Plan ahead for product positioning

If you want to be a bad product manager, craft your product positioning as you’re ready to launch the product. Once you’ve got a good product almost ready, all you need to do is come up with a slogan, put some brochures and a press release together, and you’re ready to go. The real hard work is in building the product, not getting the marketing together. In fact, if you’ve done your job right, the product will practically sell itself!

If you want to be a good product manager, plan your product positioning as early as possible, even before you start building your product. The positioning of your product needs to be closely tied to the product itself.

The position of your product will dictate much of what you put in to it. Before building a product, you should know your customer needs and where your competition is positioned in the market. Picking your position in the market will help define your strategy and then guide the many tactical decisions you will have to make along the way.

Let’s say you were the product manager in charge of new software that could perform powerful mathematical calculations. Research shows customers are interested in power but also care about speed. Analysis of the competition shows that software from your competition is either fast but not very powerful, or powerful but not fast. Your position would likely be to develop a product that is very powerful, but also fast. That will help as you make decisions and trade-offs involving power versus speed. It also allows you to test along the way to make sure the product you are building is perceived by customers to be very powerful, but also fast.

Positioning is an important and influential part of product management. Even the best product can fail if not positioned correctly. Craft your position earlier rather than later and you will increase your likelihood for success.

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