What distinguishes B2B product managers from consumer product managers?

I keep hearing that consumer PMs are essentially “front-end” or UX-focused PMs. That essentially means that non-technical PMs are working on marketing strategy more than technical PMs, isn’t that right?

I’m perplexed because the majority of Google’s PMs are regarded as technical PMs. Do consumer PMs concentrate on technical duties like learning about cloud computing, DevOps, Istio, Kubernetes, etc.?

Does the product manager for Tinder or Instagram Stories give a damn about B2B duties like integrating with salespeople, working with cloud computing, etc.?

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I have been both, and following is a broad summary:

  1. Complexity and speed: Due to the lengthy sales cycle and general increased “complexity,” B2B transactions typically move more slowly. I discovered that I had to collaborate much more with many departments, including customer success, sales, operations, legal, and implementation teams. A proof of concept may take months to complete, after which it must be shown to the customer and further iterated. In contrast, A/B testing new features in customer PM may be done in a matter of hours, with feedback on which feature is most popular. In B2B transactions, the buyer is frequently not the real end user; hence, you may have many user personas. Furthermore, as you are frequently not the end user, the product is less intuitive to understand, so you will need to rely more on the sales and customer success teams for user insight.
  2. Data and metrics: varying metrics. Consumer PM has a greater psychological component, such as growth and user retention. When developing a mobile app, you’re usually dealing with millions of users; thus, additional data analysis and user psychology are required. In B2B, you usually consider ways to give the client a higher return on investment; hence, consider saving the company X dollars. In contrast to B2C, B2B can occasionally feel like you’re a waiter receiving orders from clients because they’re paying you, so it doesn’t feel as innovative and creative.

They seem to have their pros and cons.

Your observation regarding “technical” refers, in my opinion, to the nature of PM at Google or Facebook. In a different way, I discovered that my B2B experience was equally as technical as my previous consumer PM experience.

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While it is true that consumer product managers often prioritize user experience and marketing strategy, the distinction between B2B and consumer product managers goes beyond that. B2B product managers typically focus on understanding complex business needs, building relationships with key stakeholders, and developing solutions tailored to specific industries or verticals. They often work closely with sales teams to ensure their products align with the needs of enterprise customers.

Technical expertise may be important for both B2B and consumer PMs, but the emphasis on different aspects varies. B2B product managers often require a deeper understanding of the technical aspects of their products, as they may need to customize solutions for different business environments.

On the other hand, consumer product managers may prioritize user interface design and usability as they aim to create products that appeal to a wide range of individual consumers. Additionally, B2B product managers may need to navigate complex procurement processes and negotiate contracts, while consumer product managers may focus more on market research and consumer trends.

Ultimately, while both roles involve product management, the specific priorities and skill sets can differ significantly.

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B2B product managers are primarily focused on understanding the needs and requirements of businesses, as their products are designed to cater to other companies. They often work closely with sales teams and gather feedback from corporate clients to ensure their products align with specific business goals. On the other hand, consumer product managers concentrate on understanding the preferences and behaviors of individual consumers, as their products are targeted towards the general public. This involves conducting market research, analyzing consumer trends, and creating strategies to attract and retain customers in a competitive marketplace.

Consumer product managers may also collaborate with marketing teams to develop effective advertising campaigns and promotional strategies that resonate with the target audience. Additionally, they are responsible for monitoring consumer feedback and making necessary product improvements or adjustments based on customer satisfaction and demand. Eventually, their primary focus is on meeting the needs and desires of individual consumers while maximizing sales and profitability for the company.

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I’m attempting to convey that my experience with a backend Kubernetes product does not translate to domain expertise in travel or dating apps. Does this make moving from Enterprize to Consumer PM more difficult? How can we break over that barrier?

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While it is true that consumer product managers often prioritize user experience and marketing strategy, the distinction between B2B and consumer product managers goes beyond that. B2B product managers typically focus on understanding complex business needs, building relationships with key stakeholders, and developing solutions tailored to specific industries or verticals. They often work closely with sales teams to ensure their products align with the needs of enterprise customers. Technical expertise may be important for both B2B and consumer PMs, but the emphasis on different aspects varies. B2B product managers often require a deeper understanding of the technical aspects of their products, as they may need to customize solutions for different business environments. On the other hand, consumer product managers may prioritize user interface design and usability as they aim to create products that appeal to a wide range of individual consumers. Additionally, B2B product managers may need to navigate complex procurement processes and negotiate contracts, while consumer product managers may focus more on market research and consumer trends. Fundamentally, while both roles involve product management, the specific priorities and skill sets can differ significantly.

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The most effective way to prepare for consumer PM is to actually create and expand your own mobile app from scratch to finish and then grow it. Perhaps you truly work on a dating or travel-related side project in your situation. Make side projects or a portfolio. It is also expected of you to bring to the interview a wealth of creative suggestions for enhancing the product.

In addition to creating and expanding your own mobile app, another effective way to prepare for a consumer PM role is to gain experience in the industry you are targeting. This could involve working on projects or internships within the travel or dating sector, or even conducting market research and analysis to understand the needs and preferences of consumers in these domains.

By immersing yourself in the specific industry, you can develop a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities that exist, allowing you to bring valuable insights and ideas to the table when working on your mobile app. Also, gaining industry experience will help you build a network of professionals and experts who can provide guidance and support as you navigate the complexities of product management. This network can be invaluable in terms of getting feedback on your ideas, finding potential collaborators, and staying updated on the latest industry trends.

