What is marketing, I disassembled in the last article. We now turn to product management. What is the difference between marketing manager, product manager and project manager? I think that it is best to reveal the concept of product management through the explanation of the difference between these related roles. It is important to remember that we are talking about roles, since they can often be combined in one person.
Table of Contents
- Product Manager vs Marketing Manager
- Product and Marketing Conflict
- Conflict resolution
- Responsibilities and KPI of Product Manager
- Product Manager’s skills
- Project Manager vs Product Manager vs Product Owner
- How to become a Product Manager
Product Manager vs Marketing Manager
Best of all, the separation of these roles is seen in businesses that have little to do with IT. The market for the acquisition of housing, cars, food – rarely you can see in them that the marketer had the opportunity to influence the product. The only thing that is in his power is a one-time competent research of the market, the audience and the creation of proposals on what product characteristics will help the company to grow / earn more, under what positioning strategy it is more appropriate to create a product. In theses, the difference between these roles can be expressed as follows.
- Marketing manager examines the product to influence the audience.
- The product manager studies the audience to influence the product.
- The marketing manager is looking for which linking message-channel-audience will most effectively convey the value of the product.
- The product manager is looking for what the most valuable features can provide the product of regular users.
- For a marketer, the challenge is to be able to sell a product that is absolutely no different from the product of its competitors in its applied properties.
- For a product specialist, the challenge is to create a product that users will start using instead of old ones.
- The marketer competes primarily with the messages of competitors.
- The product manager is competing with competitors’ products.
Both the marketer and the product manager communicate with the target audience and the team that creates the product, but in different proportions and for different purposes.
- The marketer comes to the team that produces the product, asks the right questions, listens to the answers, and then goes to come up with messages for users based on this information.
- The product manager comes to the users, asks the right questions, listens and then goes on setting tasks for the team that is working on the product.
Product and Marketing Conflict
In the Growth Handbook, Keren Peacock, Operations Director at Intercom, provides an interesting example from his own experience. When he became vice president of marketing at Payroll, he learned that the company works, what does not, and came to the conclusion that the best use of the budget that he was allocated would be to hire a grocery team to improve the customer activation process.
This example is interesting, that its management looked at it with surprise and misunderstanding. As if the marketer began to do what he was not supposed to. This misunderstanding is natural for companies in which the product and marketing department consider each other to be competitors, and they believe that they should be engaged in different tasks.
The conflict lies in the fact that an entrepreneur, a top manager every month, a year must choose what to invest money in – experimenting with a new functionality or monetizing an already functioning functionality. And when the product and marketing team interacts little and budgets are assigned separately, this is a problem.
Therefore, there must be one person who coordinates the activities of the product and marketing teams.
I will cite a few quotes from Peter Thiel’s course at Stanford University.
<…>Marketing people can’t do viral marketing. You don’t just build a product and then choose viral marketing. There is no viral marketing add-on. Anyone who advocates viral marketing in this way is wrong and lazy. People romanticize it because, if you do it right, you don’t have to spend money on ads or salespeople. But viral marketing requires that the product’s core use case must be inherently viral. Dropbox, for example, let’s people share files. Implicit is that there’s someone—a potential new user—to share with. Spotify does this with its social music angle. As people use the product, they encourage other people to use it as well. But it’s not just a “tell your friends” button that you can add-on post-product.<…>
Peter Thiel, Class 9, source – http://blakemasters.com/post/22405055017/peter-thiels-cs183-startup-class-9-notes-essay
<…>The number one reason that we pass on entrepreneurs we’d otherwise like to back is focusing on product to the exclusion of everything else. We tend to cultivate and glorify this mentality in the Valley. We’re all enamored with lean startup mode. Engineering and product are key. There is a lot of genius to this, and it has helped create higher quality companies. But the dark side is that it seems to give entrepreneurs excuses not to do the hard stuff of sales and marketing. Many entrepreneurs who build great products simply don’t have a good distribution strategy. Even worse is when they insist that they don’t need one, or call no distribution strategy a “viral marketing strategy.”<…>
Marc Andreessen, Class 10, source – http://blakemasters.com/post/22660214207/peter-thiels-cs183-startup-class-10-notes
Thiel says that the viral effect should be incorporated in the product’s functionality itself, Andressen emphasizes that even for products that have such an effect incorporated without an application of distribution efforts is necessary.
In contradiction of these two fragments from Thiel’s course, the truth can be expressed by theses.
- Even if you have laid down viral growth triggers in a product, you critically need to invest in distribution (delivering product messages to a target audience). Business is not art. It is important who ultimately survives and monopolizes the market, and not who has the most perfect product, either from a technical or aesthetic point of view.
- Even if you have a perfectly tuned distribution mechanism, it is critical for you to constantly improve the product (and even improving the product, you can skip a lot, as Facebook missed the growth of Instagram, and solved the problem only by buying it).
Responsibilities and KPI of Product Manager
At different stages of product development, they are different. Globally, it can be ROI (return on investment), ARR (annual recurring revenue) or MRR (monthly recurring revenue), growth of paying users, etc. By decomposing each of the global metrics, we move on to the following.
- Is the key value of the product found?
- How many percent of users stay with us on the n-day day?
- Did you find an aha moment / trigger that ensures that the user senses the key value of the product and moves to the regular users segment?
- How many percent of new users are familiar with the key features of the product?
- Were triggers found that motivate users to share the product with others?
- How many percent of users share the product with others
- Is a business model with a positive unit economy and growth potential found?
Product Manager’s skills
This is my subjective list. This is not about owning specific tools, but critical skills without which success is not exactly possible.
1. To build an adequate picture of the world about the situation on the market and its own resources.
2. To build the process of the team work for the experiments.
3. To communicate to the team members what the ultimate goal of all the tasks performed.
4. To master the basics of statistics and remember about cognitive distortions that lead to errors in data interpretation.
5. To be able to put yourself in the user’s place and look at each version of your product through the eyes of a beginner.
6. To be able to maintain impartiality to any of your ideas and realized functions.
7. Learn to make decisions, NOT BECAUSE, BUT IN ORDER TO.
Project Manager vs Product Manager vs Product Owner
Product Owner is a role in the SCRUM framework. I will not consider it in detail.
The main question is: how does the product manager differ from the project manager and is it different? Yes, it is different.
In his course “Personal Management Art”, Vladimir Tarasov identifies three roles that must be present for a successful product launch: the godfather of the product, a fan of the product, and manager.
The product fan is the product manager. The main task of a product fan is to understand or quickly find out through experiments which product characteristics will ensure market success for him.
The manager is the project manager. His main task is to implement the product manager’s idea as quickly and cheaply as possible, effectively managing the team.
The product manager knows what to do, the project manager knows how to do it.
Product Manager can be estimated by:
- how quickly and cheaply it finds a product-market fit for a new product;
- how much he can improve any of the above metrics for any existing product.
Project Manager can be estimated by:
- how effectively, under his leadership, the team performs the tasks that the product manager sets for it.
How to become a Product Manager
There are many paths to the position of product manager. Below is just my personal algorithm. The order of the steps is not important.
1. Learn to think in a certain way. Whatever tasks in the company you perform it is important to see:
- what kind of product do you personally produce;
- how is it related to the product of the team / company.
2. Read the book by Peter Thiel “From 0 to 1”.