How To Be A Good Product Manager

Tips on product management and product marketing for product managers. By Jeff Lash

Choose promotions for effectiveness, not coolness

Posted on February 4, 2008 by Jeff Lash · 4 Comments

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If you want to be a bad product manager, make sure to only do “cool” and “viral” marketing to get your message out. You need those “whiz-bang” promotional ideas that will get people’s attention. Flashy stunts, guerrilla marketing, and social campaigns are the only way to get your word out. Print advertising, direct mail, trade shows — those “old media” techniques are just not appropriate in today’s world and any product marketing manager with any self-respect will avoid them at all costs.

If you want to be a good product manager, put your efforts into promotional campaigns that will impact your key marketing metrics. Though there are plenty of ways to draw attention to your product, good product managers should instead focus on defining the key performance indicators for marketing initiatives and working with the product marketing manager to choose the most appropriate ways to meet those goals. In some cases, that may mean using newer and “innovative” promotional methods; in others, that may mean that more traditional approaches will be best.

Just like other areas within product management, good product managers focus on “what” the marketing campaign needs to accomplish, not “how” to accomplish it. (See Take responsibility for what, not how.) Though it may be tempting to dictate specific marketing tactics, those decisions are best left to the product marketing manager. As a product manager, you should of course be involved in some major decisions, much like you should be involved in major decisions about the design and architecture and technical setup of the product. However, good product managers ensure that overall goals, objectives, and strategy are clear, while the various team members responsible for each area — engineering, marketing, etc. — are given the direction and leeway to make decisions.

Rather than spending time trying to push specific marketing tactics, product managers can be more effective — and help their product marketing managers to be more effective — by focusing on key performance metrics. Ultimately, everything about product management and marketing comes down to limited resources. Product managers and product marketing managers must focus on the most valuable initiatives given the resources available. In order to make a decision about what is most valuable, managers need something to measure against. Are you trying to increase the number of sales or the amount of total revenue? Do you want a large number of warm leads or a small number of hot ones? Would you prefer visitors sign up for our newsletter or contact us for more information? What is your measure of a conversion? What is the goal of a campaign? Only once you answer these questions can you then decide what will best help you meet those goals.

While it may seem desirable to try out new approaches to advertising and promotion, any marketing tactic should be chosen for its benefit relative to its cost, and its overall effectiveness. Good product managers help define marketing goals and work with product marketing managers to determine the best approaches to help meet those goals.

Translations available:

How To Be A Good Product Manager features tips on product management and product marketing, written by Jeff Lash (@jefflash on Twitter), Vice President and Group Director for the Product Management and Portfolio Marketing research and advisory services at SiriusDecisions.

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4 responses so far ↓

  • gregggallagher // Feb 4, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    Jeff:

    Great post. As we’ve discussed earlier, your paost assumes that the product marketing function is separate from, but driven by, the product management function. Am wondering how often the two functions are merged, or even have the roles reversed…….

  • Jeff Lash // Feb 4, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    Gregg — Marty Cagan at the Silicon Valley Product Group wrote a great article called Product Management vs. Product Marketing that discusses the different dynamics between the two roles and addresses the issue of merging the two functions.

  • Ab.Nabeel Nudrat // Feb 17, 2008 at 7:49 am

    i would like to become a very good product manager as well as i want to know more about product management and other related subjects please send me the the tips and detailed topics, at my e-mail address which is available now.

  • Gregg Gallagher // Feb 17, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Couldn’t find your email address, so posted here as a comment.

    Welcome to the ranks of product management! Jeff’s site is a great start and there are a bunch of others as well. I write on my own blog on a number of subjects pertinent to product management and its’ role in innovation. The blog’s URL is http://quantumleadersblog.com/

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