What Product Managers Really Do

January 28th, 2014 by IMadmin No comments »

Shared by: Navi Ganancial, Consultant at Ivanhoe & McToterson

I came across this article and found it to be an interesting read. I wanted to share it with all of you (especially you aspiring or current product managers out there). The key points from the article:

    1. You’re not managing a product. You’re managing the problem it solves.
    2. Your product is only as good as a user’s perception of it.
    3. Product Managers are neither designers nor engineers.
    4. It’s not about being a star — It’s about managing a universe.

Click Here to read the article

Are you truly living your life to its fullest?

December 2nd, 2013 by IMadmin No comments »

Written by: Dan Ganancial, Consultant at Ivanhoe & McToterson

The following word image I am about to share with you is not new. It was written as a manifesto for the company Holstee back in 2009. This manisfeto has taken the world by storm since then as it has been shared many times over. What turned out as a simple mission statement has become a marketing powerhouse for Holstee. But my focus is not on how strong a marketing asset this mission statement has become; instead, I’d like to forget about talking business altogether. I’m doing my part to share this message with you (just in case you haven’t seen it already). I hope that you find inspiration, comfort, motivation, a renewed spirit, or anything that spurs you to take action. Life is too short. Live your life to its fullest with no regrets. #yolo



the-holstee-manifesto_full-590x789


Deliver Apps Your Users Will Love

July 22nd, 2013 by IMadmin No comments »

Written by: I&M Content Team at Ivanhoe & McToterson

Mobile and web applications are changing the way companies of all sizes and in all industries do business. As these mobile- and web-based technologies improve, they must meet high user expectations. When users interact with these applications, they expect constant availability, an intuitive interface, an enjoyable experience, and new and improved features. Because of these expectations, apps must delight their customers day after day to keep them coming back. To deliver apps that your users will love, keep these points in mind as you develop your product strategy:

  1. Implement agile development processes. Salesforce.com wrote a whitepaper titled “The 7 Secrets of SaaS Startup Success.” The article states …

    Faster development requires that you break down complex R&D projects into smaller, independent components you can develop quickly. Using this strategy, you’ll save time by avoiding the many interdependencies of traditional projects and eliminate the need to support multiple platforms and versions. Instead, you can develop, package, and deploy a single version to all customers.

  2. Listen to your users. Create feedback mechanisms that let your users easily communicate with you. You want to know what they are thinking in order to give them more of what they love and fix what they don’t. Strategies for getting subjective user feedback include user acceptance testing (a must-do before you ever release a product), surveys, focus groups, user groups, and customer support.
  3. Keep your app always available. In order to do this, you need to minimize downtime and poor performance of your app. The way to do this is by investing in infrastructure that supports a reliable, scalable architecture.
  4. Keep your app easy to use. A simple app that is easy to understand and use encourages greater user adoption. Simplicity is key. Leave the complexity behind. Doug Sumaraga, Founding Partner of eMentoree, says

    Our app should be easy to use. The less time it takes our users to ‘get it,’ the faster they’ll become brand ambassadors on our behalf. To help them get it, our goal is to make our application as easy to use as possible.

  5. Track and analyze behavior patterns of all your users. Quantitative data-driven insights will help you develop an app that users will love. These data-driven insights will also help you better market your app. You want to measure everything down to the mouse click, instead of relying solely on surveys or other subjective feedback from a subset of users. Ensure that quantitative usage statistics and subjective user feedback drive your current development efforts and future product plans. Make this information available to all employees involved with creating or marketing your product.
  6. Create a “Chief Customer Advocate” position. This person’s role is to always take the customer position on all decisions that affect the customer experience, from features to UI/UX to pricing to support. This person is the voice of the customer internally. The goal is to make sure that the customer’s voice is heard.
  7. Sell a service. Not a product. You’re not just selling a product, but a complete service that solves a problem or makes life easier for your users. Your service includes delivery, support, added features, and ongoing maintenance. Employing a service-minded approach towards your users will ensure that you develop relationships with them that create loyalty to your product. This approach has a stronger impact on how you acquire, interact with, and retain users.

