The 6 P’s of Product Management

Why the Marketing Mix of 4 P’s is insufficient for Product Managers

The Marketing Mix (or 4 P’s) is a concept being taught in one of the first lectures of any marketing or MBA programs. According to this framework, the marketing person should consider four specific areas to ensure product success: the Product and its capabilities, its Price, the Place where it will be available (e.g. in stores, online ordering etc.) and the Promotion (marketing campaign) that would raise awareness to it in the market. However, during my career in product management, I found this model to be somewhat biased towards the “outbound” marketing of the product, and not specific enough to address the needs of a product manager who drives the product from inception. Something was missing…

I have therefore started using an extended framework, which I called the “Product Manager’s 6 P’s”. Now the name is not new and others were using 6 P’s as well, but they mostly extended it to the right, towards the marketing and sales aspect, and not to the product inception phase. There is no clear guidance in the Marketing Mix how to get to the right product.

My Product Manager’s 6 P’s therefore include: Persona, Pain-point, Product, Price, Place and Promotion. The two added components at the beginning of the process are essential for a successful product. When a product manager is exploring the options for a new product or features, two key questions that must be asked include:

The Product Manager’s 6 P’s
  • Who will be using/purchasing my product or service? Who are these personas?
  • What are the pain-points that these personas have, so that my product/service can address them and resolve those issues for them?

The definition of the user persona is critical to ensure the product is of interest for them. For example, a smartphone designed for younger users, will aim to have higher resolution, smaller fonts and maximum content on the screen, while the same device targeted for senior citizens would likely aim for larger fonts and simplified layout, with less content on each screen. Of course these two distinct and very different modes of operations do not always mean separate products, and they could be achieved by different settings, but from overall usability they appear as very different offerings. Moreover, for the product manager, whose job involves continuously prioritizing between features to meet release dates with limited development resources, this may imply an important decision – which target customer segment should be approached first in the first release, the younger or older users.

Once the user persona is defined, the next question would address the pain-points which the product or service aims to address. Products should address a certain pain-point to be successful, otherwise the users will not bother adopting them. The pain-points (or needs) are typically specific to the persona and may be different if we choose a different persona. In the example above, younger users’ pain-points would be: “how can I play online games or watch online content while I am on the road”, while older users would typically ask “how can I communicate with others while I am on the road” or “how can I find the best bus route to reach my destination”. These needs clearly guide the requirements from the product and influence how it will look like. Of course, sometimes there is an overlap, but the priorities of the pain-points may still differ for the different personas.

Product management is a marketing function, however it spans more than just the “outbound” role typically associated with marketing. Product managers also have a strategic role that requires identification of the user persona and their pain-points to define the right product. The Product Management 6 P’s can serve as such a framework to ensure the right products are being defined and implemented.

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