The Product Newsletter #63

Welcome to our Product Newsletter, a biweekly email highlighting top discussions, and learning resources for product managers.

What We Will Cover In This Edition:-

Top Discussions: 

1) I “accidentally” switched to be a growth PM

2) Advice for new growth PM on how to develop a fresh growth team

3) Product management against PM Growth

Top Learning Resources:

1. The Hierarchy of Marketplaces

2. Four Paths to Marketplace Success

3. How to pick the right GTM motion to reach $100M ARR

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Top Discussions

Question 1I “accidentally” switched to be a growth PM

Being the first PM (apart from the CPO) at a startup, I’m a relatively junior PM. How can I acquire all the knowledge required for the role? Throughout my time at the firm, I may work on many different aspects of the product, but I will begin with acquisition. As far as I can tell, an acquisition-focused product manager is essentially a growth product manager. It entails marketing, SEO, and determining ways to increase website traffic. Since the product is a B2B marketplace for a specialized industry, I am limited in what inspiration I can get from the kinds of well-known B2C success tales. Does anyone have any experience as an acquisition PM?

– Heather Kurtz

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Discussion

A] In my opinion, you should handle everything that happens after “getting them in the door.” Alternatively, convert leads into users or customers. Find out what the main obstacles are keeping a lead from signing up as a user and work to make it simpler for them to go over them. Register for a ton of B2B products that are almost comparable to yours (other markets in whole unrelated industries), choose what you like, and duplicate it. By studying well-known B2C success stories, you can gain valuable insights and ideas for your own product or service. Additionally, it would be beneficial to connect with someone who has experience working as a PM for acquisitions to learn from their expertise. As for converting leads into users or customers, it is essential to identify the main obstacles preventing leads from signing up and find ways to simplify the process for them. To gain further inspiration, consider registering for various B2B products in unrelated industries and observing what strategies they employ that resonate with you, allowing you to adapt and replicate those successful tactics in your own market.

– Bina Campos

B] Head of Product Growth here.

First: you need to have a fixed screen time with marketing/sales needs. That’s the main goal of it all. You are like a leverage resource for them (one that could actually build new things, features and processes, and not “just” a part of their common toolset, like a CRM Software or Analytics tool).

Second: you should find the numbers. What exactly are you trying to “grow” here? What are the KPIs? Do they keep track of it? If not, where should you build your data gathering?

Third, and most important: you should connect those growth needs with other teams. You are the focal point of a range of skillsets that those teams actually lack. Make use of it.

In our company, basically, we needed to scale Inbound Lead Acquisition to mitigate the Ad expenditure. We’ve found out the content creation would be key for that, but we needed to ramp it up to be effective. We just leveraged those channels by 650%+ and the performance team stopped being so worried about budget.

We connected engineering, content and performance teams, making a brand new solution for it all… pretty cool! Just keep in mind you will be their jack of all trades. You will be the leverage

– Dianne Stinger

C] You must ascertain the precise social media locations of your target audience. You don’t have to find the stakeholders, but the door to stakeholders. With that, you must launch marketing initiatives and retain only the most successful ones. There are several doors and methods for locating them. You may conduct SEO, post marketing messages in specialist groups, pose as a job seeker to obtain firm information, or question current clients about their use of social media and business channels. These various approaches will help you gather valuable insights on where your target audience is most active and engaged. Additionally, analyzing the demographics and interests of your existing customer base can provide valuable clues about which social media platforms and business channels to focus on. By adopting a multi-faceted approach and continuously evaluating the effectiveness of your marketing initiatives, you can optimize your efforts and ensure that you are reaching the right audience through the most effective channels.

– Dhiraj Mehta

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Question 2) Advice for a new growth PM on how to develop a fresh growth team

Hello to all of you.
I recently started as a new product manager in addition to being a growth PM. I’d want to know how growth PMs at different companies operate their growth teams. If you were in my position, how would you handle this circumstance?
Observations I made on our situations:

  1. We haven’t done much in the way of iterating, despite spending a lot of time planning, debating, and developing ideas.
  2. We haven’t used the MVP methodology in our previous growth attempts; instead, we’ve operated more like a product team implementing complete products.
  3. We are dependent on the engineers of other teams to conduct experiments since we lack dedicated engineers.

Additionally, please share any thoughts or pointers you may have for a fresh growth PM looking to expand their growth team! It would be much appreciated!
Thank you very much.

– Ana Rodriguez

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Discussion

A] A few ideas

  1. Recognize your acquisition and retention funnels first.
  2. Create a MECE map of the drivers at each level of the funnel when you have funnels.
  3. Decide which phases in the funnel you want to concentrate on (it might be the largest TAM, the least explored, the least efficient, etc.). The decision you make will depend on the demands of the company, what other teams aren’t doing, etc.
  4. An exploration, expansion, and extraction portfolio is what you should ideally aim for. According to (3), you can begin with any of them. This might let you provide more PMs on the team scope as you develop (e.g., each might drive one of these workstreams). There are, of course, various methods to split things apart.
  5. As another reader pointed out, you might or might not be allowed to conduct trials based on the size of your user base. You will iterate a great deal, even if you are not yet proficient in A/B testing. The team’s brainstorming sessions may be an excellent source of ideas for generating hypotheses, which you will then need to investigate and test, provided that they align with and support objectives 1-3.
  6. With only yourself and a little help from people in marketing, data science, and/or user research, you can pull off something impressive. You will want to have engineers who can commit to this for a project of this scale. The size of your business, the significance of growth, the magnitude of the opportunity, the opportunity costs, etc., all influence whether or not this is feasible.