Hustle – An Entrepreneur’s Most Valuable Skill

March 20th, 2013 by IMadmin No comments »

Written by: Dan Ganancial, Entrepreneur/Consultant at Ivanhoe & McToterson

Last month we posted an article titled Courage – An Entrepreneur’s Most Valuable Asset. An entrepreneur needs to have courage in order to pursue the entrepreneur’s trek. Yet, courage alone will not get this person very far. Along with courage, the entrepreneur needs to have another most valuable trait – Hustle.

Dictionary.com defines hustle as: To proceed or work rapidly or energetically; to be aggressive, especially in business or other financial dealings; to convey or cause to move; energetic activity, as in work. Now, there are those out there that would say hustle connotes a negative image as to deceive and exploit. In the context of entrepreneurship, hustle is no where near those connotations. In fact, hustle to an entrepreneur means to be driven and motivated. Like Isaac Newton’s first law, an entrepreneur who is hustling will tend to keep hustling, thus moving forward and inching closer to the end goal.

Like the Energizer Bunny, hustle keeps an entrepreneur going and going and going. It is this drive that keeps one constantly and consistently searching out opportunities, finding new clients, seeking to build a stronger network, and working tirelessly to pursue a dream and a passion. If courage is the spark that gets the entrepreneurial fire going, then hustle is the accelerant that feeds the fire to grow and burn brighter and faster.

It would be great if all of us entrepreneurs were blessed with hustle; however, not all of us are fortunate enough to have this gift. In addition, not all of us can easily learn how to hustle or execute it very well. Not all of us are motivated enough to hustle harder than the next guy. There is nothing wrong with this, and the lack of hustle does not discount you from being an entrepreneur. Yet, the basic truth is that the more you hustle, the more you will accomplish and the faster you will reach your goal(s). You should make it a priority to become a better hustler. If you know you are weak or lack this skill, then partner with a person who has the gift of hustle or hire individuals who have a knack for hustling. Let these people hustle for you, but make sure you can do it too.

In conclusion, Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha had this to say about hustle in their book The Start-Up of You.

No matter where you are in your career, there will be moments when you feel like your back is against the wall. When you feel like you’re going nowhere. When you may be short on funds or allies or both. When no one is knocking at your door inviting you to stuff. These situations call for the most entrepreneurial opportunity-generating strategy: hustle.

Entrepreneurs – The Start-Up of You

February 26th, 2013 by IMadmin No comments »

Prepared by: I&M Content Team at Ivanhoe & McToterson

Entrepreneurship does not begin with an idea. Entrepreneurship does not begin with money. Entrepreneurship does not begin with collaboration.

Entrepreneurship begins with You!

We came across this presentation and wanted to share it with our readers. Kudos to the individuals who created this message.

The Entrepreneur’s Trek

February 12th, 2013 by IMadmin 1 comment »

Written by: Navi Ganancial, Entrepreneur/Consultant at Ivanhoe & McToterson

Life is a journey and sometimes you just need to break away from the pack and blaze your own trail. Entrepreneurs breathe, embody, and live this statement everyday. Their journey is one of ups and downs, but their reward (not always financial) is worth the trip. If you decide to take the entrepreneurial trek, you must understand that you will face a lot of adversity, second-guessing, worrying, risk, fear, and possible failure. At the same time, you will also experience a lot of joy, self-fulfillment, self-enrichment, and accomplishment in various ways. In our previous blog article, we stated that courage is an entrepreneur’s most valuable asset. In this article, we want to highlight that you should never give up on becoming an entrepreneur.

Check out this cool infographic.


Nothing ventured. Nothing gained.

Speaking of Michael Jordan, did you also know that:
– He missed over 9000 shots at goal (that is more shots than an average NBA player even takes)
– 26 times he was given the ball to take the game winning shot and missed

Have you ever watched the movie The Replacements? The movie is about a rag-tag team of replacement players who are called on to finish the season’s last four games when NFL players go on strike. In the movie actor Gene Hackman says “Winners always want the ball.” Michael Jordan wanted to win. He wanted the ball. Regardless if he missed or not, he always took the shot.

