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What Does a Product Manager Do? Top 10 Things You Must Know!
On average, there are over 5,000 product manager jobs being listed on LinkedIn every day in 2022. Wondering why there is so much demand for this career path? According to Glassdoor, the average salary of a product manager in the US is $82,473 to $177,478 across companies. The average salary is 40K more than other jobs in the country! Most new-age companies have a clear and distinct role for product managers as they are aware of the benefits. Traditional companies too have started moving toward this; as per a report from UXcam, a fully optimized and experienced product manager could increase a company’s profits by more than 34%. So, what does a product manager do?
What does a product manager do?
The role of a manager, especially a product manager is not always set in stone. The day-to-day tasks vary based on the company. However, there are some basic responsibilities that all product managers have:
- Prioritize product release
- Manage and monitor the product life cycle
- Go-to-market strategy
- Stakeholder management
- Determine success metrics
- Collecting and incorporating feedback
- Defining product features
- Liaise between product team and leadership
- Create product roadmaps
Every product manager must understand the market, the needs of the customer, the capabilities of the engineering team, and the vision of the leadership. Keeping all these elements in mind, a product manager must chalk out a product strategy and roadmap that is sustainable, feasible, and affordable.
Note: Product management is not always about managing a physical product only. It could also refer to a service offered by the company
10 things you should know before entering the field of product management
#1: What is product management?
Every business offers either a product or service that the market needs. The business process of being able to plan, develop, tweak, launch, and manage the offerings of a company is known as product management. It is a role at the heart of an organization. Therefore, professionals in this process need to balance the delivery with utmost value keeping in mind what the customer wants, the price points, and the operational capabilities of the team.
#2: How to pitch innovative product ideas to the leadership?
What does a product manager do when he/she wishes to pitch a new product idea to the management? Here are the simple steps to follow:
- Start with the problem you are trying to solve and the need for such a product in the market
- Connect the product with the company’s larger vision
- Bring in data to substantiate the idea including projections, the cost involved, and estimated profits
- Highlight the Unique Selling Propositions (USP)
- Include the product roadmap and future as a part of the pitch
#3: What is the concept of product lifecycle?
Every product goes through four important and distinct stages during its lifetime from its conception till the time it is removed from the market. As a product manager, it is very important to understand these stages and where your product lies. This will help fix problems quickly and enhance the product offering too. product managers also determine advertising plans, price points, discounts, expansion to new markets, redesign, and much more. Here are the stages:
#4: How to determine the price of a product?
Similar to setting up a product strategy or roadmap, pricing too should be a collaborative effort. It is vital to understand what the ground reality is before settling on a price point. The leadership, marketing, sales, and finance teams too must share their inputs to ensure fair pricing. Product managers must gather the following information before determining the right pricing strategy:
- How much is a customer willing to pay?
- Are the competitor products priced similarly?
- Will there be a good profit margin?
- What is the positioning of the product in the market?
- Is the company’s long-term vision aligned with the product and pricing?
#5: Does consumer behavior impact products?
Product managers can and must harness customer behavioral data to help their organization make efficient, smart, and more profitable decisions when creating or updating products and services. There is a very delicate line between products that are innovative and those that are necessary. The evolution of data can offer product managers the opportunity to bolster their decisions and launch new products or update existing ones.
Here are a few consumer behavior aspects that can directly impact a product manager’s decision-making on a day-to-day basis:
- Find out how many users are gaining value from your existing products and how much revenue has this resulted in
- Accelerate the existing sales cycle by analyzing engagement and purchase patterns, especially by Product Qualified Leads (PQL)
- Deliver personalized promotions by working closely with the marketing team
#6: How to make products future-proof?
Continuous improvements are the only way product managers can protect their existing products from becoming stagnant and outdated. New products will keep entering the market to keep up with technological advancements and consumer requirements.
Firstly, keeping development costs and processes in mind, product managers need to plan for new products or update existing ones and make them ready for the future. This can only be done by seamlessly integrating digital tools with the product development process. Furthermore, encouraging your product team to continuously upskill and keep up with the latest trends is also vital to set your products apart from the competition.
#7: Can we improve existing products?
Firstly, developing a new product is an expensive affair. Even modest products cost US $30,000 on average. On the other hand, your existing products are already in the middle of the product lifecycle. They have a certain degree of brand identity and customer loyalty too. Therefore, boosting an existing product or service makes a lot more sense in most cases than starting development from scratch. But, how can this be done:
- Revisit the packaging
- Change the appearance
- Create product segments and help customers easily differentiate
- Provide user manuals
- Integrate with the latest technology
- Edit and update marketing collateral
- Rephrase the USPs to better suit the current market conditions
#8: How is product management different from project management?
While the two are completely different job functions, in most cases, they work closely to help organizations succeed. Product managers are strategic thinkers and planners who set the vision, goals, and roadmap of a product. This could be an existing product or a new one. A project manager on the other hand is more of a hands-on doer. They lead projects and make these goals a reality. Their main objective is to oversee ongoing projects and make teams function efficiently.
#9: What is the role of technology in product management?
Product managers define products and help potential customers understand the features better. They do this via product demonstrations, presentations, and marketing collateral. Therefore, keeping up with the latest technological development and trends is vital because product managers focus on business issues, strategy, and the product’s role in the market not only in the current world but also in the future. Depending on the kind of product and company, product managers need to speak the language of the product developers. While coding is not a mandatory requirement, it is a good-to-have skill, especially in tech-based product companies. Moreover, product managers must work closely with cross-functional teams and continuously improve their product line as technology booms if they wish to compete and stay ahead of the curve.
#10: What are the soft skills needed to excel in the field of product management?
The five most important soft skills that product managers must possess are:
- Critical thinking and problem solving
- Openness to feedback
- Time management
- Communication skills
A product manager’s product ideas and presentations are only as good if they have the ability to make things happen. Moreover, for that, they need a good mix of hard and soft skills.
Ready to enter the world of product management?
Glassdoor has ranked product management as the 10th best career path in the United States in 2022. It is one of the most lucrative careers with a promising future and thousands of new jobs every day.
Are you wondering how to become a product manager? Check out our step-by-step guide that will walk you through the process from start to finish.
Your next step would be to check out this product management program at Columbia Business School! The program aims to empower working professionals with frameworks for developing their own product strategies. Also, the faculty help participants develop techniques for more efficient cross-functional collaboration across all stages of the product life cycle. The learnings can be applied to young startups as well as multinational companies. This 6-week product management program covers all facets of product management from strategy application across the product lifecycle to setting up an efficient roadmap that enables business growth and success. Emeritus offers a variety of product management online courses from top universities around the world.
By Manasa Ramakrishnan
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