its product. If a company has poor prioritization or if there are market shifts, its product will become obsolete and contribute to slow growth for the company. For larger companies, there's also the risk of being so far ahead that you don't see who's catching up with you, and by the time you do, it's too late. Prioritization and paying attention to market trends and shifts are key. Resources Giff Constable | LinkedIn | Twitter
Investing in Internal Tools with John Athayde
Oct 26 2022
Investing in Internal Tools with John Athayde
Melissa Perri welcomes John Athayde to this episode of the Product Thinking Podcast. John is a design team leader, strategist, and individual contributor, as well as VP of Design at PowerFleet. John and Melissa discuss how he shifted focus to the importance of internal tools at Living Social, how he got buy-in from leadership to prioritize internal tools, the process of creating a design system for a scaling organization, the benefits of design systems, design systems vs. style guides, and the tools and org structure he recommends to get set up for success.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and John talk about: What led John to PowerFleet. John shares how he started pushing for improved internal controls. “As I was working on the front-end screens, [I realized] we could make this a little better.” He convinced some product people and engineers, and they collaborated to do a bunch of mockups. They presented them to the CTO, who gave them his blessing. Designers should know how to code, or at least know how code happens, according to John. “You can’t design a building without knowing how a building is built.” You can use product thinking to design your internal tools. It’s less of just a design issue and more of an issue of creating a product, which is a complex internal operating system. This is necessary to actually scale. A UX engineer is a front-end developer who is primarily focused on the look and feel as opposed to functionality. They are the bridge between functionality and design. It's a person with the design sensibility who can speak code and help implement, but they're not doing the implementation. Now that almost everyone has some kind of experience with software, UX and UI have become more essential. Consumers are going to subconsciously compare their experience with your user interface with others. Every company needs a source of truth for their operations, that is, documentation for all the relevant information needed to continue operations. In the event of key people leaving, the work they did would still be there for the next person to take over. We often take for granted how important the role of a UX designer is in a high-growth organization. Resources John Athayde on LinkedIn | Twitter | Website
Becoming the Hero of Your Own Story with Donna Lichaw
Oct 12 2022
Becoming the Hero of Your Own Story with Donna Lichaw
Melissa Perri welcomes Donna Lichaw to this episode of the Product Thinking Podcast. Donna is a product leader turned leadership coach and the author of The User's Journey. She joins Melissa to talk about how she helps leaders and executives answer questions like, “how do I get my team excited to show up to work every day?” by becoming the heroes of their own stories. They discuss the importance of being clear on what untrue stories you might tell yourself and the importance of self-awareness, common challenges Donna faces when working with leaders, the helpful side of imposter syndrome, and how to identify your own superpower and use it for good.   Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Donna explore: Donna talks about what led her down the path of leadership coaching. A big sign that someone isn't ready to be a leader is when they resort to the blame game. It also indicates a lack of self-awareness.  "What I found is that the stories you tell other people are only as powerful as the stories you do or don't tell yourself.” The main challenges that Donna has seen leaders encounter are a lack of trust for their teams and executives, a lack of mentorship, and letting go of control.  Imposter syndrome can actually be helpful in a certain way. Donna talks about ways leaders can use it or combat it to perform better at their jobs. The behaviors that aren't serving you are actually your superpowers. "They're your superpowers because you're really good at defaulting to that behavior. And that behavior is really strong. It's so strong that it guides you all the time, even when you don't want it to." Telling stories as a leader is not enough. "The trick is really to involve other people and bring them along on your journey; and with everyone you work with, you always want to think, ‘How are they going to be a hero, and how do I make them feel really excited to work with me?’” To tactically make someone the hero and help bring them on your side, you must first connect with them one-on-one. Understand what makes them tick, their goals, and their challenges. [37:11] Resources Donna Lichaw | LinkedIn | Twitter The User's Journey
Defining Outcomes Over Output with Josh Seiden
Sep 28 2022
Defining Outcomes Over Output with Josh Seiden
Josh Seiden is Melissa Perri’s guest on this episode of the Product Thinking Podcast. Josh is a consultant and bestselling author of Lean UX, Sense and Respond, and his latest book, Outcomes Over Output: Why Customer Behavior Is the Key Metric for Business Success. In this week’s show, he and Melissa explore why saying “outcomes over outputs” is a lot easier than actually committing to it in practice, measurable outcomes, correlation versus causation, the problem with getting fixated on process, and how to keep your team focused on outcomes as a leader.   Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Josh talk about: One of the challenges companies face that prevents them from becoming outcome-centric is the legacy of how they manage their work, Josh says.  “Change in human behavior creates value, which helps us to take a huge step forward.” Josh advises that you build a logic model with impact and outcome. Identify the leading and lagging indicators that help you determine if your business model could be successful. Teams get so fixated on processes or methods that they don’t look at the big picture in what they’re trying to achieve and the whole ecosystem of their market. What data is out there already so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel? The surprising power of the words, “just tell me a story…” to help shift focus to data and figuring out what outcomes to go after.  Josh talks about the success of the book and what he might add to a second edition.  Josh says that most companies need to develop a risk-tolerant, psychologically safe environment, where employees are allowed to experiment freely to find what works best for the company.  Resources: Josh Seiden on LinkedIn
Finding Agility Through Psychological Safety with Tara Scott
Sep 14 2022
Finding Agility Through Psychological Safety with Tara Scott
Melissa Perri interviews Tara Scott at the Agile 2022 Conference on this week’s episode of the Product Thinking Podcast. Tara is an experienced product coach and organizational behavior design coach who specializes in psychological safety, which is the ability to speak up in the workplace without fear of negative consequences. Tara tells Melissa how experiences in her own family led her to this important line of work, how she realized psychological safety could actually help increase organizational agility, what happens when a company isn’t psychologically safe, why having a “work” version of you is actually harmful, the inevitable uncomfortable moments that come with creating a safer work environment, particularly for leadership, and more.  Here are some key points you’ll hear Melissa and Tara talk about: Tara talks about her own background and what led her to teach psychological safety. Tara assesses the psychological safety of an organization by conducting individual conversations with the team. If you feel like you have to micromanage your employees, it probably means that you don't feel safe giving them the freedom to do their jobs. This can be damaging to your team's morale and productivity. Tara advises that leaders should “lead with curiosity as opposed to leading with questions” as this would create positive interactions with employees and allow them to feel psychologically safe. Open communication, diversity and inclusion, willingness to help and willingness to ask for help, and attitudes towards risk and failure are the four metrics used to measure if a work environment is psychologically safe. Tara explains that when employees are more relaxed and laugh, it is a sign that the work environment is becoming more psychologically safe. Another indicator is when team leaders work actively to create a psychologically safe environment. Tara suggests that every morning, remote teams should sit around before work and just talk to each other – get to know each other and become comfortable hearing your own voice. This promotes psychological safety within the team. As an executive, if you're noticing your organization becoming psychologically unsafe you can introduce an optional virtual coffee, where your employees can join for 15 minutes to relax and have conversations with co-workers. Resources Tara Scott on LinkedIn