In most successful businesses you will find the same dilemma. It occurs at a specific time in the company’s lifecycle. The story usually goes something like this:
A successful product hits the market. People love it. Initial growth attracts new investment. A brand develops on the back of the popularity of the initial product. And to improve the long term prospects of the company and capitalize on the existing customer base, the decision is made to invest in a new product or product line. The product development team does the research, commits the time, and creates something the entire company is excited about.
The new product launches, and…nothing happens. Sales are sluggish. This leads to some in-fighting and finger-pointing. Is it the fault of the product developers for creating a bad product? Is it the fault of the salespeople for their lack of enthusiasm? Is it the fault of the existing product line for hogging all the resources?
The Role of Product Managers
This is why we have product managers. Because it is inherently difficult to launch new products. And this is even more true when companies already have successful products in the marketplace.
It runs counter to what might seem like an obvious advantage. People will say that it’s easier to launch a new product within an existing brand because the brand already has credibility.
The problem is, a brand can fall victim to its own success. What worked with the first product might not work with the new. The same marketing strategy, pricing strategy, sales strategy – it might not work this time around. But companies, like people, can be set in their ways.
And so a product manager is needed to introduce a product to the company as much as they are introducing it to the marketplace.
What Does a Product Manager Do?
Product managers are like individual entrepreneurs running their own small business within a larger organization. They are responsible for the success of their product.
A good product manager develops the necessary relationships in every department in order to see that his or her product is successful. They work with the marketing team to make sure that the right customers are being served the right messaging. They work with the technology team to perfect the website and conversion processes. They work with the sales team to ensure they have the right resources and the right script.
It is natural for a company to favor those products that have historically been most successful. But that tendency limits the potential for growth by putting more faith in the past than in the future.
Product managers fight for resources and ensure that new launches get their due.
Using Product Managers for Growth
One affective strategy for growth is to assign product managers to set success metrics for their products and empower them to meet those goals. Incentivize them based on their product or product line, and organize all the departments within the company to support their efforts.
In this way, your company becomes the umbrella under which all of these smaller companies can grow and thrive.
Teams and individuals will still pick favorites, because it is in our nature to do so. But the more you can align departments in support of each and every product manager, the more you can keep that bias from acting as an obstacle to growth.