Chapter 2The Fundamentals of Product Marketing

You know that red squiggly underline that automatically appears any time you've misspelled something in Word?

It debuted after an executive team edict proclaimed every product unit had to simultaneously ship its next version together with the upcoming release of Windows. The team's development time was slashed in half, which meant we'd only be able to ship a fraction of the number of features as the prior version.

This was in the peak of the feature arms race era, a time when value was equated with stickers on boxes highlighting hundreds of features packed inside.

Not only were there far fewer features in the next version, but many of them weren't major game changers. They were clever enhancements of features already in the product. How could we take our feature-light version and make it feel like a worthy, full-fledged release?

It was in a team brainstorming session that a product marketer pulled out an instrumentation study the product team had done. It analyzed every keystroke of hundreds of users. He pointed out the planned enhancements fell into two categories:

  1. Functions most people used most of the time—like formatting text
  2. Features used less frequently, like bulleted lists, but for the people who did use them, they used them a lot

It was a eureka moment—this is how we can tell this version's story: it focuses on what matters most for how most people use Word.

Back then, press and analyst meetings mattered a lot because ...

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