Product Manager - do This not That

TLDR: The main responsibility of a Product Manager is to solve customers problems

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Listen to Customers

and understand their problems.

As a Product Manager, your main responsibility is to provide solutions to your customer's problems.

Otherwise, you develop something that no one wants or needs. But most important NO ONE is willing to spend their hard-earned money for.

Do NOT listen to your customers

while developing the solution.

Customers are not Product Managers who dictate the product.

If this would be the case, you will create an "Eierlegende Wollmilchsau" (The do-it-all machine) that requires many resources and can't do anything properly.

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” - Henry Ford

Watch the competition

because they are can help us understand our customers' problems.

Use your competitions products as an outsourced user test.

  • What does the customer think about it?
  • How does he use it?
  • How and where is to product positioned?
  • Why this product and not something else?
  • Is there ONE feature that all customers use and the rest can be neglected?
  • What purpose it was built for? (see next sub-point)

Listen to the Customer (Special Edition)

Why was the product released? Is it on the market to solve customer problems or does it solve a problem of the competition?

A good example for a competition problem vs. a customer problem

  • Customer problem: I do not want to buy a new device every time the battery is empty.
  • Customer Solution: I need to be able to replace batteries, repair my devices.
  • Competition problem: We need to sell more devices.
  • Competition Solution: The device is manufactured in a way that obstructs repair and forces customers to buy a new one.

Do NOT watch the competition

and stop worrying about what they are doing.

Do not fall into the "new shiny thing" rabbit hole!!

Does new technology "really" solve the customer problems or is it "just" a novelty and used as an excuse?

Be a Thief

not really stealing things but don't be afraid to take an idea and go for it.

It's not always necessary to reinvent the wheel!

Instead use existing solutions (Platforms, Ideas, Infrastructures) and be faster, cheaper and better.

Make smart decisions about what "to do" and most important what "not to do", to solve your customers' problems.

Build products customers want

to pay for.

Asking customers if they want something new (the next shiny thing), all of them will answer YES.

Saying "YES" does not cost anything. It's free to share opinions. And who does not want FREE stuff???

Asking the same group of customers if they are willing to pay for the same thing and suddenly many of them will have second thoughts if they "really" need it.

Don't charge money

for every smallest feature.

Not everything can be measured in ROI.

As human beings, we build relationships with one another. Invite friends for a lunch or help out without expecting any repayments.

What small gesture can you offer to your customer that makes them smile?

Gestures like these increase appreciation for the product and the people who work on it (the company behind it)?

Your customers have emotional and social needs which are just as important as their functional needs (e.g.: Car Advertisement)

Speed Up

by taking action today.

Product features are defined by costs (story points, time and money) but there are also cost for "NOT doing anything" = cost of delay.

Do not be afraid to make decisions and move on.

Say "NO"

for the right reason.

CEO's, Stakeholders, Investors, Sales, Marketing ... do not have the highest priority but happy customers.

Happy customers who can buy your product that solves their problem.

And should your co-workers have a really good suggestion, but it's the one person you hate the most in the office, then put your ego aside and say YES!

Don't be a visionary or an oracle

who has all the answers.

Product Managers need to be obsessed with understanding the customer problems and solving them.

This requires Interviews, Analysis, Conversations, Feedback from your customers.

You are not your customer

It's not always possible to use a product to the same extent your customers will use it.

So listen to your customers and learn from their experiences.

  • How do they use the product?
  • What features?
  • How often and to what extent?

However when possible, "Eat your own dog food" and encourage your whole team to use your own products on a daily basis.

Be Dumb

ask many questions and put yourself in your customers shoes.

Especially persons with an engineering background tend to jump to conclusions.

  • A person with a software background will try to solve everything with software.
  • While a person with a hardware background will focus on hardware solutions.

Take time here and there, step back, rethink and do not allow the "Curse of knowledge" to dictate all your decisions.

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