Product management is the process of developing and bringing a product to market. It involves overseeing the entire lifecycle of a product from its conception. From market research and product development to its launch and growth. 

Product managers are responsible for defining the features of a product. They must also understand customer needs and work with engineering, design, marketing, operations, and sales teams. However, when it comes to product management, the product is not the only thing that requires your attention.

Product Management Extends Beyond the Obvious

There’s no denying that product management means paying close attention to your product, but other nuances come with managing that product successfully. Many elements affect how your product will sell, including pricing, product quality, marketing, customer service, availability, and competition. 

Factors such as your target audience, location, and the seasonality of your product can also influence product sales. In this episode of A Little Marketing, Peter Vandenengel, VP of Broadband Solutions at SAGEMCOM, lets us in on how much of product management isn’t about the product and where we should take the time to direct our focus. 

Peter Vandenengel, a Product Management professional, walks Nikki and Mark through the importance of Product Management.  

Broadening Our Perspective on Product Management

Vandenengel states early on in the conversation that it’s essential to “Broaden your perspective on what’s being consumed,” and we couldn’t agree more. Products are no longer only products; he uses Starbucks as an example. 

Now more than ever, primarily with the onset of plenty of competition in every industry, companies must sell an experience. As Peter states, “you’re getting that same Starbucks experience,” no matter where you are. 

Product managers must consider what type of experience they’re putting out there. Because every customer touchpoint is a part of modern product management. Advertising will only solve selling issues if your product’s components are working.

When launching a new product or looking at a product that isn’t performing well, it’s imperative to talk to everybody, from branding and marketing to development and customer service. Discussions on the “front line” with sales team members will also provide valuable input. 

Product managers should keep themselves open to criticism and listen to what might be wrong with certain product features. More importantly, they should make the necessary changes. Essentially, successful product management involves teams company-wide. 

Peter understands the inside workings of large corporations and has plenty of knowledge in working as a consultant for small businesses. Small business owners must be flexible and agile, leaving room for evolution. 

Peter, Nikki and Mark discuss how there is always room to evolve your product to what consumers are asking for, but you have to go above and beyond to comprehend consumer pain points and understand what they want from you. As Peter states, “you may not develop the best widget, but you might have the best service.” 

Again, this concept takes us beyond focusing solely on the product and expanding past it into prompt service or customer service that’s easily accessed. We want to eliminate friction at all costs as it contributes to good product management. 

Three Key Takeaways

Peter offers three non-traditional takeaways that business owners and development and marketing teams should focus on regarding managing their products.

  1. If you’re running a business or selling a service, be curious and consistently ask questions. 
  2. Keep an open mind regarding the criticism of your product or service or your personality. Take in complaints and do your best to understand them. You will never be able to please everyone, but it never hurts to look at things from other perspectives, especially when selling goods and services.
  3. Flexibility is crucial when making adjustments in your business and thinking. Successful product managers are flexible, and they roll with change without getting (too) flustered. 

Remember that whatever you’re selling, you’re selling an experience. When we ensure that the path to the experience is as frictionless as possible, you have a winning formula for product management.