Wishing you luck!

– Eva Richardson

B] It is crucial for product managers to have a clear understanding of the scope of their responsibilities in order to effectively address the issue of declining sign-up quality. By accurately assessing the size of the opportunity, product managers can make informed decisions and implement appropriate strategies to improve conversion rates. This requires careful analysis and consideration of various factors, such as market trends, customer needs, and competitor offerings. While it may be challenging, investing time and effort into accurately assessing the scope of their jobs is essential for product managers to drive success in their organizations.

Additionally, having a clear understanding of the scope of their responsibilities allows product managers to prioritize initiatives and allocate resources effectively. They can identify areas that require immediate attention and focus their efforts on addressing them first. Furthermore, accurately assessing the scope of their jobs provides product managers with valuable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of their products. This knowledge enables them to develop targeted strategies and innovative solutions to overcome challenges and stay ahead in the competitive market. Therefore, by continuously evaluating and expanding their scope, product managers can ensure long-term success and growth for their organizations.

– Donovan Okang

C] I used to be a growth PM and currently manage one. Here are a few thoughts for you:

  • Unlike most product functions, growth involves more iterations. It takes a lot of testing, particularly in the beginning, to determine what will and won’t work.
  • Understanding the current growth constraints for your product—where are you most constrained?—is the best strategy to optimize value. What is a reasonable maximum amount of opportunity?
  • You can afford to experiment much more when you have millions of users to test your ideas on. Since your sample is small and some trials won’t converge, you must be more thesis-driven in your work if you have hundreds. You should only test items designed to produce large lifts if you have hundreds because you won’t be able to see little impacts.
  • It is best to strive toward having committed engineers. It is advised to assess the opportunity you have and present your case for what you can do with devoted resources as opposed to shared resources before attempting to get more resources.

Here are two articles which I think you should have a look at:

Understand your success bottleneck – by Linda (substack.com)

Gaming-inspired curriculum for building products – by Linda (substack.com)

– Dan Coelho

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Question 3) Product management against PM Growth

Hi everyone,

Do you think there is a distinction between PM Growth and core product management?

Your insights would be highly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

– Maire Hamilton

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Discussion

A] Well, in my opinion, PM growth refers to the expansion and development of skills, knowledge, and experience within the field of product management. It encompasses continuous learning, professional development, and acquiring new competencies to excel in the role. On the other hand, product management itself refers to the overall process of strategizing, developing, launching, and managing a product throughout its lifecycle. While both are interconnected, PM growth specifically focuses on personal and professional advancement within the realm of product management.

– Lawerence Martin

B] Indeed. The “Growth PM” position has, the way I see it, changed recently to become more marketing and acquisition-focused. Therefore, whereas conventional PMs can work in any area of the product, growth PMs work much more closely with sales and marketing, specifically with the goal of gaining new customers, or achieving whatever the company’s current primary “growth” engine is.

Personally, I think that work in growth PM is really important, but I find real product work to be less fascinating. However, your experience may differ based on the firm and its current stage.

– Mario Romero

C] The development of businesses, encompasses a broader scope that includes not only marketing and acquisition but also product innovation, operational efficiency, and overall business strategy. While growth PMs focus primarily on acquiring new customers and driving revenue growth, the development of businesses involves a more holistic approach that considers long-term sustainability and market expansion. This may involve conducting market research, identifying new opportunities, improving existing products or services, and building strategic partnerships to drive overall business growth.

Moreover, development PMs also collaborate closely with cross-functional teams such as engineering, design, and finance to ensure that all aspects of the business are optimized for growth. They may work on optimizing the customer experience, streamlining internal processes, and implementing data-driven decision-making to achieve sustainable growth. Moreover, development PMs are responsible for continuously monitoring market trends and competitor activities to stay ahead of the curve and make informed strategic decisions. Ultimately, their goal is to create a thriving business that not only acquires customers but also retains them and fosters long-term loyalty.

– Pankaj Jain

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Top Learning Resources

Marketplaces that are able to scale the hierarchy build dominant “winner take most” value. What is required to get there is a focus not on GMV, but on creating happiness.
The marketplace that wins is the marketplace that figures out how to make their buyers and sellers meaningfully happier than any substitute. GMV alone is a vanity metric that can lead you down the wrong path if you chase it.

Four Paths to Marketplace Success

When building a marketplace, most companies strive to excel on all fronts: high frequency, high retention, and (relatively) high transaction values. Like a hybrid between Amazon and Airbnb, they want to build the kind of habit-forming product users can’t help returning to—and spending lots of money on. It’s the holy grail of marketplaces, and with good reason. It’s not only difficult to achieve, it takes a lot of time.

Luckily, it turns out there’s more than one way to build a successful marketplace. While frequency of use and transaction size are common metrics for determining a product’s potential, the a16z Marketplace 100 revealed some interesting trends.

How to pick the right GTM motion to reach $100M ARR

A loose rule of thumb for when a tech company can seriously consider an IPO is when they cross $100M in annual recurring revenue (ARR). While this ARR milestone is clear, what’s not always apparent to founders starting out is that the go-to-market you choose in the early stages will drastically alter how they get there and what their team will look like along the way.
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In this post, you will find the three most common go-to-market (GTM) motions, introduce their components, and show how they will impact the path to $100M ARR.

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