Positioning projects for user value

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A chat with a friend of Project raised an interesting question: how do you get close to the customer? 

He recalled the Nike example. Tasked with finding out why young men of a certain age had stopped buying Nike trainers, a branding expert went to live the life of a consumer. After three days of watching and listening he reported back. It was the girlfriends fault. She had grown tired with jocks and wanted a man who wore shoes not trainers. 

From this Nike drew two conclusions. It needed to rebrand and reach out to a more discerning audience and it needed to impress those with the ability to influence and direct the decision-making process. 

In project circles the PM uses branding and marketing to position their project or programme to attract resources or sponsor buy-in. But what happens beyond this? How do you position a project so that the project recipient ie the consumer sees value from using it? 

This is exactly the dilemma facing the smart meter project

The Government-backed roll out of meters to every household in the UK lists a number of intended benefits: no more estimated bills, efficiency savings for energy suppliers, smarter use of energy, lower bills, lower emissions etc. 

All good stuff, but none of it any good if you cant persuade people to take part. Its not clear how the DoE will stimulate this behaviour change, Margaret Hodge, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said. 

This goes way beyond traditional change management, and raises questions about the scope and reach of the PMs talents. 

A good PM acts as an ambassador, selling the benefits inside and outside the organisation, but do we really understand what really makes a brand desirable?

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Posted by James Simons on 21st Jul 2011

About the Author

James Simons is publishing manager at APM. He has previously edited APM’s Project magazine for 3+ years and has a background in trade journalism. He has worked in communications and managed both print and digital publications.

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