Sometimes it is all about the distance. Proxemics – You can tell how close people are by the distance between them when they talk.
Mind the Gap – You need to watch the distance between the train door and the station platform.
In Hi-Tech Product Management you need to be careful about the distance between you and your customer. This is a key issue for many companies. As a Product Manager you need to understand the customers and the value you bring to them. That is very difficult to do when you keep your distance.
This is a huge issue for young companies and startups (and their Product Managers) struggling to establish a business model. Get too close (engage directly with your customers) and you find out your resources are stretched and are holding you back. Get too far (use various self-serve options or distribution channels) and you will not understand your customer.
The answer is to do keep just the right distance:
* Engage directly with a few, wisely selected, customers that will be a representative sample of your target market.
* Use Self-Serve sales in a way that you are still engaged and build a process where you can actually learn about your customers
* Use traditional distribution channels carefully – make sure they do not extend the distance unnecessarily
This is important especially early on when you are shaping your product strategy and define your business model.