Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Reflections of a #svpcamp Newbie

Third edit:  So much for the pcamp diary approach for the two previous edits.  It wasn't working and violated my own "who cares and why?" approach to product marketing.

Yes, I had a lot of fun, met some great people, got to answer a lot of questions and became a mentor to lad wanting to move into product management.  All very satisfying for me but doesn't do much to further the art and discipline of product marketing in the community.

There were two things that struck me about Product Camp: the dearth of pure product marketing sessions and a lack of contributions/challenges from the audiences (in the most of sessions I attended). 

There was good info in all the sessions I attended but they were all positioned for PM with the afterthought: "Most of this applies to PMM, too."  Gee, thanks.  What does and what doesn't?  We're charged with driving sales through vision, creative thinking and always pushing, not walking in the shadow of PM like some 19th century footman.  "I brushed your tweed suit for you sir.  Shall I fetch the cigars now?"  Why weren't more PMM sessions proposed nor voted on? 

Maybe I'm just grumpy this afternoon but I was expecting each session to have lively conversations with challenging statements and crunchy war stories - not college lectures.  Not surprisingly, Larry McKeogh's session on interviewing had a lot of questions and good suggestions for both sides of the equation. Barbara Nelson is a great presenter with a great topic but audience contribution was sparse despite her efforts.  The others I attended bordered on moribund.  For my money, if we all take the speaker's position as gospel, if we don't expand the topic with our own contributions on how we did something differently, if we don't challenge a position as <insert invective of choice> we'll all end up doing the exact same thing - resulting in an entire industry of leading providers of next generation technology.  How sad is that?

Here's what you do at the next Product Camp you attend:
  • Bring war stories - share them in session
  • Call BS when you see it - explain yourself
  • Ask at least 3 questions per session - consider yourself a failure if you don't
And don't give me that MABUSHI that you don't have anything to contribute, either.  If you've got a pulse you have something to contribute.  If you call yourself a PMM, you've got a LOT to contribute.  Do it.

<flame off>

Next up: What do XT-2000, VIO-4000 and DRX-9000 have in common?


  1. Tim - not that it's an excuse, but I thought this year's venue was much less encouraging of traditional "unconference" behaviors like audience participation & leaving a session if you aren't getting value.

    Too crowded and the closed-door rooms really allowed people to relax and let the speaker be the authority. I barely spoke up myself (and if you know me, you KNOW that's unusual).

  2. Oh great now I owe you the beer next time I am out there.

    Seriously, I would agree with you. I wasn't going to visit SVPcamp this year because I saw the same at last year's event. I also saw the same at RMPcamp as well. Why? It came to a couple of (lame) things: room arrangement and muscle memory. When people get in a situation with a speaker and power point it is like they are sitting in front of the boob-tube. They are in reception only mode.

    I would actually invite you to visit Austin's Pcamp. You'll come away with a different perspective. The exchange of ideas is huge.

    We'll be trying to do some new things at RMPcamp this year in order to foster the interaction. We'll see if they actually work. Maybe San Francisco's Pcamp will have a different vibe.

  3. Are you the f6804526-60cb-11e0-a455-000bcdcb5194 that lived over on Anderson Road when I was a kid? Yes, I am surprised you didn't speak up.

    I agree with both of you. Now that I've had a bit to eat and my blood sugar is back up I can see another part of the equation. As a presenter, if you are relying on your slides to deliver content, you audience will naturally fall into the lecture mode.

    Perhaps a session where there are no slides and the audience shapes the content with their questions would be more to my expectations.

    I'll start tilting at the windmill of sfpcamp and see what happens...

    Thanks both of you for your comments.


  4. Cindy,

    Yes SF has a pcamp - coming soon to a theatre near you. The twitter hashtag is #sfpcamp and it's slated for October (I think).