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Projects-to-Products: Modern Product Management

By Brian Nathanson posted Oct 28, 2019 04:22 PM

Modern product management combines 3 key roles or topics:
  • "Traditional" Product Management (aka Product Marketing Management)
  • Product Lifecycle Management
  • Brand Management (which one can argue is a subset of Product Marketing Management, but has its own unique characteristics)
Before we dive deeper into the topic, it should be observed that the concept of "product management" has been around for a very long time. People have certainly been marketing (and thus managing) various products or services ever since the invention of movable type in the mid-1400s -- and probably before that in ways that have been lost to time.

For the purposes of this discussion, we can talk about "traditional" product management as beginning in the early 1900s with the introduction of mass media and the proliferation of popular brands. I'll be covering the topic of branding in an entirely different series of posts later on; suffice to say here that several companies such as Proctor & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson have built incredibly durable businesses on building or acquiring a large portfolio of different products (known within the industry as "FMCG" or "fast moving consumer goods") and investing time and money in defining market segments and specific products aligned to those segments. These types of companies and their approach lend themselves to what most people picture as the traditional definition of product management -- also known in some cases as "product marketing management".

With a traditional product, the product itself is fairly self-contained and defined prior to manufacture or mass production. What is left is then to sell the product to customers -- thus, most of a product manager's time (which again is customer-facing) is spent figuring out how to position the product to the customer.

So what has changed? Well, in a sense, nothing and everything...I'll cover this in my next two posts (here and here).

Any thoughts on traditional product management? Popular brands that catch your eye and appeal to you? The comments are open.