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What is Product Management?
Product management is the process through which a business ensures that its product (or product ranges) are optimised for its given market, or markets. As well as developing new products to meet market demand, lever technological or design advances the company has recently made, this also involves managing existing products that are at a later stage of their product lifecycle.
Product management essentially accompanies a product from it being a concept to the marketplace, and throughout its time spent in the market place. The concept may be the brainchild of someone in the in-house product development team, or it may be a calculated response to the perceived needs and wants of the market. Product management generally interfaces with a few departments; product development or engineering, sales, and marketing. The exact remit of a product manager’s job varies, ranging from those which are largely sales roles to those which are more or less entirely devoted to new product development.
At Brand we deal with roles that sit within the middle of this spectrum – those which involve communicating messages about the products to the market or customers, and ensuring that the product being offered suits the needs of the market as a whole or individual customers.
Many businesses split the product management function into two, having both a product manager and a product marketing manager. The advantage of this is that the product manager can focus on the specifications of the product (those that are inherent in the product itself) whilst the product marketing manager develops and implements the strategy through which details about the product will be communicated to the market.
What does a Product Manager do?
To cover this most effectively, we will describe what a product manager would do should they be working in an organisation alongside a Product Marketing Manager. In an organisation which expected the Product Manager to work alone, then naturally they would most likely absorb many of the responsibilities of the Product Marketing Manager, although some or all of these may be the responsibility of the marketing department or a marketing communications department.
A product manager job will generally entail having responsibility for either a single product, or a range of products within a company’s portfolio. Even if they personally look after just one product, it is highly likely that there will be a need for them to liaise with other product managers to ensure consistency and eliminate duplication. The process detailed below is presuming a new product is being launched, however, aspects of this process will also be used to deal with either revitalising existing products or winding down or phasing them out.
The product manager will use insight collected from customers, members of the sales team and competitor research to align any potential decisions with what is required or desired within the market. With the requirements of the business (profitability, sustainability etc) and the requirements of the market taken into account, the product manager will then interface with product development or innovation teams to ascertain the best way to develop the product for the market.
At this stage, the questions such as those below will be asked:
- How will the product fit into the existing portfolio?
- Is the proposed usability the best it can be?
- Is the product something which can be produced completely in-house, or will it be necessary to purchase or partner in order to offer what is intended?
- What should the pricing of the product be?
- What collateral will be needed to market the product?
- What needs to be done internally to bring the product to market?
- Who needs to be involved, and who is responsible for what?
With these answered, and a clear plan in place, roadmaps will be drawn up, and it is then time for the next stage.
During this stage, it will be the product manager’s responsibility to ensure that every part of the process functions as it should, in the manner that it should. In their role as the ‘evangelist’ or ‘champion’ of the product, it is important that the product manager ensures messaging is consistent and thorough. They will be responsible for rolling out product plans, literature and any other collateral across the business, and ensuring everyone and every department involved is reading from the same sheet. During this stage, the product manager may also be liaising with customers to ensure any queries are answered, and any bespoke requirements are accommodated. As the final touches are put to the product’s development, there will be stages of testing in order to ensure all is in order.
With the launch of the product these processes will continue, and it is most likely there will be reviews at certain stages of the product’s development in order to ascertain what progress is being made, and if any revisions to the plan need to be made.
Throughout this time, the Product Marketing Manager will have been going through a similar process of strategy and planning followed by implementation. Prior to the product’s launch, they will have worked alongside the product manager or the development team in order to develop sales materials that present the USPs of the product in a form that is easily digestible by the target audience. They will also have spent time creating or maximising PR opportunities, making sure contacts within the trade (or consumer) press are aware of the product and its benefits. Depending on the scale of the company and the product, they may also be responsible for organising launch events. They will be the key point of contact for sales and customer service teams with regards to messaging, although more technical information may be required from someone closer to the development team in order to fulfil this function fully.
How much can Product Managers expect to earn?
The following average salaries for Product Manager jobs are taken from our Marketing Recruitment Review and Salary Survey 2016. We have also included average salaries across different industry sectors.
Please view our range of Product Manager jobs.