Anyone who has worked with me over the past few years will be familiar with my strong opinions regarding the importance of solid product management in a software development company. I admit, when I first thought about going into marketing, I thought that marketing’s role was to support the sales campaigns. It took one specific product management course, Pragmatic Marketing, to enlighten me, and I’ve been a convert ever since.
If you read nothing else about product management, read the second half of page 5 in this presentation by Steve Johnson. It is a story we’re all familiar with, we occasionally need reminding of, and could make or break a company.
Basically, when you create software in your garage with your mates hoping to be the next Jobs/Wozniak or Gates/Allen, you’re creating what you believe to be a cool product that will revolutionise the world. But will people actually want it enough to pay money for it?
Once you start forming a company around your cool product, your sales people will sell it like crazy, but chances are the chasing of the sale will result in having to customise your cool product for every customer which makes the success of the company precarious due to slim profit margins.
Instead, by hiring a product manager who can research and identify what the market as a whole needs and wants (and most importantly: will pay money for), you can sell the one product many times rather than chasing your tail in a vicious cycle of selling many products once.