16: You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone – Joni Mitchell

16: You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone – Joni Mitchell

I’m writing about one hundred things I’ve learned about being a product manager.

People value something most when they’ve just lost it or come close to doing so.  If your product prevents this happening, take some advice from Joni Mitchell: you need to save your client the heartache of loss by helping them remember how much they value what they have now so that they don’t take it for granted.

This was brought home to me recently in a couple of different ways:

  • How much I valued my door keys when I remembered I’d left them on my desk at the office a three-hour round-trip away.
  • How I now value even more highly my motorbike security lock after it prevented someone stealing my bike

(Yes, it’s been one of those weeks.)

What have I learned from this?  For starters, I’m not going to forget my keys again.  Or park my bike in that spot again.

Relevance to product management?

Remind people of the value they’re taking for granted before securing the next payment

Your product should solve a problem for your target customer (if not, you have a more pressing issue to resolve).  Also, it is natural for people to take things for granted until it either stops working or is lost.  Just ask your IT team how often they’re congratulated for things working as they should.  If your product is based around a subscription model or some other recurring fee, you may find you need to remind people of the value they’re taking for granted before you can secure the next payment.

If you can remind your customers how valuable your product is to them just before asking them to pay their subscription fee, you’ll find the conversation much easier.  Better still, consider this: how could your product sell its own ongoing value to the customer on your behalf?

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Read more from Jock

The Practitioner's Guide to Product Management book cover

The Practitioner's Guide To Product Management

by Jock Busuttil

“This is a great book for Product Managers or those considering a career in Product Management.”

— Lyndsay Denton

Jock Busuttil is a product management and leadership coach, product leader and author. He has spent over two decades working with technology companies to improve their product management practices, from startups to multinationals. In 2012 Jock founded Product People Limited, which provides product management consultancy, coaching and training. Its clients include BBC, University of Cambridge, Ometria, Prolific and the UK’s Ministry of Justice and Government Digital Service (GDS). Jock holds a master’s degree in Classics from the University of Cambridge. He is the author of the popular book The Practitioner’s Guide To Product Management, which was published in January 2015 by Grand Central Publishing in the US and Piatkus in the UK. He writes the blog I Manage Products and weekly product management newsletter PRODUCTHEAD. You can find him on Mastodon, X (formerly Twitter) and LinkedIn.

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