When you get dressed today, don’t forget to put on your hat. You know, the one you wear at the office. Which one, you ask? That’s what I wanted to hear. Good managers usually wear several. In theory, it’s why you’re a manager. You can do many things better than most people in your organization.
Each hat, however, comes with responsibilities and oversight, some of which isn’t directly under your jurisdiction, yet must be attended to in order to do your job well. If you begin to think like a general manager, embracing a broader view, you’ll find that wearing many hats, interchangeably, and even concurrently, will become easier. Additionally, the perspective will help you to deliver improved products with a greater chance for success and earn you leadership status beyond your current position.
A few years ago, when I was working on marketing for a Web analytics product, we discovered there was no bid management product available to help us with our own bid process. With this new paradigm, we created what we needed and brought a bid management product to market. If we had been wearing blinders created by our defined roles we might not have found that successful solution.
Thinking in a “Big Picture” format, whether you’re a product manager or marketing manager, just makes sense. As referenced in my previous two blogs, a humble but powerful little book titled 42 Rules of Product Management delivered this wisdom during my transition at Adobe from digital marketing manager to product management. Simple, doable, and logical, here are the things to consider in your own personal choice of headwear.
1) Market Dynamics: What impact do you want your product to have in the market? Does that sync with the expected impact as things stand? Is that market in a growth stage, or is it diminishing? Is it a new market or an established one? What is your best guess for the coming year(s) regarding a change in that status? Such considerations can shed light on current product management plans and marketing strategies, helping to streamline and fine tune results.
2) Your Customer: Define who will buy your product; then define who will buy your competitor’s product. Find out why customers choose you, and then find out why they don’t. Do you want to capture that market? Then get down to business and figure out how to get it.
3) Your Business Model: Consider your current projects and understand what each product or service provides the customer in terms of value or satisfaction. Will this product or service be profitable? Why, and more importantly, how?
4) Your Price Point and Your Product’s Value: Is your product or service worth the price? And, if it is a new offering, is there a possibility of shifting revenue from existing products or services to this new kid on the block? Is that acceptable? Is that avoidable?
5) Product Life Cycle: Does your product have a natural life cycle? Products or services become obsolete either due to market demand or simple depletion. Plan for inflection points from industry and technology, and consider how to gracefully exit a market before becoming obsolete.
Overall, consider how to deliver a great customer experience on all touchpoints. Does your product or service fulfill its promise, and more importantly, is your organization set up to deliver? Make sure that if you build it, people will not only come, but will hang out a while and enjoy the purchase.