Product Management 101 – Short Guide

So you want to be a product manager? Congratulations, you’ve got some brass. This isn’t an easy job, in fact it’s one of the hardest jobs in the business world, because everyone wants a piece of you and everyone blames you when the ship takes on water. But, it’s a rewarding career and one of those rare business fields that lets you flex your managerial muscles while being an artist about it, in a sense. It’s a Zen practice, and one that needs patience and the ability to withstand pressure. Before you commit to this, let’s take a walk through Product Management 101 here, and find out what’s involved, how you have to handle things, and from there, you can decide if you have the guts for this challenge.

Calling this Product Management 101 is a slight misnomer, because I stand a snowball’s chance in hell of cramming everything you should know starting out, into an editorial of this size. So, before we get going, let me encourage you with all my heart to do more research after this, before making your final decision. We have a lot of great product management pieces here to look through, and they’re quite informative if I do say so myself!

#1 – Dancing with the Wolves

Oh this part’s not easy, and it’s one of the prime directives of product management. Dealing with competitors is a delicate science, and your marketing people will vouch for this. It’s easy to just assume that’s their problem, but no – it’s your problem too.

As a product manager, you deal with the store front, be it digital or brick and mortar. I deal mainly with ecommerce, but my colleague in food service travels the country dealing with the brick and mortar model, and there are differences and similarities here. Placement of products on shelves, their prominence and ease of being found, and standing out against the competitors there is a big part of product management.

This applies to ecommerce a little differently, working out ease of finding products by searches, and process of purchases, but the thing to walk away with here is that your storefront, and the competitors that will try to drown you out there are a big concern in this field.

#2 – Keeping Marketing and Production Paced

The next big responsibility is keeping the marketing team – with whom you will work very closely – in pace with production, R&D and distribution. Marketers see shorter lifespans for their campaigns than your product’s lifecycle will often have, so the delicate balance of keeping their marketing cycles in tune with rebranding, modification and redistribution is a real art form that you will dedicate a lot of your time and thought on. Learn marketing if you want to be a product manager!

#3 – Customer Experience Responsibilities

You will mostly deal with customer experience on the user input and R&D end, taking in information from customer complaints, critiques and positive citations, and figuring out how to implement what you learn from this into the product, its branding and its distribution as well.

So, learn some customer experience strategy to accentuate your product management skills right away.

This is more of an introduction to Product Management 101, because you can’t fit it all in one place. So from here, knowing the kinds of skills you will need, help yourself to our archive of marketing, product management and customer experience writing, and consider these the next chapters in your journey. Do you have what it takes?


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.