By Rivi Aspler
A few months ago, I linked the type of product manager that you want to hire, to the product life cycle stage that your product is at, saying that an engineering oriented product manager would be a better fit for a product that is at its first life cycle stages and that a marketing oriented product manager would be a better fit for the more mature product.
Taking it one step further, it is important to define the type of product that would be a better fit, for each market-stage.
This may seem like a non-issue, but trying to break into a mature market with a new product, you will be faced with companies and products that have been there for years. Trying to take market share from these veterans, you will have to bring something new., i.e. key differentiators.
The old saying that no one gets fired for choosing IBM, is maybe a cliché, but clichés are such, usually because they are true….
Immature markets, on the other hand, or early adopters, for that matter, are either still fragmented, or are disappointed to one degree or another with their current products. They would be willing to consider a young product or an unknown vendor, if you had managed to prove that your product holds enough key differentiators.
Product management wise (and this is where it gets interesting), if you are building a product for a mature market and if your budget is limited, you have to make difficult choices. You will not have the money to build that mature product that the veterans already have as well as add those key differentiators that are an absolute necessity.
As a Product Manager, you will have to compromise on the completeness of the product in order to invest in differentiation. This means that you must consciously neglect all the bits and bytes that make your product feature-perfect. If you are a perfectionist, this may be painful for you.
Once you have your foot in the door, meaning you have earned enough industry attention and enough early-stage customers (i.e. perceived equity) – only then can you go back and fill the product-holes that you consciously left un-attended.
Good luck in building the product that your company really needs,
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Rivi is a product manager with over 15 years of product life-cycle management experience, at enterprise sized companies (SAP), as well as with small to medium-sized companies. Practicing product management for years, Rivi now feels she has amassed thoughts and experiences that are worth sharing.