What Product Managers Can Learn From A Handgun
I can’t tell you how many times I am working with clients that are attempting to enter new markets by copying products which are already being sold. In order to be a “me-too” product manager, you can certainly do this. However, if you really understand the way that product development definition should be done and want to be a breakthrough product manager who rules your market, then perhaps you should have a lesson from the handgun manufacturer Glock…
SOMETHING Innovation Story
Handguns aren’t new. In fact they’ve been around for years. Everyone knows virtually what they appear to be, what they do, and who makes them. The market is dominated by such big name firms as Smith & Wesson, Heckler & Koch, Sig Sauer, Beretta, and Steyr. You wouldn’t think that that even the best product manager on the market would stand a chance of being able to introduce a new product into this crowded market.
Apparently nobody told Gaston Glock this. As described in a fresh book, Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun, Gaston just happened to be in the right place at the proper time back in 1980 and overhead two Austrian colonels discussing the Austrian military’s need for new pistols. Gaston then did what worthwhile product manager would do, he went and talked with the client.
The customer in this case was the Austrian defense minister. The minister decided to allow Gaston to bid on the handgun contract. Gaston then had to create a product to market. acheter beretta 92 fs knew nothing about handguns so he went and bought his competitor’s products and proceeded to take them apart to be able to learn how to create a better product.
The gun that he finished up creating was nothing like the guns that were currently in the marketplace. The Glock 17 (so called because it was the 17th gun that Gaston made) was made out of industrial plastic which both made it lighter and much more resistant to corrosion. The handgun was also built out of several subgroups that managed to get easy to replace. Gaston won the handgun contract with the Austrian military.
How To Market A Gun In A Crowded Market
As we product managers are all too aware of, just having a better product will not assure your product of success and isn’t good enough to put on your product manager resume. If you actually want to capture a significant section of your market, you then are going to have to accomplish some serious marketing.
In the case of the Glock guns, it was Karl Walter who took the Glock to america. He faced an uphill battle getting this new and fairly ugly looking gun to be always a success. At the time, the Smith & Wesson company ruled the marketplace.
Walter did what any good product manager must do, he focused on getting the Glock to be looked at by people who were going to be buying a gun. He did this by getting the Glock to be featured in the October 1984 edition of the Soldier of Fortune magazine. He followed this up by getting Glocks used in product placements in both Hollywood films and television shows.
After the Glock was adopted by the likes of the Secret Service and the FBI the overall game was over. Glock had won. What Glock had shown is a carefully managed promotional campaign might help even a new product to enter a market and to capture a substantial market share.
What All Of This Means For You
You may not function as product manager for a firearm, however the story of the way the Glock handgun was created and what made it successful probably includes a story for you. Just because you are attempting to enter a crowed, more developed market doesn’t mean that you have to copy the products that are already being sold there.
Innovation is a word that is tossed around a whole lot these days, but it holds a special meaning for product managers. If we take the time to concentrate on what our customers’ real needs are before we start to define our product, then we have the real possibility of doing what Glock did and transforming our market. Almost sounds like this is a thing that you’d find in something manager job description, doesn’t it?
Just because you create a superior product doesn’t imply that the world is going to beat a path to your product management door. Instead, you are going to be the person who is responsible for ensuring the term gets out about how wonderful your product is. Follow the example that is directed at us by Glock and your product should have a shot at being successful.