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Is there demand for product management cartoons? A simple test.

For the first time ever, I single handedly created an animated short.  Our heroine, “The Product manager,” tries to explain her job  to a co-worker.  The video is supposed to highlight challenges PMs deal with and poke a little fun at ourselves and maybe even have a piece of advice or two.  But what is really interesting about this video?

I made this cartoon in under two hours and for less than three dollars with a service called xtranormal.  And when I say made, I mean I wrote the script, created an xtranormal account, learned their tool, picked my characters, and “shot my animation” sequence.

[Small side note: If you’ve watched the video, I do have to give credit to Ivan Chalif, The Productologist, for the idea that PMs may not really be the CEO of their product.]

Now, contrast that to another great product management cartoon I just saw from Accept Software. The series is called “Wally’s World” and the first installment is called “Wally Innovates in a New Way.”  It’s a great piece of work with an entertaining storyline and high production value.  But to get this level of quality and craftsmanship probably cost between $5,000 – $10,000 and required a team of professionals three weeks to complete.

Xtranormal let me get my animation to market about 20x faster and for about 100% less cost.

  • Is the animation as rich as Wally’s World?  No.
  • Are the voices natural sounding as in Wally’s World?  No.
  • Is my video anywhere as nice as Wally’s Word?  Absolutely not!
  • But is it good enough?  Just maybe.

Xtranormal could be a real disrupter in the market place, just as blogs have been to traditional media, and provide an alternative to budget strapped product marketers as well.  In 2009, I wrote an article entitled “Product Management on a Dime”.  This might be called Product Marketing on a dime.  Currently the quality gap between the two solutions is high, but that will likely shrink over time.

To be clear and knowing the team at Accept, they have likely done their research and spent their time and money wisely in producing their slick animated marketing piece.  Our target audiences and what we are trying to accomplish are both quite different.  In my case, a low fidelity animation makes sense.   This will not always be the case.

I have a theory.  I think our profession has grown to the point in sophistication and size where there is an audience for product management animations.  I could have spent a month and $10,000 to see if I was right.  Instead, I was able to test my theory quickly and for hardly any cost.  If the animation gets a lot of views (over 700  and counting), I’ll create more shows.  If not, well, it hasn’t cost much time or money, and I’ll just stick to blogging.  The lesson to learn here and question to ask ourselves when developing any new concept is “What’s the fastest and least expensive way to validate our hypothesis?” Sometimes the path might be shorter than you think.

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One Response to Is there demand for product management cartoons? A simple test.

  1. Brian Lawley Feb 17, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

    This reminds me of the early days of desktop publishing and also Youtube. All of a sudden people had the ability to create media in ways they never could before.

    The result was a lot of good creations and a LOT of horrible creations. But the other thing that happened is that the price people were willing to pay professionals dropped as well.

    A great example of this is the 42 Rules of Product Management video series that we are doing on our 280productmanagement Youtube channel – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnD_0q6qA68. Would we have spent a lot of money to produce these videos professionally? Probably not. But for the cost of a $300 video camera and imovie we were able to create the whole series.

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