The truth about product managers’ common misconceptions
Today we are talking about what may sound like fundamentals of product management, but many product managers have misconceptions about these key topics.
To help us with this is Grant Hunter, who co-founded with Steve Johnson a peer community and coaching group called Product Growth Leaders. I’ve been a participant in the community for a few months, and recently I noticed Grant posting articles on key topics that will help you as well.
Grant is a product coach and strategy advisor who helps companies and product organizations get more market-focused in their products and strategies. Previously, he was a trainer at Pragmatic Marketing.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[5:40] What is a product?
A product is a solution for a person’s problem, including all the components necessary to fully solve that problem for the personas who experience the product. You need to understand the problem of the specific persona you’re marketing to. Customers think of their entire experience, including buying the product and any support they talk to, as part of the product.
[9:47] Do you make a distinction between new product work (sometimes called innovation) and current product work?
Innovation is about creating value. In the lifecycle curve, if you’re not always adding incremental new value, you’ve plateaued and are not innovating. You can add new value through continuous innovation (adding more value within your current products’ lifecycles) or discontinuous innovation (new products or technology). You use the same processes to make a new product or a new version of a product. It’s all innovation and adding value to a customer.
[14:45] How do you think about personas?
A persona is someone with the same need and same value profile. Many of us have the same problem, but we don’t have the same value profile. The persona identifies motivation. Think about your customers and what they value and are willing to pay more for. For example, my wife and I will pay more for an electrician who is neat and cleans up afterward. We have a persona for a product that is clean and organized. Our persona is built around our value profile and what’s important to us in our experience with the product. Personas help you understand people’s value profiles and motivations and why they’re making their decisions.
Many organizations try to make a product for everyone. They have a product that will help you save and share photos, and they say it’s for everyone who takes pictures, but no one is going to find their product. Instead, they could make it specifically for first-time moms sharing pictures of their new babies, and once they figure that out, they can go on to the next market site. In the bowling pin approach, knock over one pin first, then figure out where to go next.
[19:27] How do you determine if a new feature is valuable to your customers?
The Kano model helps you determine if a new feature is valuable to customers, ignored by customers, or distracting to customers.
You can only understand the customer’s value equation by going out and listening to them. They’re the only ones who understand and know it. You can’t prioritize features based on your own hypotheses or assumptions. You must use data in the market and conversations with customers.
[25:35] What is product management?
Product management is management of the product. That means increasing value to the company and the market. Product management is the role that makes sure you’re always doing the right thing. Every company has more ideas than resources. Clayton Christensen found that three out of four new product initiatives never make it to market or never turn a profit. Product management needs to make sure you do the right things and aren’t trying to be all things to all people. Understand the persona; their problems, value equations, and motivations; and your differentiation. Align the persona and market with your differentiation and product. Product managers also create value for the team. Everybody wants to work on a winner product, and it can be demoralizing to work on an end-of-life product. Product managers may need to make the decision to sunset the product and start on the next product. Product managers think about value for the customer, the company, and the team.
Action Guide: Put the information Grant shared into action now. Click here to download the Action Guide.
- Join Grant Hunter and Steve Johnson’s free community of Product Growth Leaders
- Read articles from Grant and Steve
“Marketing…is the whole business seen from the point of view of its final result, that is, from the customer’s point of view.” – Peter Drucker
Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.