Do you want to reach the top of Mt. Entrepreneurship? If so, then take your shot and go for it. If you fail, try and try again. Never forget that no matter what obstacles come your way, stay focused and persist. Keep your mind fixated on reaching the top and finishing your trek!

The Entrepreneur’s Trek is not for everyone; however, it is rewarding and fulfilling for those that decide to follow this path. For those of you who decide to diverge and blaze your own trail, we wish you the best and hope for future success. If you need encouragement, words of advice, or insight from those who have conquered the Entrepreneurial Trek, please contact us at info@ivanhoemctoterson.com or leave us a comment. We are more than happy to help you along your journey.

Courage – An Entrepreneur’s Most Valuable Asset

February 5th, 2013 by IMadmin 1 comment »

Written by: Dan Ganancial, Entrepreneur/Consultant at Ivanhoe & McToterson

As we were skimming through articles on the web, our team came across one in particular that got our attention. The article titled Tech Investor: Courage Is an Entrepreneur’s Most Important Quality is a quick read, but one that contains a very important message for those pursuing the entrepreneurial path. The message, stated by venture capitalist Ben Horowitz, is that great entrepreneurs have two key qualities: brilliance and courage. While we feel that the first quality is important, we do not think it is always necessary. There are many successful entrepreneurs who do not operate on a genius-like level. Instead, the more important quality a great entrepreneur needs to have is courage.

Dictionary.com defines courage as: The quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery. To have the courage of one’s convictions, to act in accordance with one’s beliefs, especially in spite of criticism.

Courage is what keeps an entrepreneur motivated to tough it out through thick and thin. Courage is what allows an entrepreneur to walk away if the idea turns out to be bad. Courage is what drives an entrepreneur to leave his or her “safe” job in order to pursue an unproven opportunity. Courage is an entrepreneur’s last resort when acquaintances, skeptics, friends and family say that the idea is too risky or that the idea seems too hard to create and execute. Courage is the entrepreneur’s weapon that kills self-doubt.

We understand that it is easier to say “have courage” than to actually go and do it. No one said it would be easy. But we strongly believe that choosing to be courageous and applying it habitually will be an entrepreneur’s most valuable asset.

So, how do you get started on the path to courageousness amidst all the uncertainty and riskiness inherent in entrepreneuralism? Two thoughts for you …

1. Surround yourself with like-minded people who will support you as well as help you achieve your dreams. Their encouragement will get you through your down-and-out days. Their collaboration will fuel your entrepreneurial fire.
2. Do at least one thing each day to make your dreams a reality. Taking one step at a time and doing it in a consistent manner will build courage because you will start to see progress towards your goals.

In conclusion, we want to leave you with a few quotes from one of our favorite entrepreneurs. Our hope is that you find inspiration and reinforcement in the words below. Walt Disney said:

‎“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”

How To Increase Your App Ranking – Part 2

January 15th, 2013 by IMadmin 1 comment »

Written by: Dan Ganancial, Consultant at Ivanhoe & McToterson

In Part 1 of this series, we discussed how increasing your app ranking depends heavily on users finding out about your app, downloading it, and then spreading the word. Getting this to happen can be done via organic promotion as well as paid advertisement. The following information below offers ideas on how to effectively market your app using both organic and non-organic marketing channels.

Before I get to the good stuff, I highly recommend that you define your mobile marketing strategy prior to app launch. In addition, I advise that you have mobile-app measurement metrics in place to measure the success of your app marketing efforts. My previous blogpost How To Measure The Success Of Your Mobile Strategy can provide you with some useful mobile-app metrics to measure.

One important metric to focus on is to calculate the number of downloads you will need to get into the top rankings. Every category requires a different number of downloads to move into the top ranking for that category. Finding the exact number can be challenging so an approximation will suffice. The idea is to establish a baseline amount of downloads your app needs to move its way into the top rankings.

