What I learned at #NZSMJ

Today I went along to the NZ Sales and Marketing Jam organised by Kiwi Landing Pad.

I was aware that the event consisted of a panel of US experts talking on Sales, Marketing, Product Management, American Etiquette & getting US ready.

It was a free event (although you had to express interest and then be invited).

To be honest, I didn’t have high expectations. Panel talks I’ve seen at conferences have been forced, disorganised and offered less value than individual talks. The quality of the advice depends heavily on the questions and facilitation.

Panels are much harder to get right than conference organisers anticipate.

And #NZSMJ was an entire day of one panel…

It turns out I was very wrong. The event was exceptional. We may have lucked out by being the second of three events (Christchurch was yesterday, Auckland is tomorrow) so the panel had the perfect mix of enthusiasm and chemistry. It was clear the panelist got along and bounced off each other well. Every story shared was valuable and insightful.

We are seriously lucky to have such high calibre speakers and events in Wellington. For free.

It was mentioned that this event came together in just one month, yet the panelists were top notch. They included:

They shared a vast range of knowledge which was practical and applicable. Here’s a few of the soundbites I found most interesting…

On community management

  • Your community is your first asset, even before you have closed any sales
  • Lead by example, be the community member you want to attract
  • Give you product away for free to your evangelists and let them bring in those with chequebooks
  • Talk to your early adopters, learn about them so you can find others like them
  • But be aware that early adopters may want different things than the more risk adverse late majority

On scaling for growth 

  • Do the unscalable first, the panelists mentioned meeting with people face-to-face as an example. They recommended showing a small number customers the right amount of “love” before worrying about how to scale your approach.
  • Go step-by-step, you build by moving from 1 – 10 -100 customers. Not by jumping straight to 1,000
  • Don’t assume. Solve the problems you have right now. Not the ones you expect to have in the near future (they might well sort themselves)
  • Ask yourself why are you expanding?
  • Don’t expand offshore until you’re sure you’ve saturated your home market first
  • Don’t accept mediocrity. Don’t hire people with low EQ.
  • Don’t let the IMPOSSIBLY PERFECT stand in the way of the POSSIBLY GOOD

On product management 

  • Your most important job as a product manager is saying NO
  • You protect the vision of your product by choosing what you do NOT do
  • Don’t formalise product management too early, there’s no time for detailed planning when you’re still in the “hacking and hustling” phase
  • Collect feedback, decisions should be data driven, not opinion driven
  • Do not let HIPPOS wreck your product (HIPPO – highest paid person’s opinion)

On storytelling

  • Your employees are your first community, onboarding new staff is critical
  • How do you get people to rally behind your brand?
  • There’s a difference between employees who are working to a JD and ones who are engaged with your company’s mission
  • Can every person in your company tell your company and product’s story?
  • Creating a connection is not about engaging everyone, but about a message that resonates with the few you’re hoping to engage
  • And finally, Savannah really tells amazing stories. I won’t try to repeat her Christmas miracle story, but if you ever get the pleasure of meeting her make sure you ask her about it!

And finally, never forget

  • Faking it until you make it = just backing yourself to deliver

If you’re in Auckland tomorrow, I’d highly recommend tweeting @kiwilandingpad and seeing if there’s any way you can get a ticket!

I’m now blogging across at www.TechMarketer.org, please check out my latest posts there.

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