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When to Grow Your Product Management Team: Focus on Timing

"Focus means saying no, not saying yes. If you spread yourself out over too many things, none of them will be great." — Greg Joswiak, VP of product marketing, Apple Inc

The fastest way to get your company out of the startup phase is to grow your product management team.

A startup is defined as an organization that has not yet found product-market fit. You probably have a product—or maybe a couple of products. But the business hasn’t been able to achieve scale. You’ve tried random acts of development and marketing. But the results aren’t consistent.

By this definition, some decades-old companies are still startups.

One company told me they had 12 customers in 12 market segments. Each with its own special requirements.

What’s missing…

Use product management to find your product-market fit.

Go back to the basics. Products solve problems for personas.

  • Who are you trying to help (that is, what type of person)?

  • What problems do they have that you can solve?

  • Does your product completely solve those problems?

  • Is your solution materially different from alternative solutions?

And the real challenge is to focus on the needs of one set of personas and meet most of their needs before you start exploring new markets and new personas.

That’s the essence of managing products. To make your business results repeatable:

Find a problem —> Solve a problem —> Tell people

Product Manager vs. Product Marketing Manager

When it comes to growing your product management team, you need to identify what type of role you need filled.

A product manager drives from idea to product.

A product manager identifies friction for the people who use your product and works with development and services to design programs (or features) to reduce that friction.

You need a product manager when the daily company-related duties of the president or founder leave little time for managing the product. A product manager keeps everything documented, keeps it current, and keeps everyone informed.

A product marketing manager drives from product to market.

A product marketing manager identifies friction for buyers and sellers and works with marketing to design programs that reduce friction.

You need a product marketing manager when the sales and marketing teams are struggling to find the right prospects with the problems you solve. A product marketing manager guides segmentation, documents the buyer personas, and empowers the sales and marketing teams with product information.

Product management and product marketing are roles for next and now.

Know when it’s time to add product management roles to your team.

As we say in the consulting field, “how’s that working for you?”

Until you have found a way to do it right, you’ll end up doing random things over and over again.

Do you have someone analyzing the friction for buyers and users?

If you’re not achieving the desired business results, it’s time to change the game.

Grow your product management team by bringing product managers onto your team to perfect getting from idea to product and adding product marketing managers to master getting product to market.

Read more in our free eBook, "How to Achieve Product Success" and discover how to be systematic about discovering, developing, and delivering products.


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