When I first read the story of the Amazon Whisperer in the Fast Company Magazine, I was intrigued.
Chaim Pikarski and his company, C&A Marketing, seemed to have cracked the code how to be the magic fairy that taps her wand and makes all your wishes come true.
Finding products for your customers
The business model is surprisingly simple and genius at the same time. It is right out of marketing genius Seth Godin's book: Don't find customers for your products, find products for your customers.
Amazon.com has 40 million users. 40% of which are Prime members and spend approximately $1,340 per year, compared to $708 per year for non-Amazon Prime customers, according to Huffington Post. And thousands are leaving reviews every day.
C&A Marketing taps into those customer reviews to create products that customers are looking for. The company employs dozens of buyers that specialize in a specific area (e.g., beach products or cellular accessories).
Each of those specialized buyers scouts through customer reviews on Amazon to find features that customers wish the desired product had, but does not yet offer.
Once a product gap is discovered and researched, the buyer can create a brand around it, and hire a manufacturer, mostly in China to build the product. The number ordered can vary from dozens to truckloads. If the product sells, it will be renewed. If not, it will be retired or modified.
With this business model, Chaim Pikarski's business makes 9 figure revenue and growing at a 30% rate. He operates out of a 150,000-square-foot headquarters in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey.
Can this be called Inbound Product Management?
Product Management encompasses the entire process from product conception, product planning, forecasting, and production, or marketing and finally the retirement of a product. This process is often divided in Product Development and Marketing.
There are different approaches to product management, for example agile. Agile product management is an iterative and incremental method to design, develop and market products in a highly highly flexible and interactive manner.
Inbound Marketing refers to marketing activities that attract visitors to the offer rather than the marketer going out to present the offer to a potential prospect. It earns the attention of customers by offering educational content and employing lead nurturing techniques.
There are definitely elements of Inbound Marketing in this approach to product management, for example the extensive focus on solving the buyer persona's needs. But since it exclusively is guided by customer input, I would argue it is agile product management more than inbound.
But no matter what methodology you use, you still have to understand your market and customer (buyer personas) needs, design the products to address those needs while meeting financial or other goals at the same time. You also need to ensure commercial success of products and manage each product through its entire life cycle.