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Join me at PIPELINE 2014!

On this Friday, June 6, 2014, I will be presenting at a virtual conference called PIPELINE 2014.  PIPELINE is put on by Planview, and will include presentations about a wide variety of topics of interest to Product Management and Marketing professionals, including innovation, ideation, prioritization, and how to change your culture.  I will be giving a talk entitled “The Cornerstone of a Market Driven Organization,” and if you’ve always wanted to go to a Pragmatic Marketing training, but never had the chance, this is a good opportunity to get a taste of our philosophy.  Best of all, PIPELINE is free, and the presentations are all archived online for you to watch at your leisure – all at once or over the next year!

You can read the entire agenda of presenters here, and see what catches your eye.  Register for free at this link.  See you on the 6th!

Ride the Pipeline

Pipeline 2010If you’re a regular reader of this space, you know that I don’t write plug articles.  In fact, I regularly turn down authors and PR people who try to buy or bribe space here.  It’s not that this blog is a super-hot spot for eyeballs (it’s not), it’s that the people who come here are strong product leaders that others want to reach.  I respect that and try to honor your time by only writing about products or events I have personal experience with, like ProductCamp.  Today I am going to take a little bit of a flyer and get behind something new because I know the people involved and its potential to be great: Pipeline 2010.

Pipeline is a virtual conference about innovation, product development, and portfolio management best practices.  Like ProductCamp, it’s free to attend.  You attend from your computer and can view several different speakers on a variety of topics, including Chris Trimble, Braden Kelley, and my friend and fellow Pragmatic Marketing instructor John Milburn.  You can pick and choose from the topics you view and you’re not locked into a day and out for travel and other expenses.   It’s nice to see a corporate conference get smart about the reality of our budgets for travel and expenses in the current economy, and even better to see them picking up some un-conference principles like unstructured scheduling.  I will be interested to see if and how the virtual conference addresses the networking aspect – how do I interact with and meet the interesting people I would have met at the coffee station?  How do I corner a keynote speaker in the hallway after their talk to drill down on a point they made?  I’ll report back on these.

Planview is the company behind Pipeline 2010.  They are good people and have sponsored ProductCamp Austin for the past year, along with lending the wonderful Audrey Montgomery to the PCA planning team for logistics and volunteers.

Pipeline 2010 will be held online on November 10, 2010 from 8AM – 3PM CST, you can register here.

Cisco Marketing Has Gone Crazy…Like a Fox!

CiscoUsually, when a big company decides to get hip to the newest Marketing trend, it’s like watching your Dad trying to dance to hip-hop: painful. Cisco is as big as they come, so I was really skeptical when I heard that they were putting a full court press on Product Marketing in new media like blogs, SecondLife , and Facebook (companies != people, you’re not my “friend”). Plus, Cisco has already had some bumps in the road with regards to blogging.

On the web, knowing your limits is key, and keeping the message light and self-depreciating is a skill that most big-company Product Marketers don’t have. No one wants to read a blog about heavy specifications; it’s boring. Believe me, as someone who is (gulp) responsible for some of that Cisco datasheet content, I can attest to how dry it is. Collateral might accurately convey information, but how do you capture mindshare and get in front of people in the first place? You need a hook, and Cisco’s trying to use new media for this purpose.

Cisco Edge QuestOne innovative tactic Cisco’s using is an online game called Edge Quest. It’s silly, but fun – you “fly” a “hovering router” around a virtual arena picking up “packets” to upgrade your “ship.” It reminded me of Tron. Cisco is running an contest for $10,000 and new ASR router give-away for the highest score. Here’s what I see as the pros and cons:


  • It’s different; there aren’t a lot of these advergames out there yet, so people will play out of curiosity
  • iMedia Connection says that games like these offer better brand retention and key message absorption than other methods and…
  • Games engage us at an emotional level…the place every Marketer wants to be! As much as we’d like to think that buying, especially B2B purchasing is rational, it’s not. Remember the saying “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM?”


  • Routers and switches are complex, high tech devices. I’m all for boiling down to key messages, but are they devaluing the product by associating it with a game? Would this be more appropriate for Linksys?
  • Some people turn up their noses at games that are also try to “teach.” I think Cisco struck a good balance here, but some people will take any product info in the game as an affront. Dude – it’s free.

Overall I think this is a really cool idea and I’m curious to see how it goes.

The Cisco Team pinged me about answering some questions on this topic, so I’ll close with these:

How many hours do you game each week (sandbag accordingly if your boss will read this) and whats your favorite one?

I’d say about 4 hours. I’m known as a merciless killer on Team Fortress 2.

What do you consider your biggest accomplishment in your gaming life? (Come on, I know you have one! Mine was mastering the expert slope on the Intellivision ski game If only my actual skiing were a tenth as good)

The original NFL2K on Dreamcast had a bug where you could throw a long bomb to Randy Moss and get a touchdown every time. I exploited that and had over 200 points scored in each of 16 games against the computer, and ended the season with something like 20,000 yards and 450 TDs. Just like in real life!

How key is the speed and quality of your broadband connection when you play games, and how much (if any) would you be willing to pay your provider for a faster, better connection?

That’s a really interesting question, because 6 months ago I would have said “very important” and “yes.” Since then, I paid for the upgrade to RoadRunner Turbo, and I didn’t see much of a difference, so I went back to the standard package. I’ll still say yes, but only if I can get Japan-like speeds to my desktop. C’mon Cisco, make it happen!

I am sure youve seen lots of game contests where you play to win skins or stickers or a virtual t-shirt but have you ever participated in an online gaming tournament where the winner won money, and how much of a draw was this prize to encourage you to participate?

I’ve played in online tournaments before that had money as a prize, but never with the expectation that I’d actually compete for the top spot, it was always about the competition and beating my personal best. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it since I didn’t win.

What will you do with $10,000 if you win the tournament?

To quote one of my favorite lines from my RTFProduction professor, Richard Lewis, “I have multiple projects in various stages of development.” I’m sure they could all benefit!

Also if you win, what would you do with the Cisco ASR 1002?

I dream of the day that I would actually need a router like that.

We have a lively debate going in the office along the lines of fantasy edgequest (you can tell we tend to live this stuff.): One camp says the eventual winner will be a technical networking type (and game enthusiast) who loves Cisco, the other says that pro gamers will come in dominate the leader board. What say you which camp will dominate?

The Pros, absolutely. At this very moment there are teams training around the clock in China to win this contest. Of course they just want to win the ASR to reverse engineer it!

Our intent with this game is to find new ways to engage with our customers and to have fun in the process (not to create a separate gaming line of business for the Company!) Is it effective, do you know more about the Cisco ASR 1000 as a result of playing, and should we continue to engage you with such games in the future?

Granted that I’m not Cisco’s target persona for this product, but I say at least this is different. It’s worth a try to get the feedback and then evaluate. The risk is that IT managers probably don’t want all of their vendors sending games to fill up their employees in-boxes. That will quickly devolve into “I can’t fix her laptop, I’m ‘learning’ about routers!”

The ROI may be tough to measure, but the great thing about Web 2.0 marketing is that the “I” does not have to be large, so you can try lots of different tactics and find what works.

Full Disclosure: I used to work @ Cisco until 2006, and still have many friends there.