“How to Stay Afloat as a Product Manager”
I’m struggling as a product manager, and this post contains no answers, but rather a desperate cry for help.
As anyone following this blog knows, I’m new to this job. I’m learning as I go.
So far, my job seems to involve:
- Managing the company social media presence on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook.
- Staying abreast of the competitive landscape, including the PR and product strategy shifts of dozens of competitive companies.
- Maintaining connections with our key clients and trying to understand their worlds, problems, and needs. Answering their questions and teaching them to get the most out of Kanbanery.
- Reaching out to new clients to understand their problems, contexts, and expectations and to help them understand how Kanbanery can help them, while also exploring how their experiences can help guide Kanbanery’s future.
- Creating feedback mechanisms to collect actionable data about how people are finding and using Kanbanery, and correlating that data to our PR efforts, public communications, email strategies, social media strategies, marketing activities, and product development such that we learn the effects of our decisions on our KPIs.
- Identifying those KPIs, verifying that they are the right things to be watching now, putting measures in place that I can trust, as well as measures to ensure that if those ever cease to be the right KPIs to track, I know it and can adjust.
- Creating the brand along with its image and voice and ensuring that all public communications, including PR, social media, emails, and in-app content are consistent.
- Writing all in-app, email, social media, and marketing copy and testing all of it to learn the most effective way of communicating in various situations.
- Defining the product roadmap and ensuring that it’s in line with the company’s vision and goals and that those visions and goals are in line with our target market’s needs and desires.
- Tracking the mountain of data that comes in every day from Google Analytics, Adwords, Customer.io, Hootsuite, Hotjar, Recurly, Optimizely, and our own custom metrics and deciding how to act on it.
- Coordinating with the development team to help them to understand our market and our customers and our target audience so that everyone’s united in developing towards a vision that matches all the stakeholder’s needs.
- Responding to press inquiries in a way that maximizes the impact of media activity in our market for our benefit.
- Developing, delivering, and promoting talks at industry events which add value for the audience while also strengthening our brand image.
- Collaborating with industry thought leaders to stay ahead of the direction that the community is going and contribute to the evolution of that community as an active participant.
- Seeking out clients who are willing to let me visit them and talk to them to look for opportunities to gather insights and to collect stories to add depth and character to scenarios that we are trying to address and to the personas for whom we’re creating solutions.
- Designing the workflow and graphics for new features and finding ways to improve the usability of existing features. Creating new icons and graphic elements as needed by the development team.
- Answering developers’ questions about how new features should work.
- Continuously improve the sales funnel through collaborative design and testing.
- Identify the most effective sales and marketing channels and decide which channels to ignore.
That’s off the top of my head. I’m sure there’s more. In practice, my days tend to be either reactive, getting lost in a morass of email, spending an hour finely crafting a detailed description of a feature in response to a client email, getting involved in Twitter conversations or in industry mailing lists until the day is over and I’m not sure how what I’d done advanced the company. Or I get fascinated by a single problem, like creating an excellent onboarding campaign, and I spend my days doing pre-copywriting research, exploring best practices, choosing tools, crafting and editing email series and devising tests of subject lines, voice and styles, creating alternate templates and setting up test cohorts and when I’m done, I realize I’ve been busy with one thing a week and everything else has slipped.
So I’m asking for advice from product managers out there. How do you plan your days and your weeks to get the maximum value from the time you invest in the office?