If you belong to a target audience for your product yourself, product development becomes way more easy. First, you intimately understand the value proposition your product is delivering, second, you feel in your gut what's important and what can you do without, and third, you know what language you should use in order for your message to come across to your audience. The primary target for Zemanta's Content Ads DSP product are brand managers at companies such as Intel, Kraft, and Allstate. When I learned recently that I as a product manager share the common origin with the brand managers I got very excited by the proposition that I'm actually building a product for a person quite similar to my self, a cousin of sorts, who shares a similar passion for the brand/product he or she is building as I feel myself for the product we're building.
I've tried a similar approach before. I actually kicked off this blog because I wanted to put myself in the shoes of a nascent blogger when we were developing the BlogSpire product. The other reason I've started to blog was to better understand the needs and whims of the users of Zemanta Editorial Network. While neither of these products managed to gain the expected traction among the users, becoming a user also myself helped me substantially in understanding what were the deficiencies of those products and why it didn't make sense to invest more effort into them. Ever since we kicked off development of Zemanta Content Ads DSP product I've had troubles connecting with our target customers. I hope the newly established family connection will provided a bridge in understanding and much needed push towards a successful product.