The Product Marketing Manager as a Plate Spinner Extraordinaire

I really liked this article on the seven characteristics of a great marketer by fellow marketing blogger Daphne Rose. Of the seven characteristics Daphne noted, I really liked the analogy she drew between product marketers and spinners… plate spinners, that is.


Daphne Rose wrote, “Like the plate spinners on the old Ed Sullivan Show, great marketers are gifted time managers. It’s second nature for them to keep everything in motion – successfully.”

I am old enough (barely old enough – I swear! 😄) to vaguely recall watching plate spinner Erich Brenn on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1969, available in this YouTube video:

Thinking further about the idea of the product marketer as a plate spinner, I came up with some more observations I hope you like and ring true…

Product marketing managers understand project priorities and contingencies.  Taking time management to the next level, effective product marketers and managers will bring a project to a stopping point where it requires further input or feedback from others, leveraging that time to make progress on the next most important project.

Product marketing managers engage in serial focusing while avoiding multitasking.  Unlike “multitasking” in which only a fraction of your Chess-GM-Simul-Matchattention is ever really devoted to any particular task, “serial focusing,” like plate spinning, requires you to pay full attention to the particular project at hand.  Of course, you are aware your available time is limited, so you discipline yourself to focus on it and take action. Another analogy that conveys the idea of “serial focusing” even better than plate spinning is a chess grandmaster playing a simultaneous exhibition.

Product marketers and managers don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.  Did you notice how Erich Brenn slightly botched his initial little trick in which he tried to flip a row of forks into a row of glasses?  The show (or “shew,” as Ed Sullivan would’ve said) must go on!

It would have been quite a mistake to try the trick again immediately – he grabbed his dropped forks and successfully repeated the trick later after re-spinning those bowls.  All this was a small quibble, considering his big finish!

A great product marketer makes good decisions as to what plates are worth spinning.  Erich Brenn would not try to spin an oblong turkey platter for obvious reasons. Are there any marketing projects that have you running around that fall in the ‘turkey platter’ category?

Rather than sink any more time to such a project in its current form, step back and try to refashion it into a workable one that will yield the results you and your colleagues are looking for… in other words, replace that platter with a round plate!


2 thoughts on “The Product Marketing Manager as a Plate Spinner Extraordinaire

  1. Mike, how lovely to be quoted. Your blog is just wonderful – I can tell I’ll be spending a lot of time here. Great post – can’t wait to see more. Keep up the great work.


    1. Thank you Daphne! And again, great analogy between effective marketers and ‘plate spinners.’

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