Psst – don’t look now, but it sorta looks like all of the economies in the world are all tanking at the same time. If you are a product manager, this sure does not look good for your career. I view a product manager as being the CEO of your product and so at the end of the day no matter what the economy is doing you are responsible for making sure that yourÃ‚Â product is a success. Hmm, if only someone had 7 suggestions for what a product manager should be doing RIGHT NOW…!
Good news – I do. As the CEO of your product you are going to have stand up and take charge even as everyone else in your company may be ducking in order to avoid attracting attention and getting laid off. At this time you can’t afford to be quiet – if your product fails, you’ll be gone so you may as well go out swinging. If you are willing to work to make your product a success no matter what, then this list of 7 things that you should be doing is just what the economic doctor ordered:
- Get Offensive: No, I’m not talking about working (more) four-letter words into your everyday vocabulary. Rather, I’m suggesting that you realize that during a recession other product mangers are going to be playing defense. They are going to be trying to hang on to the customers that they have because they fear losing them and they’re going to not be spending enough time pursuing new customer opportunities. That means that that this recession is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for you to build market share for your product. Work with your sales team and make sure that they are leaving no rock unturned right now in order to find new potential customers.
- Incent Your Customers: Once again, no – don’t get them angry; instead, get them motivated to try/buy your product. If ever there was a time to roll out a marketing program that is designed to get those customers who might be sitting on the fence eager to use your product, then this is the time to do it.
- Don’t Travel: Within your company, the bean counters are going to be keeping their beady little eyes posted in order to find ways to reduce costs. If you are hopping on a plane every week to go “gather requirements” from customers, all of a sudden you are going to find yourself wearing a nice bright set of concentric circles on you back when it comes time to reduce staff. Instead, use the full power of the 21st Century to reach out and contact both existing customers and new ones that your sales team has found. Although we are often tempted to use email for everything, don’t forget to pick up the phone and start calling!
- Get Creative: … with your marketing. One of my favorite quotes from the master marketeer, P.T. Barnum is “Without promotion, something terrible happens … NOTHING!” We’re not talking about a big iPhone launch ad campaign here, but rather a whole series of small marketing efforts that can have a big combined effect. Things like free trials of your product, special discounts, or even using the web to set up a customer portal to provide access to special information and support. Doing an online survey can be a great way to collect valuable customer information while reminding your customers that you are still here.
- Talk To Me Baby: How many times have you been told that an existing customer is 5x cheaper to sell to than getting a new customer? Well, now is the time to put that knowledge into action. Use your existing customers to help drive your product’s innovation direction. Collecting this type of information from customers who have already selected your product will allow you to make the product even better which will help capture more market share during the recession.
- Retrain Sales: We product managers know our products inside and out. How well does your sales team know your product? Probably not as well as you do. Use the recession to take the time to bring your sales teams up to speed on what they need to know: new features, planned features, competative info, etc. Once you’ve got them pumped up, there will be no stopping them from selling more of your product.
- Work Smarter: When times are good, we all have a tendency to focus on ourselves and try to meet our own objectives. During hard times, we need to instead look at our customers and try to figure out what we need to do to better met their objectives. This may be as simple as adjusting the hours that you work in order to better match your customer and to ensure that you’ll be there if they need to call you directly. Little things like this can make all the difference in ensuring that your product is a success even during a recession.
How is your product doing during this recession? Do you feel that your sales teams are out working hard enough to sell it? Have you done anything creative to help the company sell more of your products? Leave a comment and let me know what you are thinking.