Top 10 mistakes product managers make and how to avoid them

1 - Confusing Customer Wants and Needs With Product Requirements When it comes to the customer, the product manager wants the customer to...

1 - Confusing Customer Wants and Needs With Product Requirements
When it comes to the customer, the product manager wants the customer to be happy. He will talk to the customer and formulate a list of everything the customer wants and needs from the product. But the customer doesn't always know what they need or want. Or what they want is not possible or feasible.
Since customers don't necessarily know what is possible, they rely on you to inform them, whether they know it or not.

Related post: Top 7 free and paid product management courses

2 - Mistaking Innovation for Value
Innovation needs a purpose. There are tons of products on the market that exist simply because they can, not because they solve a problem, or because they are better than similar products.
What motivates one designer may not motivate another. Engineers love the challenge and will use new tech if they can, regardless of whether there is a need for the product. What is important is that innovation happens within the context of a vision and a strategy; that is the only way to provide customer value.
3 - Confusing Yourself With Your Customer
It can be very easy to consider yourself the target customer. This is always a bad idea, because you never want to consider yourself a proxy for your customer. We apply different standards to what we want, than to what the customer wants.
For example, you might be able to use and learn a new software program easily, because you work in the tech field. However, the target customer may not be so technologically advanced, and have great difficulty using the product. He or she might find it confusing or overwhelming. This means the product is unusable.
Or, as a product manager, you may get excited for new features and releases, while the customer may not even consider new changes or features necessary. They may not want to have to install a new update, or learn about the new features.
It's important that product managers put their products in front of the target audience, and that the product manager listens to their responses, keeping their perspective in mind. This is why product management teams should utilize usability testing.
4 - Confusing the Customer With the User
Remember, the customer is who BUYS the product, and the user is who USES the product. Who do you think you should satisfy first?
The person who buys the product probably has a different reason than the person who uses it. For example, ABC is developing software for XYZ Hotels. Is it more important that XYZ likes the product, or that the XYZ employees using the product like it?
Sales people usually understand the difference, but the product team often misses the mark. It is essential for the product team to understand the types of people that will be using the software.
Staples buys thousands of titles of software each year. However, the user is different from Staples, which is a large company. What works for Staples is totally different than what works for the user.
5 - Mistaking Features for Benefits
A feature is not always the same as a benefit. As the product developer, it can be easy to fall in love with your product's features, and neglect to think about what benefits those features may provide.
The product has to have a clear and compelling reason for being. The target market must be understood, and that market must see that your product solves a problem. It is also possible that the product is perfect for your target market, but the message is too complicated to understand. If a quick one-minute elevator pitch doesn't sell the target customer, then the message is wrong.
6 - Confusing Building the Right Product with Building Product Right
A development team can build the most perfect piece of software. It can be bug-free, fast, and work perfectly. But if the user doesn't see any value in the product, is the product still perfect? Of course not.
The product has to be implemented so that it works reliably and performs, as it should. However, you will have wasted a lot of time if the product isn't useful.
Software development teams must always keep these questions in mind when building out the product. Quality assurance usually helps on this end of the process.
Interested in learning more? Why not take an online class in Product Management?
7 - Mistaking Good Product With Good Business Model
You can have the greatest product in the world, but without a good business model, the product will fail. Think of the TiVo product. It was a huge success, since people generally do not like commercials. However, the TV industry needs commercials.
So TiVo worked with the TV industry and found a business model that worked. The customers liked the change, and were happy that they could still quickly move through commercials.
8 - Mistaking Adding Features With Improving Product
When a product is failing, the product team usually rushes to find new features that will hopefully fix the problems, and hope that the customer will purchase the new features.
However, this strategy rarely works. Adding new features can often make the problem worse, since it makes the product more complex for the user. A successful product team will continually improve the product, which means making the product more usable for a wider audience of customers.
9 - Mistaking Impressive Specifications With an Impressive Product
Many teams follow their product's lifecycle, and produce complete requirements and designs. However, these specifications don't necessarily mean that the customer will buy the product.
Especially with high-tech software products, users must be able to use the product and determine whether or not they want to buy it. Teams may place too much trust in specs and don't realize it is worthless if customers cannot figure out how to use the product, or don't even care to use it, because they see no value.
10 - Mistaking a Complete Product With a Sellable Product
If your company is not set up to distribute and sell the product, then the greatest product in the world won't sell. You must look at the company's structure and business model and determine whether the product can be supported in the current model.
It is easier to change the product to fit within the company structure and business model, than to change the company to meet the needs of your product.
This is important to remember, if there are any changes in the company business strategy.

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