In the world of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), businesses that rely on their product as a crucial lever for growth are increasingly establishing growth teams. These teams, often led by a growth product manager (GPM), are dedicated to driving growth and increasing revenue through the implementation of growth-oriented strategies. In this article, we will explore the responsibilities and attributes of a successful growth product manager, as well as the differences between core product managers and growth product managers.
The Role of a Growth Product Manager
A growth product manager plays a unique role in a company’s growth strategy. They are responsible for identifying growth opportunities and directing the team’s efforts to capitalize on them. By running short-term experiments to reduce inefficiencies throughout the sales funnel, a GPM aims to improve key metrics and drive growth.
One of the distinctive aspects of the GPM role is its intersectionality between product development and marketing. From a marketing perspective, a GPM considers elements such as product-market fit, feature showcasing, pricing strategies, and enhancing user experience to optimize the conversion funnel. On the product development side, they collaborate with backend, frontend, and design teams to test hypotheses and conduct experiments.
In some cases, a GPM may even be tasked with rethinking the business model itself, highlighting their strategic role in shaping the company’s growth trajectory.
Responsibilities of a Growth Product Manager
Defining the Company’s Growth Direction: A GPM analyzes user behavior, A/B test results, and other relevant data to identify potential growth drivers or areas that require improvement. This analysis assumes the existence of an analytics infrastructure, and if necessary, the GPM will integrate SaaS analytics and A/B testing tools into the company’s tech stack.
Increasing the Customer Base and Expanding into New Markets: When a product enters the market but hasn’t been optimized for growth, the GPM focuses on increasing the lifetime value of existing customers and devising tactics to expand the customer base. For SaaS businesses with a freemium/premium model, this typically involves motivating free users to upgrade to a paid plan.
Tracking and Improving AARRR Metrics: The GPM identifies inefficiencies in the customer funnel and collaborates closely with the growth and core product teams to enhance related metrics. Improving the user and customer experience within the product is often a key approach to achieve these goals.
Differences between Core Product Managers and Growth Product Managers
While core product managers and growth product managers share common objectives related to user experience, customer satisfaction, engagement, and loyalty, there are distinct differences in their roles and focuses.
Growth PMs primarily concentrate on driving growth-oriented initiatives from a business perspective, unburdened by product boundaries. They design experiments, map out solutions for business problems, and make quick iterations to impact revenue. Every experiment is seen as a bet, and failures are regarded as valuable learning opportunities.
In contrast, core PMs tend to be more cautious and focused on delivering features that generate real value for users. They adhere to a pre-planned approach and may be less inclined to engage in experimental initiatives that disrupt the development process.
Learning from Each Other
Although growth product managers and core product managers play different roles, there are valuable lessons they can learn from one another.
Growth PMs can benefit from adopting a more qualitative approach to better understand customer needs, an area where core PMs excel. Additionally, learning effective data communication methods from core PMs can help growth PMs in understanding metrics and making informed decisions.
On the other hand, core PMs can learn from growth PMs the value of experiments as a means of learning and gaining insights. Treating failure as a valuable part of progress can open up new possibilities for core PMs, who often perceive failure as a risk to be avoided.
Attributes of a Successful Growth Product Manager
To be a successful growth product manager, certain attributes are essential:
A good growth PM possesses a strong analytical, skeptical, and curious mindset. They delve deeper into data and metrics to uncover insights and prove that their initiatives drive growth. Being numbers-focused is crucial for effective decision-making.
Effective collaboration with cross-functional teams, including engineers, designers, analysts, and marketers, requires excellent negotiation skills. A growth PM must bridge differing opinions and gain buy-in for growth experiments. They should be able to persuasively communicate their ideas and align everyone towards shared growth objectives.
Uncertainties are inherent in the world of growth experiments and tests. A successful growth PM thrives in this dynamic environment and displays a high level of adaptability. They innovate in their problem-solving approaches and prioritize speed and effectiveness over perfection. They are unafraid to iterate quickly and adjust strategies as needed.
Freedom for Experimentation
Growth PMs need the freedom to conduct experiments and iterate rapidly without being constrained by rigid structures and processes. This flexibility allows them to explore new ideas, take calculated risks, and drive innovation. A supportive organizational culture that encourages experimentation is crucial for their success.
Building Synergy between Growth and Core PMs
The relationship between growth PMs and core PMs can sometimes be complex, as their priorities and approaches may differ. However, effective communication and trust between these roles can lead to great outcomes for the company.
By recognizing and respecting each other’s areas of expertise, growth PMs and core PMs can find common ground and leverage their unique perspectives to drive product success. Collaboration and alignment on shared goals are key to overcoming potential conflicts and achieving synergies between the two roles.
Wrapping it up!
As product-led businesses in the SaaS world strive for growth, the role of a growth product manager becomes increasingly vital. By analyzing data, identifying growth opportunities, and driving growth-oriented initiatives, growth PMs play a critical role in expanding customer bases, optimizing user experiences, and increasing revenue.
While growth PMs and core PMs have distinct focuses, they can learn from each other’s strengths and perspectives. Effective collaboration, open communication, and a culture that embraces experimentation are essential to harness the full potential of both roles and drive sustainable growth in the competitive SaaS landscape.