Cha makes a flute

My oldest daughter is a born product manager.

This morning, she took scrap bamboo, a saw, a hand drill, and safety glasses, and went to work at my workbench, making bamboo flutes to sell, door to door.

Seems like an eccentric activity, right?


I think it’s awesome, both as a father and as a product marketer. 

As I thought through what she was doing, I uncovered words of wisdom for all the product marketers out there.

1) Don’t be afraid to try something new. I dare say she’s the first person to handcraft bamboo flutes in suburban Central Texas. Who cares? I see thousands of “me too” products, marketing approaches, and sales strategies. Often, when I complete competitive marketing reviews, I could take the messages from Product A, attach them to Product B, and no one would know the difference. Try something new! Say something different! Go out on a limb!

2) Find the essential benefit. I asked her why she was making flutes, expecting something about making money, or not being bored, or even making music. Instead, she said, “I’m doing it to make people happy.” That’s the perfect answer. She instinctively found the deepest benefit. So often we confine our work to superficial benefits that are true — but not essential. Keep digging until you’ve found the essential benefit — and build what you do around that.

3) Have faith in your product. With eyes shining, she came to me and said that she’d be selling bamboo flutes, door to door. Instantly, my critical marketing brain kicked into gear and I said, “Honey, I don’t think anyone wants…” and then I shut the hell up because she was already ignoring me!  And that’s just what she should have done. She had faith. Market products you believe in. If you can’t believe in your product, go find another job.

4) Don’t poo-poo the product until it’s in market. Secretly, I thought that bamboo flutes were a bad idea, and then they’d flop, and that I should, as a good parent, distract her from trying so she wouldn’t be disappointed. However, I kept my mouth shut because I had no evidence. And that’s the point — I almost shut her down on the basis of nothing but a hunch. How often do we drop a product, or a feature, or a message, or a campaign, solely on a hunch? Why shouldn’t she market test bamboo flutes to see if there’s demand?

5) If you fail, come up with another way to deliver your core benefit. She discovered that it’s hard to make sell bamboo flutes because she doesn’t have the tools to cut the whistle, so they’re not really flutes. So tomorrow she’s going to paint pictures to sell door to door because, as she put it “that’s easier, and it makes people happy too.”  Pretty awesome if you ask me. She kept focused on her core benefit and came up with another product to fulfill it. She’s learned that not every product works out, and trying something new tomorrow is the fastest path to success.

What about you? What have you learned? Can you apply any of these principles?