As a first time product manager or product marketing manager, it can be very daunting to determine your first steps. More than likely, your manager will give you a list of things you need to get done. Or perhaps you are one of the lucky few who has some time on their hands to determine what to do next. As a first time product manager or product marketing manager, there are 3 things you should focus on during the first year of your job.
- It is always about the customer
- At the end of the day it is about running a business
- Listen, learn, and do
Market definition is fundamental to your success and to your customer’s success. It does not matter what how good your product is. If people don’t buy it, you don’t have a market to sell into. Therefore, focus on understanding your market first, before starting to delve into understanding the product features and functions.
“Learn to run it like a business“. That’s what my manager told me the day I started my first product marketing manager job, and that has stayed with me for all these years. Even if you don’t find yourself managing the best product in the market, the goal should be to continuously make it better yet sell find ways to sell more for your company.
Taking decisions is easy, but learning to make the right decision is fun. Over the years, I’ve managed and worked with many product managers and product marketing managers. The ones that have struggled have always wanted to be the decision maker from day one. In reality, as a first time product or marketing professional, the focus should really be on learning the art of decision making. Irrespective of the scenario, there are always multiple options to choose from. And each option has it’s pros, cons, and mitigations. The trick is to determine the option that provides maximum value to your customers and to the business with the least interruption.
As a product and marketing professional, there will never be a dull moment. Business priorities will change, customers will continue to want more, investments priorities will have to suffer, and sometimes you will have to divest a product or an entire product line. But at the end, it is about creating new opportunities and value to your customer and everything else will follow. The day you start believing in it, you will truly start understanding why product and marketing professionals do what they do.