And now to the goodies ….

1. Get featured on app review sites. A high percentage of downloads for new apps occur after those apps have been reviewed by app review sites or other earned media outlets (tech news, mainstream media, niche related press, etc.). It’s important to reach out to these media outlets in order to drive a burst of downloads at your launch time.
2. Hit up the bloggers and tech writers. Pitching bloggers and tech writers is a complex art, but here are some useful tips from Venturebeat:
– Know your journalist(s). Make it enticing for them to cover your app.
– Tell them what they want to know, quickly. Focus on urgency, significance, and numbers.
– Be honest about your app. Nobody likes a liar.
– Make it easy for them. Minimize their workload when it comes to material and written words.
– Make your pitch more than an ad. Tell a story.

3. Sharing is caring. Word of mouth is one of the most important ways new users can find your app. You have to do everything in your power to make it easy for your current users to share your app as well as content within your app via SMS, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, email, etc. The simpler you make sharing the app, the more users will engage in the process of sharing. In addition, tell your friends and family. Have them download the app and try it out.
4. Encourage users to rate and review your app. Where an app ranks in search results relies on how many ratings it has and how high those ratings are. It’s critical for your app’s success to receive as many 5 star ratings as possible.
6. Run burst campaigns to rise in the rankings, then lower your spend and stay ranked organically. Running a burst paid ad campaign is one of the best ways to drive downloads. Once your ad campaign begins, you’ll see an increase in the number of downloads and users of your app. If your app is valuable, you’ll get great ratings and reviews, and the app will be shared by users with their friends. Due to the increase in downloads, you will now begin to rank higher. Once you’re ranking high, you can then start to decrease your ad spend. This creates a cycle of organic app growth: your app ranks highly in the Top Charts, which drives downloads and ratings, which causes your app to continue to rank highly in the Top Charts.

You have to create a great app and consistently promote it through as many channels as possible in order to succeed in the app marketplace. At Ivanhoe & McToterson we work with clients to execute the strategies discussed above. What we’ve found is that with a lot of work, and a little luck, you can build a very successful mobile app that will climb in the rankings!

* What app-marketing strategies have worked for you? Please leave us a comment.

How To Increase Your App Ranking – Part 1

January 8th, 2013 by IMadmin 2 comments »

Written by: Dan Ganancial, Consultant at Ivanhoe & McToterson

The mobile app nation is growing, and so are users’ appetites for cool apps! App competition has become fierce as mobile-app developers and companies fight to gain brand awareness and consumer interest. Many apps depend on top placement in app store rankings in order to attract and acquire user downloads. To acquire a higher ranking for your app, here are a few things to consider:

Considerations

1. What category will you be assigning to your app? Some categories (like social and communication) are more competitive than others, thus obtaining a higher ranking can be harder or easier depending on the category you select.
2. Is your app Free or Paid or both? Competition is on average less fierce in Paid categories versus Free categories. However, you have to ask yourself “How many users visit Paid versus Free?” According to a BGR blog post citing Gartner Research, free apps will have accounted for nearly 90% of all downloads in 2012. The new year 2013 should see this trend continue.
3. Research your competition. Which apps rank highly in app store search results for your keywords? What are their features and value propositions? What other keywords do they target? What makes them better than other similar apps? Pick the top 3 contenders based on similarity to your app and the competitor’s success.

Before Your Launch

1. Keywords matter. To successfully market an app, you need to understand the keywords that will matter. Selecting strong keywords for your app builds the foundation for success of the remainder of your app marketing strategies.
2. Choose a good name. The right name can make or break an app. Your app name needs to be unique, memorable, and include the most important keywords that potential users will be searching for.
3. Brand image matters, so create an amazing icon. Make your icon amazing so users will be more likely to click on your app after seeing it in search results. Your icon should also stand out in a grid on your user’s device, making them more likely to open and interact with your app on a frequent basis.
4. Screenshots are your visual seller. You need to convert interested consumers to real users by convincing them to download your app. Screenshots are an essential tool to help turn these consumers into users. Make sure your screenshots are memorable, informative, and exciting. They need to draw a user’s eye to them, explain exactly what your app does, and convey how easy your app is to use.

