3 Product Management Principles to Live and Die By

In any profession, the seasoned veterans seem to be able to handle any problem presented to them with confidence and surety that they should not logically be able to have. How do they do this? Is it just experience and a tempered soul that allows them to handle these problems and obstacles, or is there more to it? The truth is, in these professions, there are basic principles that are often only learned by years of experience, that allow you to handle any problem, or expertly approach any given task therein.

But, some of us don’t have the luxury of waiting for time to teach us these things, so how about a little bit of a spoiler, to save time? Let’s look at some very basic but very important product management principles which can make your life so much easier if you’ve been strapped with the duties this profession brings with it.

#1 – Rebranding should be Used Sparingly!

One of the things product managers will default to, when a product loses its loyalty, or is not well-received, or any other unfortunate incident occurs involving it, is to rebrand the product, when changes are made to improve it.

This is sometimes called for, but know when simply rereleasing the product with existing branding, yet improved, and completely rebranding the product is necessary.

Note that alterations of labels or packaging to change with the times, or to point out improvements to space it from the previous incarnation, is not true rebranding.

Take, for example, Coca-Cola, which has only rebranded once in recent times, that being when it became “Coca-Cola Classic” after the “New Coke” fiasco. Since then, the only modifications have been packaging changes and various advertising campaigns.

#2 – Identify Constructive Criticism

In product management, you spend a lot of time going through user input from surveys, customer service and other channels, to determine what people do and don’t like about your product, so that R&D can improve the product to better suit customers.

However, a lot of user input may ask the impossible, or ask for too much. Still other lines of input may ask the product to be something it was never intended to be.

Many companies see downfall chasing these dragons, because they can’t identify useful input from the absurd.

#3 – Adjust Your Lifecycle for Churn Prevention

Your lifecycle, which brings about, among other things, improvements, rebranding or other changes to a product, can be too long. While a product lifecycle is a game of patience, versus a marketing lifecycle, if it goes on for too long, customers can become complacent or lose interest.

Other similar products can come along from competitors, which seem new, and maybe edgy or more modern, and can draw customers away, as customers value novelty. This will bring about some levels of churn, which is a serious problem.

Your lifecycle has to be timed so that this churn is minimal, but your overhead isn’t too severe from modifying a product too frequently. There’s no real general rule for the time frame to do this, unfortunately. But the mark of a good product manager is someone with the intuition to know how long is long enough for any given incarnation of a product, before it’s time to shake things up, and maybe improve it.

These are the product management principles to live and die by, and while my description of them is basic, I’ve captured the essence of them here.

Mark is the Lead Author & Editor of Spectechular Blog. Mark established the Spectechular blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Product Management.