You remember the Cranky Marketer, don’t you? That dude/dudette who thinks that in general Marketing is too busy with tactical crap to learn about and understand the customer, and that therefore Marketing’s failure to do its own job is somehow Product Management’s fault? (See Part 1, and Part 2, and the Cranky Product Manager’s response here).
Boy, that Cranky Product Marketer pissed the Cranky Product Manager off. Especially when she read Part 3, which she now posts here. Once you read it, you will see why it cheezed off the CPM so much – enough that she could not bring herself to post it for several months.
But perhaps the intervening months have made her wiser. The Cranky Product Manager realizes that there is indeed something for us product managers to learn from this post from the Cranky Marketer, despite its thesis that there are basically no decent product managers out there, and despite its strong resemblance to another blog’s post on this very topic.
The Problem with Product Management, by the Cranky Marketer
If there is one group that should actually work well with Marketing, you’d think it would be Product Management. C’mon folks! Product Management was created from Marketing’s very womb. But perhaps, like Shakespeare’s MacDuff, it was from that womb untimely ripped.
Perhaps Product Management has some sort of reverse Oedipus complex with Marketing, or the problem is simply a transference issue related to the nasty aspects of the Development-Product Management relationship. Regardless, there’s way too much friction between Product Management and Marketing.
To paraphrase a recent post by the Cranky PM:
Product Management Community, WTF is wrong with you?
Why was it that in all my years as a Product Manager I never noticed that the Product Management community is filled with such a wide array of bizarre characters and arrogant jerks?
Let’s do a little segmentation. Let’s create the Product Manager Magic Quadrant. And trust me, this is one Magic Quadrant that’s sorely needed.
Gartner, you’re on notice. If you start using this in any way, I’ll sue your ass off.
And Forrester, if you put this into a “Wave” and repurpose it, make sure you send me a fat royalty check. I have a soft spot for you Forrester because you actually have analysts who cover things like Marketing and Product Management. Way to go! And I promise not to sue you as long as the royalty check is big enough to let me take my family on a nice vacation away from my coworkers. I need that vacation real bad.
So, like all Magic Quadrants, this one has two axes.
The horizontal axis represents level of knowledge of the Product Manager. This is a combination of the PMs ability to understand market problems, customer needs, technology trends, and of course, their own product at a reasonable level of detail.
Note: very few PMs have deep knowledge in all areas, though many think they do, so very few PMs will be on the far right of this quadrant.
The vertical axis represents the ability of the Product Manager to effectively work across teams, This means that as the product or release is being developed, the rest of the company is kept informed and updated of progress, issues and opportunities so as to maximize revenue potential and minimize lag and wasted efforts. And of course, on this axis, there is a slight bias to how well they work with Marketing. Hey, it’s my Quadrant, I’ll define it how I want to.
Note: a lot of PMs think they’re the ultimate cross-functional leader, but guess again. Every PMs will claim they’re easy to work with and keep everyone else up in sync. How could they answer otherwise? But the reality is this is not the case so a lot of PMs will not score at the top of this axis.
I’m sure you would agree, knowledge and ability to work across teams are two VERY important traits for product managers to have. So here’s what the Product Manager Magic Quadrant looks like.
Great people skills and usually very kind and decent overall, but unfortunately have no business being in Product Management as they can’t assimilate market facts and drive product direction. Far too many PMs reside in this quadrant
Said to exist but rarely seen. May be mythical beings. Have deep understanding of market issues, customer needs and competitor weaknesses. Are proactive in creating and conveying information across the enterprise. Truly understand that success is a team effort and take pride in helping other teams succeed.
Have little knowledge of anything aside from their own opinions, and don’t even know how to convey those clearly. Think a cross-functional meeting is one where they ask everyone else what they did last week. How do these people ever get hired?
Spend a lot of time reading analyst reports, attending conferences and talking to customers and prospects. Very eloquent when speaking with C-level executives. But will badmouth you endlessly when you’re not in the room and will throw a hissy-fit if you challenge them on anything they say.
(low) Level of Knowledge and Understanding (high)
As you can see from this Magic Quadrant, the pickings are slim with the vast majority of PMs either too unskilled or too arrogant to be helpful. The knowledge that Marketing needs about the product, product direction, strategy, capabilities, differentiators etc. is very hard to come by, with Angels being the ones who can convey it with any credibility and without extracting a severe price for that information.
With Assholes, the information has to be painfully extracted, and in most cases, abuse is heaped on the Marketer by the Asshole.
And of course, with the Misfits and Tenderfoots (Tenderfeet?), there isn’t a lot of information to actually extract, so what’s a Marketer to do?
Product Management is an important role and those of us who depend on Product Management to help enable us to do our jobs better struggle because a key piece of the chain is weak or missing altogether. As I said in my first post, it’s very difficult for Marketing to be the product and customer expert given all the other things we have to do in our job.
As Product Managers, ask yourselves how much thought, energy and time you spent researching needs for your most recent major release? How many discussions did you have amongst yourselves and the Engineering teams on architecture changes to make the product better? In how many internal conversations did you spend time debating competitive and technology issues before you came to agreement of what would and what wouldn’t be in that release and how it would be implemented and exposed to customers?
Now ask yourself, how much time was spent helping Marketing understand all those decisions you made, why you made them, the background information behind the key decisions, the alternatives you did and didn’t consider, the way the competitors do or don’t address the same problem sets etc.
I’m sure the ratio of time spent with Marketing is only a tiny fraction of the time you spent amongst yourselves and with Engineering. And then you wonder why Marketing “doesn’t get it”, or why Marketing “dilutes the message” or why Marketing “focuses on the wrong things”.
You didn’t gain your deep insight based on a 90 minute Powerpoint webinar, so why do you expect Marketing to be any better?
You want Marketing to gain a deep understanding of all the hard work you did over the last 6-12 months so as not to dilute the message etc.? Then don’t think we’re dumb or dumb things down for us.
Give us the facts, early and often. Give us time to think about the issues, ask questions, debate amongst ourselves and engage back with you. Try it. You’ll be amazed at how great it can work!
Or just continue to be Tenderfoots, Misfits and Assholes and be happy in knowing that the greatest barrier to maximum success of your product is you.
Also in The Cranky Marketer Goes Off
- Guest Post: The Cranky Marketer Goes Off (Part 1)
- Guest Post: The Cranky Marketer Goes Off – Part Deux
- The Cranky Product Manager bitchslaps the Cranky Marketer
- Guest Post: The Cranky Marketer Part 3 – The Problem with Product Management