Getting Discovered

Getting your app discovered is the fundamental challenge every app marketer faces amidst the growing see of available apps across iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and other platforms. Marketing will play a key role in building brand awareness and obtaining the most important factor that will increase your app ranking. That factor is …

Downloads. Downloads. Downloads.

Get them! Get as much as you can. Obtaining downloads and growing your user base will depend heavily on your app marketing efforts. Your goal should be to maximize press coverage that your app receives, maximize social media networking in order to increase app user engagement and interaction, and focus on gaining strong word-of-mouth and virality.

Part two of this article offers ideas on how to successfully market your app and accomplish the goals stated above. Stay tuned to this blog for the continuation.

* What app-ranking strategies or techniques have worked for you? Please leave us a comment.

Marketing Trends To Consider If You Want To Succeed in 2013

December 19th, 2012 by IMadmin No comments »

Written by: Dan Ganancial, Consultant at Ivanhoe & McToterson

Marketing in the digital age is ripe with opportunity! With the advent of additional marketing and advertising channels via mobile and social, marketers can now reach their audience with more ease and frequency. However, in order to best capitalize on the shift from traditional to digital, marketers must understand the trends that will shape the marketing environment in 2013.

Trend #1: One of the most important trends that will shape the future of marketing is digital marketing data and marketing analytics. The infographic below, courtesy of EBriks, sums up marketers’ view on this trend.

Marketing departments are behind the curve when it comes to collecting, measuring, and analyzing marketing data. CMOs and senior marketing executives realize the need to employ data-minded individuals or partner with firms (like Ivanhoe & McToterson) that can provide help with marketing analytics. I am certain we will see a big shift in business and hiring practices to address this need.

Trend #2: Marketers need to focus on mobile. eMarketer estimates that in 2012, U.S. consumers will spend an average 82 minutes per day on their mobile device, which is up 2x from 2010. Consumers are choosing to spend more time with their mobile devices. By the end of the year, the number of mobile devices will exceed the number of people on Earth. According to Cisco, there will be over 10 billion mobile devices, creating 10 billion opportunities for marketers to get closer to consumers. Brands need to get going with mobile marketing!

Take a look at mobile advertising. The IDC reported that by 2016 mobile advertising is expected to grow to $28.8 billion globally, which is up from $6 billion in 2011. Mobile advertising spend is expected to reach $14.8 billion by 2016 in the U.S., with mobile’s share of digital advertising climbing to 21% from 6%.

Greg Stuart, CEO of the Mobile Marketing Association, had this to say in his article Why Marketers Need to Get Mobile:

“Mobile has transitioned into a platform of NOW. Consumers want information now; they want to buy now; and they want to interact now. This concept of immediacy has transformed mobile into a tool of action and transaction in a single swipe, click, or tap.”

The concept of mobile leading marketing efforts is still too new and unsettled to marketers. Marketers are still trying to figure out how best to utilize and monetize mobile as well as measure mobile ROI. None-the-less, the industry does recognize mobile’s effectiveness as a leading marketing channel.

Trend #3: Image marketing is the new social marketing channel. Social media is becoming increasingly visual in nature and the photograph is fast becoming the center of a large proportion of social media engagement. With the increase in ownership and usage of mobile smartphones, people are taking and sharing pictures as part of their everyday lives like never before. This trend in the growing popularity of photo “image” sharing provides marketers with a new channel to exploit. The use of photographs in a company’s social interactions directly increases customer engagement. Brands that ignore this trend do so at their peril.

It’s All About the Images [infographic by MDG Advertising]
Infographic
by MDG Advertising

In conclusion, brands and industries must realize the power of marketing analytics, mobile marketing, and image marketing to transform their business and yield stronger consumer engagement. These trends will not disappear or diminish. It is a global movement that requires increased attention and budget allocation to fully realize the value it can offer marketers.