How a Product Manager Manages the Value of his Products

What is the Domain of Responsibility of a Product Manager

As we understand like in every profession there are bad, good, and very good professionals. What separates a successful PM is to manage well his products. To do that he should first understand what areas of the product he should manage. Let’s go and see some initial facts first about what is a product:

According to OPP, a product is  ” A good, idea, method, object or service which serves a need or satisfies a want. It has a combination of tangible and intangible attributes (benefits, features, functions, uses) that a seller offers a buyer for purchase.”

The tangible and intangible nature of products we can be understood if we think of the Revolut app. We download the product and we generate financial transactions, but when we need to speak to customer service because of an issue this is intangible. The notion sounds simple, but it is not because it is very hard to understand as a PM what set of tangible and intangible products will bring the necessary value to your customers. The value-driven management of products is another milestone to a successful PM. According to OPP: “Value is the ratio of perceived benefits and their perceived costs (both tangible and intangible)”.

What your customers perceive as value is another story and we can see it on the below diagram:

Whole Product Concept

 Source: University of North Carolina, Greensboro, “Week3_Readings_1_and_2” Crossing the Chasm, and Beyond

Everyone speaks about product features. But features are only a part of the overall scope of every product. As we can see from the graph above, customers expect all the 3 areas from the product, core product, actual, and augmented. At the core can we can see how this product solves their needs and wants which is the basic benefits. But customers care also about the value of the augmented product which includes many more attributes than the core. When the product will satisfy their needs they will expand their wants on more items as we can see in the augmented area and here comes the intangible part which is all the services that accompany the core product. What your customers perceive as a good customer care and what your customer care department tinks they provide? It goes without saying that a successful product should combine all these areas to deliver something good.

We need a Product Manager and a Product Marketing Manager to do that.

As we understand, the product has a lot of legs and we need to manage all of them if we want to be successful. A lot of companies break the roles of a Product Manager to a Product Marketing Manager also. Let’s see below the activities where a PM and a PMM should focus on in order to have a successful product:

What a Product Manager is doing:

  • He owns the strategy – The Product manager is the one who owns the product roadmap and manages the product lifecycle. If there are more products related to the roadmap the product owner owns the portfolio and he should always be aligned at a strategic level with the objective of the organization.
  • Market Expert – The Product Manager is the one who should understand the market that the product will be released better than anyone and he should know the customer needs. In other terms, he should be the voice of the customer (VoC)
  • Business case development and realization – this is where the product manager elaborates on the business case and the reason for developing the product.
  • Presents needs – The product owner should be the first advocate on why we need this product and what needs are covered.
  • Ensures valuable and differentiated products – creating a product nowadays is challenging for the reason that it is hard to compete with similar products in the category. There is much competition and added value is what we should aim for.
  • Makes feature, schedule, and cost trade-offs – for a successful product the Product manager should always prioritize features, should work with the timelines and he should know what to release to have a successful product. This entails constant trade-offs with different stakeholders in and out of his company.
  • Responsible for value delivery in the business ecosystem – everything around the product is about value delivery. This is what the customers need and this is what every stakeholder inside the company needs.

A Product Manager is pulled in 2 directions

For every professional role, there should be clarity in responsibilities – this is a valid statement as every professional needs clarity with his role. This doesn’t necessarily happen with the Product manager as he constantly needs to balance 2 directions. The one is Engineering and the other is the marketing part. From the business point of view, the PM should be a market expert, the voice of the customer and do the competitive analysis. He should create a positioning strategy for every market if there is more than one. He should create the business strategy, manage the portfolio, and create the market requirements. On the other side, from the technology point of view he should be a product and technology expert, take over the designing and scoping, understand the architectural vision, defect management, feature definition, and be best at usability. Now, these two domains sound like a lot for a Product Manager to handle, but believe me, they are achievable f you want to be a successful PM.

Now let’s see the role of the Product Marketing Manager to understand the difference. The PMM is responsible for

  • Strategy – How the overall product can be successful in the market, responsible for product launches, ongoing marketing support, and create a compelling reason to buy around the product.
  • Marketing expert – he is the one to create a competitive analysis, product pricing, ensures message consistency, works with MarCom.
  • Support sales – Demand generation, sales tools, and training.
  • Guides marketing programs – positioning, value proposition, messaging, feature/benefit, unique selling proposition, balance revenues with program costs.

Like the Product Manager, the Product Marketing Manager is also pulled into two directions.

From a Business side he is responsible as a marketing expert, market strategy, create key messages and content for collateral, website, press releases, ads, sales tools etc, new product launches, marketing program definitions, and as a sales PMM, for current product revenue focus, sales call focus, marketing programs operational role, and technical product expert.

Ang again, this s a high-level overview of a PM and PMM. But understanding what entails having a successful career and successful products in your portfolio you should know the basics.

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