The Product Manager is the owner of a product, product line or service. This means the Product Manager is responsible for every aspect of the product or service from inception through the complete life-cycle.
The Product Manager must ensure that the consumer of the product has the best experience every day. This is a balancing act between understanding the needs and requirements of the consumer and knowing the potential of the organization to deliver. If necessary, the Product Manager’s job is to drive improvement and change in the organization to ensure that the product is, and remains, fit-for-purpose, relevant and sellable.
Successful Product Managers are multi-skilled, analytical, organized, and dedicated to ensuring consumer satisfaction every day throughout a product’s life-cycle. This is a demanding and well-remunerated role, which also opens doors to many other roles within operations, sales, marketing, and general management within the organization. A fair amount of entrepreneurial spirit is required, meaning that many Product Managers also go on to start their own successful businesses.
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What Does a Product Manager Typically Do?
The Product Manager formulates the product’s vision, strategy and tactics, and ensures the delivery of all three in collaboration with all of the organization’s resources. This is a highly diverse and demanding role, requiring planning, analysis, holistic knowledge and people skills to ensure buy-in from all stakeholders. The role is both internal and client-facing.
The Product Manager’s role is closely linked to that of a Brand Manager, but goes beyond it in some regards. Management of a brand entails positioning, messaging, packaging, support material, advertising and all the intangibles that talk to the consumer in the correct way about the brand. The Product Manager does all this but must also be involved in the technical aspects of the product, ensuring that the product is correctly conceived, designed, and manufactured to deliver against user needs, while remaining profitable for the organization. In addition, the Product Manager must ensure that the sales team is able to understand, demonstrate, and explain every aspect of the product in a way that will drive sales.
Strategically, the Product Manager is also responsible for the life-cycle of the product. The Product Manager must understand when to relaunch, when and what to upgrade, what differentiates the product from competitors, when to rebrand, and when to phase the product out.
Typical tasks will include, but are not limited to:
- Defining product vision
- Interviewing customers
- Defining product differentiation
- Developing the product strategy
- Naming and branding
- Planning product development
- Training sales staff
- Communication with the marketplace
- Managing product launches
- Analyzing and managing market feedback
- Analyzing performance to refine the strategy and tactics
- Relaunching, rebranding, upgrading and enhancing the product
Defining Product Vision
Defining product vision means deciding on what the product should aim to achieve and what it should represent in the eyes of its consumers. This is a crucial function in defining the product’s differentiation towards competitor products, giving the product the best chance of long-term success.
Interviewing customers determines the need, potential, and requirements for a product, and should inform the whole development process going forward.
Defining Product Differentiation
Defining product differentiation involves ensuring that the product, from inception, sets itself apart from competitors and has a recognizable advantage over everything else on the market.
Developing Product Strategy
In this discipline, the positioning of the product is defined to ensure that all sales support, placement, pricing and promotional activities follow a unified path.
Naming and Branding
In collaboration with the Marketing department, a Product Manager names the product and branded in such a way as to guarantee its clarity, its ability to become and remain top-of-mind and hence its long-term sellability.
Planning Product Development
The actual manufacturing of the product must be intricately planned and project-managed to ensure launch dates are feasible and the production process can be run profitably.
Training Sales Staff
Training material must be developed and Sales Teams trained to ensure the product can be explained correctly and effectively to customers and consumers.
Communication with the Marketplace
Customers and consumers must be informed of the impending launch of the product, desire and need must be created and excitement generated to ensure maximum initial pipelining sales to customers and pull-through to consumers.
Managing Product Launches
The actual launch of a product must be managed so as to create maximum impact, generating instant awareness and usage.
Analyzing and managing market feedback
Tracking systems and metrics must be developed to completely understand feedback from the marketplace, allowing instant corrective action if required.
Analyzing performance to refine the strategy and tactics
Similarly, the metrics should be regularly monitored on an ongoing basis to identify issues, opportunities and any changes in market behaviour.
Relaunching, rebranding, upgrading and enhancing the product
Periodically, and determined by ongoing product performance, the product should be relaunched, rebranded, upgraded, or enhanced to ensure its long-term competitiveness and differentiation versus competitors.
Roles a Product Manager Typically Collaborates With
A Product Manager will work together with the following positions:
|Marketing Manager||Brand Manager||Brand Ambassador|
|Sales Manager||Account Executive||Account Manager|
|Business Development Manager||Creative Director||Finance Manager|
|Project Manager||Operations Manager||Production Manager|
Product Manager Salary
The national average salary for a Product Manager will typically be between $83,000 and $144,000 per annum in the U.S. The median is around $110,982.
What is the Product Manager Pay Difference by Location?
Average salaries for a Product Manager differ by location as follows:
|San Francisco, CA||$138,728|
|New York, NY||$133,511|
What is the Product Manager Pay Difference by Experience Level?
Depending on experience, pay will vary as follows:
|Experience Level||Average Salary|
|< 1 year||$107,248|
Product Manager Job Description Template
[Company Name] is looking for a dynamic, experienced and talented Product Manager to ensure our products deliver sustainable value to our customers and the company throughout their lifecycle.
As a Product Manager with [Company Name], you will manage designated products from cradle to grave, and be responsible for every aspect of their market performance. You will analyze market intelligence, plan product initiatives, execute with excellence and drive the products’ agenda both internally and externally.
You’ll be working alongside our [insert relevant departments here] teams to position your products, drive long-term sales growth and increase our profitability.
The Product Manager will be responsible for:
- Ownership of defined products’ complete life-cycle
- Analysis of the market to identify quantifiable new product opportunities
- Definition of product vision, strategy, differentiation and GTM approach
- Leadership and coordination of new product development
- Training of internal stakeholders on product features and benefits
- Planning and implementation of product launches
- Definition and implementation of ongoing product strategy and tactics
- Performance management of products, including forecasting
- Planning and implementation of relaunches, rebrands, enhancements and upgrades as required
- Collaboration with all internal and external stakeholders to ensure maximum product longevity, success and profitability
Required Skill Set
The Product Manager should possess the following qualifications, skills and attributes:
- Bachelor’s degree in Product Management
- 5+ years’ experience in a Product Management position
- Excellent analytical and planning skills
- Ability to communicate effectively with all internal and external stakeholders
- Financial management experience and a focus on profitability
- Strategic mindset with a hands-on tactical understanding
- Customer- and consumer-centricity
- Ability to collaborate with multiple internal and external stakeholders to ensure success