Whether you are just launching your career or simply looking to hone your skills in product management, it’s important to learn some of the fundamentals. The basics are often overlooked amidst the finer details and the daily demands, so taking a step back and considering some of the core guidelines can help you excel as a product manager in any environment. Here are some of the things that you should consider as you work to improve your skills and solidify your position.
Understanding Your Target User’s Needs Focuses Product Management
In order to effectively design, support, improve or market any product, you need to understand the target users, the problem they have that is solved by the product and the unique needs of those users. When you don’t understand user needs, you often miss the nuances of features and functions that could take a product from moderate sales to unmatched demand. You only get one chance to make an impression with that product, so make sure it hits the mark by researching your target users thoroughly and focusing on their needs in design, development and presentation.
Prioritizing Your Roadmap Improves Product Management
A comprehensive roadmap is an important part of a product manager’s role for many reasons. Not only does it clearly define the customer needs, but it also helps to plan out the design, development, prototype and production cycles as well. This way, you have a clear visual picture of the production flow so that you can monitor progress, encourage success, and focus on customer satisfaction and retention through quality product releases.
A quality product management strategy should define the market precisely. Avoid trying to promote a product for “everyone” because then you lose the attraction of a specially designed product. In addition, be careful not to narrow your audience too much or you may restrict your potential target market. Further, your roadmap should also clarify how the product fits the company’s brand identity.
Finally, the roadmap should identify the routes to market so that you know where the product will go and how it will get there. These are all critical elements to ensure a successful product launch.
Knowing the Difference Between Users and Customers Benefits Product Management
One common mistake that product managers make is failing to recognize that there is sometimes a difference between your product users and your customers. Your customers are the people who specifically come into the store or shop online to buy the product in question. The users, on the other hand, may not actually be the people who buy the product.
For example, a product that’s marketed to teen girls as the user may actually have the teenager’s parents as the customer. Further, products marketed to men as the user may be more frequently purchased by women to give them as gifts, making women the more common customer even though men are the users.
Success in product management means recognizing the difference between the two so that you can tailor marketing messages and avenues correctly. If you have different users than customers, you should ideally market to both. That way, the user can develop interest and approach the customer, or the customer can come to the determination on their own from exposure to the marketing materials. In either case, you can’t adequately design the product for the right user nor market the product effectively if you don’t recognize when your user and your customer could be two different people.
Identifying Your Competitors Creates Informed Product Management
No matter what product you’re bringing to the marketplace, there are going to be competitors somewhere. As the product manager, it’s your job to identify those competitors as early in the process as possible so that you can better identify any potential conflicts, hurdles or pitfalls that could get in the way. You’ll find that there are a few key types of competitors to consider.
Direct competitors are those competitors that are directly targeting the same customers with a similar product designed to solve the same problem. These competitors are your biggest concern in product management because they can capture a significant portion of your market share. Be attentive to these competitors and channel your product development, marketing and product pricing efforts to set your company and your product apart.
Indirect competition isn’t quite as significant a concern as direct competition, but it can still be a threat to your company’s market share. Indirect competitors are those competitors that are solving the same problem for your customers but in a different way. The solution they offer is vastly different but essentially achieves the same purpose.
Potential competition isn’t a serious concern in the immediate timeframe but should never fall off your radar completely. Potential competition refers to companies that offer products to the same customers, but their products are vastly different and they are targeting different problems.
Establishing a Minimum Viable Product Simplifies Product Management
The minimum viable product is the first functional prototype of a product that’s eligible for market or, at the very least, for a focus group study. These products are the first pass and are open to modification and evolution as necessary based on user and customer feedback. This is an important place to start as a product manager because it allows you to comprehensively and effectively evaluate the success and functionality of the product in its earliest stages and shape the final product accordingly.
Assessing Product Performance Refines Product Management
Once the product has reached the marketplace, it’s important to assess the metrics for production, cost, market delivery and consumer reception. This helps you determine the successes and failures of the development plan so that you can improve upon it.
Understanding how to be an effective product manager does not have to be overwhelming or complicated. These are some of the basic considerations to help you establish your product management approach. Contact Benjamin Naderi for information about product development and management as well as services related to branding, customer experience and business consultation.