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Product Management Careers, Jobs, and Training Information

Product managers use strategy and tactics to develop and market products. Strategy is required to plan for the future by evaluating competition and positioning a product. Tactics are needed for creating effective promotional campaigns, tracking sales, and finding out what customers want. Product managers strongly influence business success as they manage and strengthen product brands.

Skills and Talents of a Product Management

  • Product managers work less with people than other positions in the marketing field. They spend most of their time using analytical and problem solving skills.
  • Managers must be able to effectively give presentations within the company as well as to clients. Persuasion is also a necessary tool to gain support for proposed ideas.
  • A product manager position is often viewed as the “ultimate job” by marketing personnel. This is because product managers are responsible for complete marketing operations from commencement to customer distribution of a product.
  • Product manager positions are acquired only after years of experience in sales and marketing. The majority of people who attain a manager position have significant experience working in sales.
  • Product manager positions, especially in competitive companies, generally require a Masters of Business Administration degree (MBA). Marketing experience in addition to a master’s degree is incredibly beneficial in the industry. Schools including Ohio State, Georgetown, IMD, Dartmouth, and Northwestern offer prestigious programs in product management and marketing.
  • Product management experience is good training and often a pre-cursor to work in international marketing. Moving to a career in international marketing requires product expansion, gaining understanding about product potential, and acquiring knowledge about specific world markets.
  • Product managers usually earn high salaries because of their level of education and extensive experience. Product management positions are difficult to acquire not only because of extensive requirements, but also because it is considered a “fast track” career. The amount of products that bring in significant revenue determines the number of product managers needed.

Product Management Job and Employement Opportunities

There are numerous possibilities within a product management job. A manager can work in different setting with various products. They might work in a business-to-business setting to effectively develop a small group of customers. Work could also be in a business-to-consumer environment where managers work to develop and manage certain brands. Managers could work with food and restaurants, high tech companies, or consumer electronics.

  • Food and Restaurants
    Product managers working in the food and restaurant industry market products, such as a new sandwich released at a fast food chain. They test products, plan, and persuade as well as work with other advertising professionals, senior managers, consultants, suppliers, and restaurant franchisees.
  • High Tech
    Working as a product manager in this industry requires the positioning of certain technical products. This is done after talking and working with computer manufacturers, customers, and professionals in advertising agencies. An understanding of the competition is essential. Market research and working with engineers is also required.
  • Consumer Electronics
    A product manager in consumer electronics may be in charge of a product such as a new video game system. They determine who will buy the product and the correct price to sell through market research. Managers also determine how much money will be spent to market the product.

Facts and Trends

  • A product manager is one of the most influential positions within a company. They bridge the gap between the company’s leaders and the consumer.
  • The use of product management dates back to the 1950’s. Proctor & Gamble was one of the first companies to use and develop product management positions.

    Initially, Proctor & Gamble had several products within their own company that were competing against each other. Today, companies generally use their products to work together for the market share and compete with products from other companies.

    Proctor & Gamble made history by holding a summit to talk about online marketing in 1998. Top marketers from global companies attended, including Coca-cola and McDonald’s. The companies decided to invest in trying to make the web the most effective medium for marketing.

  • The summit proved that it is essential to have talent as well as a solid understanding of technology to attain a successful career in marketing. Marketing graduates must be able to deliver messages online through television derivatives, PC’s, and handheld devices. They must be able to effectively use web-based marketing to determine potential and demographics. The correct use of data warehouses, databases, and marketing messages will provide opportunities to those seeking marketing careers.
  • The use of product management is now globalizing. Companies are marketing some of their products globally while keeping local brands in a local market until market research shows promise for wider use. A large increase in international product management has occurred since the 1990s.
  • To be a product manager, it is essential to have strong skills in computer analysis, math, statistics, data collection, communication abilities, problem formulation, and data interpretation and analysis. These skills are used daily to effectively collect and use marketing research.
  • Specialization is beginning in product management as the economy grows. Specializing and competition in market niches is creating opportunities for managers to find and target precise demographic groups. This is allowing companies to customize their products to each individual. An example of this is Levi-Strauss marketing jeans specially fit for each customer.
  • According to Professor N. Bordon of Harvard Business School, product, price, place, and promotion are the four P’s that describe a product manager’s job. As the market has evolved, there are an additional three P’s included: process, people, and provision of customer service.
  • Five I’s (ideas, information, interactions, interruptions, and imagination) are listed by the Original Thinking Company’s Ken Hudson to describe project management. Ideas represent altered information projected to create profit. Interactions represent the process of understanding and listening to the customer. Interruptions represent the necessity to alter normal patterns of behavior and thinking. Imagination is what allows people to see the future possibilities and success of products.