Copyright: Goran Begic

What Every Product Manager Should Know About Their Product

Goran Begic
Lean Product
Published in
6 min readFeb 22, 2021


Disclaimer: All the views and opinions expressed here are my own.

Some of the views here are skewed towards high-tech software, B2B (“Business to Business”), and commercial offerings. If you are a product manager working on an internal, not for sale project, or if you are in a consumer market, some of the answers will be trivial, or not applicable.

Working with Ambiguities

One of the biggest challenges in product management is dealing with ambiguities (and everybody’s perceptions of these ambiguities). One way to approach the challenge is by reducing ambiguity about the key aspects of your product offerings.

Here are the eight topics that every product manager should master:

  1. Product Name

Surely a product manager knows exactly how their product appears on a sales contract or a price list, right? Unfortunately, things are not always clear or straightforward when it comes to the product name.

Consider the specific offerings that are created and offered for sale, as well as trademarks and registered names that are a part of your product name. In some cases, it is helpful to note how the product is being referred to internally at your organization.

A product manager should always know the exact level of detail regarding the names of her products, the offerings, your product’s brand, and name recognition.

2. Product License and Price (Value)

Reading (or sometimes creating) a product license may be the most tedious part of a product manager’s work. Luckily it is not something that we need to do frequently. Sometimes a product license complements a comprehensive master agreement, or there is an open-source license.

On internal projects, the IP (Intellectual Property) is typically attributed in the source code, and the right to use is less of a concern. Either way, you should know what restrictions are associated with the right to use your product.

Price is a way to express product value. It is closely related to the right to use. Also related to the product price and the right to use is the unit of measure. Your product is likely priced and licensed relative to some aspect of its use (data volume, number of CPUs, named users, number of uses, etc.). If somebody asks, these are all elementary topics that a product manager should know, even if nobody specifically asked you to learn about the P&L (Pricing and Licensing) of your product.

Hint: Open up the price book if you have one and note all the SKUs (“Stock Keeping Unit”) related to your product currently offered for sale. If you don’t have a price book, make sure you are familiar with the offers and prices as your customers see them.

3. Key Use Cases

One of the typical pitfalls of a high-tech product is that it is easy to start every description of the product with “it’s a framework for…” or “a platform for <insert many possible uses here>.

As a product manager, you need to trim that list of possibilities to just a few essential uses. “Use case” is an overloaded term. To me, this is a short description describing how the users realize the product value.

For example, one of the primary use cases for mind mapping software is brainstorming. At a very high-level, brainstorming is a set of activities that people do individually or as a team to identify ideas and new approaches towards solving challenges, puzzles, etc. Another mind mapping use case is project planning. The value of mind mapping is its ability to help me brainstorm, not in the mere fact that it is a graphical tool.

The few high-level use cases that you need to articulate effectively define the whole product. They describe how your clients consume the value delivered by your product.

Note that you will also want to keep a close eye on how the product generates value to you, the provider, and how much each of the different use cases costs you.

4. Top 10 Paying Customers (Segments)

One of the benefits of managing internal projects is that it is easier to identify the departments using your product and perhaps even fund your work.

The same is likely the case with B2B startups who may not even have the customer number 10 yet. In many other situations, you need to make an effort to learn about your customer base.

Hint: Start with the top 10 paying customers, the price they pay for your product, and their use cases.

In a more consumer-oriented market, substitute paying customers with your most relevant market segments and personas (demographics, geography, affiliation, etc.).

5. Target Market

How would you describe your target market in ten words or less?

Like the other topics listed here, there are many different ways to answer the question and many plausibly valid answers.

What is the statement that best describes the efforts you are leading, the market problems you are trying to address, and everything else you may have considered up to this point?

Hint: The answer to this question will evolve as you evolve your understanding of the market. Pick the best one to start and use it to help you address other ambiguities along the way. When you learn more and come up with a better answer, repeat the process.

6. First Contact

I’m trying not to use marketing terminology here because we are discussing the very basics. Where do your customers learn about your product for the first time? By now, you already recognize where I am going with this. Anybody can provide an average answer to this question. As a product manager, your answer needs to be great and backed by data.

What is the critical generator of interest in your product? Is it an analyst report where you faired well? Is it word of mouth, or another product of yours, or your business partners? Is it perhaps your investor’s Rolodex? Having a clear answer to this question will help you make important decisions like where not to invest your team’s time.

7. Main Product Content

What is your best asset that describes the product, its value, the key use cases, and the proof points?

This asset could be a web page, a video, a whitepaper, a demo script, a blog post, or some third-party review. If you were to keep just a few pieces of content about your product, what would that be?

Hint: instead of making 15 more average descriptions of your product, make one or two of the most valuable pieces of content great. If you have never done anything like this before, start by creating an inventory of what you have.

8. Top Promotors

Who is the most critical ally in your effort to grow the offering?

Hint: It’s always a person, never a feature.

The ally may be a salesperson who brought the most clients last quarter. It could be the support person who ensured that your customers get the value that they expected. It could also be your CEO, who is always in front of potential customers.

Learn more about your top promotor, the methods and materials that they use, and how they use them. Please find out how you can help your top promoters and, most importantly, learn from them.

In Conclusion

Hopefully, you enjoyed this list, and it has generated some ideas on what you could do to ensure that you have clear, unambiguous answers for each of these eight aspects of your product.

What other information about your product do you consider extremely important for a product manager to know? How would your list of eight things to know about the product look like?

Feel free to leave your comment below, or DM me at @gbegicw.



Goran Begic
Lean Product

Offering manager at Broadcom. Interested in innovations that solve real-life problems. Always learning.