Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post. Interested in collaborating on Product School’s blog? Email Gabriela Araujo at gaby(at)productschool.com
Product managers are often lauded as a company’s most important hire since its future success mostly depends on the product manager’s performance. As a product manager, you may have a blazing passion for your company’s products, extensive experience with managing teams and great marketing initiatives. These attributes, however, do not make you an excellent product manager if you often make these common mistakes that will not only affect your company’s sales but also your overall work performance.
Not Knowing Your Customer Base
At times, customers can seem unfathomable and no matter how much you try to predict their behaviors, you end up scratching your head, wondering where you went wrong. Customers can be fickle and unpredictable and if you don’t make time to know them better, you will not really understand what’s lacking in your products. To understand what your customer wants, create a customer profile and determine their age, gender, lifestyle and other important factors that will make them buy your products.
Regardless of the size of the data you collect from your customers, you should always utilize it. Big and small customer data will both give you insight into their buying behaviors and their current needs. If you want to know your customers’ perception of your products, you can use customer surveys by phone, online or even in-store. Some customers may not answer honestly so you should do so in a more comfortable setting. An online quiz-show style game will make your customers more comfortable in answering your questions than when they are in a focus group where others may misunderstand them.
Confusing Customer Requirements with Product Requirements
Product requirements are more focused on the technicalities of the product such as physical characteristics, performance, interface, functionality, quality and standards and regulations. On one hand, customer requirements are all about the needs and expectations of customers regarding your products. Some product managers get confused with these two different things, making them lose sight of the specific qualities that will make their products sell. This is why it’s important for companies to first know and understand their target customers before they develop a product. Complying with the product requirements is easier if you also know what your prospects are expecting from your new product.
Not Paying Attention to the Online Customer Reviews
What people think about your products is very important, especially those who have actually tried them. Sadly, some product managers don’t pay attention to the response they are getting online and, eventually, lose unsatisfied customers. If you have a website which is open for reviews, check them every now and then and see what your customers are saying about your products. It is very important to listen to your customers and if they have suggestions, take note of them and see if you can incorporate them in your next production. Don’t be bothered or be intimidated by negative customer reviews because they will help you identify your products’ weaknesses and improve them in the future.
To gain more reviews, make good use of industry-based websites such as Glassdoor, TripAdvisor, Indeed and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. You can also utilize web analytics tools to keep track of your customer engagement.
Being Overly Unrealistic with Timelines
Understandably, you want to finish things as quickly as possible. However, being in a rush may compromise the outcome of your products. You can always set a timeline for each task or process but you have to make sure it is realistic and feasible. Before you set a deadline for any project, you have to consider many different factors such as the number of your project members and their work schedule, the availability of your resources, how long each task actually takes and other important milestones that will help you keep track of your progress.
Building your effective project timeline should be fun instead of stressful and complicated. Don’t pressure yourself and your staff because at the end of it all, what’s most important is the quality of your product outcome as well as the response of your customers.
Confusing Product Launch with Success
Just because you have launched your product doesn’t mean your business is already successful. You might have shed tears and blood to develop your product but this is not the end of it all. In fact, this is just the start of your journey as a product manager or a business owner. The real success of a startup may take up to 7 or even 10 years, depending on how you manage your business. The problem with some product managers is that they become too confident after launching their product, thinking their success will be unceasing.
If you’re having more victories than problems in the first year of your business, this means you’re off to a great start. However, it shouldn’t stop you from focusing on the things that matter most in your business such as product improvement and customer satisfaction. Don’t assume anything in your first year.
Your Time Starts Now!
When crafting and launching a new product, you should not rely on your gut feeling alone. You need an organized product launching plan and the ability to pay attention to every detail that may affect your sales. To be a successful and effective product manager, avoid common product management mistakes and keep in mind these valuable points.
Meet the Author
Meggie Nahatakyan is a marketing expert and a data junkie with more than six years of experience in the field, and currently works at OmnicoreAgency. Aside from being a marketing nerd, she loves taking her life to the extreme with bungee jumping and skydiving when she feels some freedom.