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A Career in Product Management: Nurturing Products From Inception to Distribution

Product managers develop products and market them. A product manager plays an active role in almost every stage of a product's lifecycle, from exploring a product idea to distributing the product to target consumers.

Product managers nurture products, position them strategically, assess the competition, and work toward their products’ development. Product managers are also involved with developing product-pricing strategies and monitoring trends.

As the market has become more complex, product managers have had to adapt. However, changing social trends, economic patterns, and the growth of niche markets have also created several opportunities-and challenges-for product managers.

Product Managers’ Tasks

Product managers work with product designers and marketers. They perform the following tasks:
  • research products, markets, and competitors

  • devise and execute product plans

  • based on market trends, they introduce new products or add features to existing products

  • manage the positioning of existing brands

  • develop product strategies and promotional planning

  • based on sales figures, feedback, and other survey reports, they forecast their products’ successes

  • keep track of competing products and monitor marketing and production efforts

  • carry out pricing and profitability analyses

  • assume responsibility for the successes and failures of their products

  • don’t interfere with the responsibilities of marketing and operations departments

  • anticipate serious product flaws and work toward achieving real solutions

  • strive to provide superior value for customers
Necessary Qualifications

Marketing attracts people from all backgrounds, but many employers prefer candidates with liberal arts degrees. To be considered for product manager positions, candidates will generally need at least bachelor’s degrees in business administration. Many high-profile companies insist that candidates possess MBAs, however.

Coursework in business law, economics, accounting, finance, mathematics, and statistics can benefit product managers in the field, depending on the type of the product. For technical products, a bachelor’s degree in engineering and a master’s degree in business administration are preferred. Computer skills and knowledge of database applications can also benefit people in marketing.

Prospective managers should keep in mind that product management positions are not for recent graduates. Most companies offer these jobs to people who have experience in sales.

Necessary Skills
  • strong communication and interpersonal skills

  • persuasive powers

  • presentation skills

  • analytical and strategic thinking

  • problem-solving skills

  • ability to interpret and analyze data

  • primary and secondary research skills

  • quantitative and business analysis skills

  • computer and statistical skills

  • domain knowledge

  • knowledge of marketing

  • result-oriented attitudes

  • creativity

  • entrepreneurial skills

  • customer focus

  • attention to detail

  • prioritization and multitasking skills

  • leadership and people-management skills

In non-technical fields, entry-level salaries for graduates with bachelor’s degrees range from $29,700 to $40,000. However, 50% of product managers earn between $65,597 and $87,169.
On the net:Career Profile: Brand/Product Manager

Marketing Career Profile: Product Manager

Good Product Manager/Bad Product Manager

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