The role of the Growth Product Manager is becoming increasingly common in organizations that follow a product-led growth strategy. But there’s still a lot of uncertainty around defining the role, and how businesses can create a strategy that informs and even strengthens product work.
The highest-impact products solve business problems, and the best business strategies enable high-impact products. However, it seems the business side of the house and the product side are often at odds with each other.
Does it really need to be this way though?
We asked SurveyMonkey’s very own Growth Product Manager, Cassie Peretore, a few key questions ahead of her talk at the Product-Led Festival, to gain some insight into the Growth PM, some advice and some inspiration...
Q: You’ve not had a traditional path to product, can you tell us about how your background in consulting has led to your role as Growth PM?
A: I always knew that I wanted to move into tech after consulting. After I'd done two years in consulting, I decided to make that jump and began working in Operations at Uber Eats. While working on the Operations side, I learned so much about how to grow a business, but I felt limited by the levers available to me and by the silos between Operations and Product.
I started to crave the ability to think both with a business and product mindset, as I felt that these two groups would be so much more powerful if they could speak each other's language better. I decided that becoming a Growth PM was the right move for me because Growth PMs often saddle business strategy and product management.
Q: Growth PM can mean different things at different organizations - how does SurveyMonkey define the role?
A: Growth PMs grow and optimize products rather than build them. We are typically not involved in product development, and we often work on more than one product at a time. Growth PMs are usually brought in once a product has been built, launched, and already has some traction - then, the Growth PM will come in and speed adoption of it.
The specific role of a Growth PM totally depends on their scope and what product(s) they are working to grow, but at least in my case, my role is to facilitate customer acquisition on our website. In a nutshell, our website is my product, and I run experiments to reduce friction and improve conversion.
Q: Why do you think it's important to be data-driven but customer-inspired in order to drive growth?
A: It's important because neither quantitative nor qualitative data tells the whole story. This is a core belief at SurveyMonkey, where we help you collect both. Quantitative data can uncover problem areas and help you describe what is going wrong, but qualitative data is needed in order to tell you why it is going wrong. Quantitative data is, after all, aggregate data. Nuanced user problems won't be apparent just from looking at the aggregate.
And on the flip side, a handful of customer stories alone can't define your product roadmap because it will only account for a subset of user experiences. These types of data are absolutely complementary, and together, they empower you with an understanding of the problem and how to actually solve it.
Q: You mention in your talk at the Product-Led Festival that the business side of organizations and the product side are often at odds - why do you think this is?
A: This is often a result of organizational structure and goal setting. Organizations that keep the business and products sides of the house separate will often find themselves solving different problems rather than working toward a common goal.
Sometimes, these parts of the organization are also working toward entirely different critical objectives (COs) that aren't necessarily complementary, which means that they will butt heads when working to achieve them. If Business and Product only talk to each other when they need the other to do something, then the company will miss out on bigger opportunities.
Q: What advice do you have for PMs (growth or not!) who want to bridge the gap between business and product strategy and goals?
A: On a company and leadership level, set the same COs for everyone to ensure that they're working toward a common goal but executing autonomously. On a middle management and individual contributor level, meet with the business side often and build relationships there. You will find that great opportunities come up as a result.
For example, the business side may be more keen to allocate additional funds to your product if they've been looped in along the way about what business problems your product is solving, or they might share really useful analyses that inform a customer pain point you've been trying to solve for a while. This knowledge sharing goes a long way, and it won't happen naturally unless you start to build rapport. And of course, return the favor - if your business counterparts have been helpful to you, share your relevant findings with them as well.
Q: Why is it important to you to bring your true self to work?
A: I believe this is true no matter the role you have. It's really challenging to build trust unless you're being yourself. People can tell when you're not being genuine or you're projecting an image. By being yourself at work, you accomplish many things:
1) You more easily gain trust with your coworkers, reports, leaders, etc.
2) You are more human in your decision-making and your treatment of others. After all, we're all human beings at work with obstacles, anxieties, and stress. If you're all business and no personal, you won't empathize adequately with others.
3) You set an example for others that it's okay for them to be themselves at work, too. Especially as a leader, this is so important and directly impacts team culture and satisfaction at work.
Be sure to check out Cassie’s session at the Product-Led Festival on March 23rd!
It’ll explore how to integrate business and product strategies to help you ship the right products to the right markets. Whether you're hoping to apply business strategy to your product work or simply work better with your business partners, this talk is for you.