When practicing Product Development, there are many variations of the framework for launching new products. Four-step cycles, six-step cycles, seven-step cycles – the choice of which lifecycle framework to choose can seem endless. No matter how many steps you use for your own product framework, all Product Managers are driving towards the same outcome – launching a product that is useful, meaningful, and beneficial to the intended user.
Product development lifecycle frameworks typically center around common key milestones – Discovery, Define, Design, Test, and Launch. Though “Growth” is a relatively new specialization, Growth Product Managers can use their skills and frameworks from past Product Management roles to create experiences that are engaging for the intended user – and the business! Even though success metrics look different as a Growth Product Manager, the framework still holds true. Let’s dive into how we can use our traditional framework to build a successful Growth practice.
A Growth Product Manager typically doesn’t have customers writing in feedback or complaining to support and sales about their domains. How wonderful would it be if our users sent feedback and feature requests about how they wish the product would make it easier for them to spend more time or money with us? If we look closely, we can still find our users helping us identify the problems to solve within Growth.
One of the ways to look to our users to help us with Growth discovery is by looking to our most successful users. We can use our traditional Product Management tactics, like customer interviews, to find out what made those customers achieve optimal outcomes with the product. Conducting interviews with the most successful users gives Growth teams insight into what resonated with the user that made them want to continue using the product.
Alternatively, interviewing customers who don’t meet the business’s success metrics can also be beneficial. The customers who don’t spend as much money or time with our products can help shed light on where we are failing to connect with the user.
On our Growth team at CallRail, we used these customer research tactics to learn how to better drive customer expansion of our AI-powered solution, Conversation Intelligence. Looking at what made customers both most and least successful helped us determine what elements of the product provided them with the most value and helped us strengthen our value proposition.
When we know what makes our users successful, and what doesn’t, we’re able to move to the next stage of the product development lifecycle – defining the problem.
One of the biggest differentiators for a Growth Product Manager compared to our colleagues in other domains is that we have a laser focus on business metrics. This focus can be misconstrued as the problem statement. “The problem is user retention.” “The problem is that we need to monetize more customers.” “The problem is that we need to activate more users.” But these are not real product statements.
A problem statement must consider the user’s problem, even if the reason we are solving it is for the business. Using the product discovery already completed, Growth Product Managers can now come up with a more traditional problem statement, typically framed as “As a _____, I want to _____, so that I can _____”. They can still use the business problem to help define this problem statement, because it will help narrow the focus, but the real problem statement should still be built around the user. For example, if you are trying to increase retention then a problem statement could be, “As a user, I want to see the value of the product quicker so that I can be sure it’s worth paying for.”
At CallRail, when we did customer interviews with our successful, and unsuccessful, Conversation Intelligence customers, we found that successful customers found the most value out of our transcripts feature, while unsuccessful customers weren’t educated on that feature at all. With this information, we were able to create a user-focused problem statement of “As a user, I want to be aware of the transcript feature so that I can save time when reviewing my phone calls.”
One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced during my time in Growth Product Management is convincing my fellow Product and UX Design colleagues that I’m not just a marketer in disguise, since walking the lines of monetization and user-centric design can be a thin tightrope. With a focus on the fundamentals of this relationship between ourselves and our stakeholders, we can deliver exceptional user experiences and meet our business goals.
The fundamentals that I rely on when building relationships with UX are trust and communication. I’ve found that when I communicate openly with my UX partners, it builds trust, and that builds great products. I always share the business goals with my UX partners. Together, we look at previous successful and unsuccessful attempts to grow and monetize and look at opportunities where we might naturally be able to do a better job of showcasing the value of our product to our users.
Openly discussing any fears that UX partners have around growth and monetization can also go a long way in fostering communication and building trust. Through open communication, I discovered that my UX partners feared that we were turning our software into an ad platform. To relieve this fear, we talked at length about how if we believe our products are good for our users, we shouldn’t be afraid to showcase them, even inside the software. With this fear uncovered and managed, we could move forward with designing and testing new experiences that helped users realize the value of our products.
Running tests is now a standard expectation for the Growth practice because tests give you the data you need to launch riskier feature changes and move forward with confidence. Keep in mind, testing doesn’t have to be perfect. In Product, we often move forward with imperfect or incomplete information. Things like organizing 3 customer interviews instead of 5, having to cut scope and reduce the perceived impact of a release, or only collecting 10 survey responses instead of 20. Because we are working with specific and measurable numbers as growth product managers, we sometimes can feel like we must have perfect data to move forward.
Don’t let this trap you into inaction – using directional data to help you make quick decisions can often be the most practical approach because when it comes to Growth, time is precious. Every day without action is a day without improved activation, a day with increased churn, or a day with lost revenue.
At CallRail, we don’t always have the time or resources to run perfect tests. When we have to run an imperfect test, we focus on what we will learn, and what our blindspots are. Remaining aware of the gaps in our testing keeps us critical of our own results and assumptions. In one instance, we ran multiple changes in the variant of an A/B test. Because of the discovery we had already completed, we were confident it would be a winning version. We also believed that if it won, it would be more important to launch it quickly because we didn’t test each change individually. Of course, there was the risk that the version with multiple changes would lose and we wouldn’t know why. But because we felt confident in our discovery, we agreed the risk of running a bad version was low. Our hypothesis proved correct, and the variant with multiple changes won. We were able to launch the next day with business impacting changes.
Of all the stages of the product development lifecycle, the most similar for traditional Product Management and for Growth is the launch. We launch our features and monitor the data and iterate continually. Most importantly, we collaborate with our teammates to deploy great experiences for our users. At CallRail, we recently launched a new product called Premium Conversation Intelligence. For businesses of all sizes with marketing and frontline teams, Premium Conversation Intelligence is the only conversation intelligence solution that lets them save time surfacing call insights, ensure teams are delivering quality and consistent customer service, and optimize marketing and sales conversions by automating call transcription, user-defined call tagging and qualification, quick-view call summaries, and sentiment analysis. As a Growth Product team, we are collaborating with multiple Product Managers and our Customer and Product Marketing partners to help promote and gain adoption of this new product so that it’s a success for our users and the business.
Whether you are new to Product Management or have years of experience, applying traditional product management skills and frameworks to modern roles and problems will deliver engaging experiences for your users that drive real business results. Your experience in curating discovery, defining a problem, partnering on a delightful design, testing your theories, and launching new products can all be applied to Growth Product Management as you broaden your attention to the user and the business.