Generally, immersing yourself in the industry you are targeting will not only enhance your product but also position you as a knowledgeable and strategic product manager in the eyes of potential employers or investors.

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While technical knowledge can be beneficial for consumer product managers, it is not necessarily a requirement for the role. Consumer PMs primarily focus on understanding consumer needs, conducting market research, and identifying trends to develop products that resonate with their target audience. They may collaborate with technical teams to ensure the feasibility of product ideas, but their main focus is on the consumer experience rather than the technical intricacies of cloud computing or DevOps.

However, in certain industries or companies where technical expertise is highly valued, consumer PMs may be expected to have at least a basic understanding of technology. This could be especially true in industries such as software development or telecommunications, where a strong grasp of technical concepts can greatly enhance a consumer PM’s ability to deliver products that meet the demands of the market.

Nonetheless, the core skills required for a consumer PM are centered around market research, consumer behavior analysis, and product development rather than technical expertise. Ultimately, the effectiveness of a consumer PM lies in their ability to bridge the gap between consumer needs and the development of innovative and successful products.

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No, the product manager for Tinder or Instagram Stories would not typically be concerned with B2B duties such as integrating with salespeople or working with cloud computing. Their primary focus is on understanding consumer needs, analyzing consumer behavior, and developing products that cater to the demands of the market.

Technical expertise may not be as crucial for a consumer PM as their ability to bridge the gap between consumers and innovative product development. Their expertise lies in creating an engaging user experience and driving user adoption, rather than focusing on business-to-business functionalities. They are responsible for crafting a compelling product vision, coordinating with design and engineering teams, and ensuring that the final product meets consumer expectations.

By prioritizing consumer needs and enhancing the user experience, consumer PMs can drive revenue indirectly by attracting and retaining a large user base.

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Is experience with enterprise product management irrelevant in this situation?

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I’m reading “Building Products for the Enterprise,” a book that delves into the finer points of B2B product management. It’s a good read so far! The book provides insights into the unique considerations and strategies required when developing products for the enterprise market. By learning from the experiences and best practices shared in the book, you can enhance your skills as a product manager and apply them effectively in your own professional endeavors. Besides, it’s always beneficial to stay updated with industry literature to stay ahead of emerging trends and advancements in enterprise product management.

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In my opinion, there is still value in enterprise product management; however, to differentiate yourself from, say, a PM applicant with prior B2C product management experience, you need to go above and beyond.

No, experience with enterprise product management is not irrelevant in this situation. While the network of professionals and experts can provide valuable guidance and support, having experience in enterprise product management can give you a deeper understanding of the complexities and challenges specific to that industry. This experience can make you even more knowledgeable and strategic as a product manager, allowing you to better navigate the intricacies of enterprise product management and make informed decisions for your own products.

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The role of a consumer product manager often centers on understanding user needs, market trends, and crafting a product that resonates with consumers. While they do focus on user experience (UX) and the front-end aspects of the product, their responsibilities can encompass a wide array of tasks beyond just marketing strategy.

Regarding technical skills, the emphasis on technical knowledge can vary widely based on the product, company culture, and specific requirements of the role. Some consumer PMs might delve deeply into technical aspects, learning about cloud computing, DevOps, and related technologies if their product necessitates it. Understanding these technical concepts can help them collaborate effectively with engineering teams, make informed decisions, and communicate requirements.

For instance, a PM working on a social media platform like Instagram Stories might not be deeply involved in B2B integrations or sales but could still have a good understanding of the technical infrastructure supporting their product. They might collaborate with technical teams to ensure scalability, performance, and the smooth functioning of the app.

However, their primary focus remains on enhancing user experience, analyzing user data, identifying new features, and aligning the product roadmap with consumer needs and market trends. In larger companies like Google, there are different types of PM roles—some are more technical, while others are more user-centric or business-oriented.

The role’s exact technical emphasis can vary significantly based on the company, the specific product, and the PM’s background and interests. Generally, the product manager’s core responsibility, regardless of the product, is to bridge the gap between technical and non-technical teams, ensuring the product’s success in meeting customer needs and business goals.

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The role of a consumer product manager can vary significantly depending on the company, product, and team structure. While some consumer product managers might have a stronger focus on front-end or user experience (UX), it’s not accurate to say that non-technical PMs primarily work on marketing strategy. In fact, product management often involves a blend of technical, business, and user-focused responsibilities.

Here are some points to consider regarding consumer product managers and their responsibilities:

  1. Technical Knowledge: Consumer PMs typically don’t need to delve deeply into technical aspects like cloud computing, DevOps, or Kubernetes unless their product specifically involves these technologies. However, having a basic understanding of these technologies might be beneficial for communication with technical teams and making informed decisions.

  2. Focus on User Experience: UX and front-end aspects are crucial for consumer-facing products. Product managers in this domain often prioritize understanding user needs, conducting user research, and collaborating with designers and engineers to create a seamless and engaging user experience.

  3. Business Strategy: While technical knowledge is useful, consumer product managers are often more focused on defining product strategy, setting roadmaps, prioritizing features, and achieving business goals. This might involve market analysis, competitive research, pricing strategies, and more.

  4. B2B vs. B2C: Product managers for consumer-facing products like Tinder or Instagram Stories primarily concentrate on improving the user experience, acquiring new users, engagement, and retention. Their focus is less on B2B integrations unless the product specifically involves such partnerships.

  5. Company Variations: Companies like Google might have different expectations for their product managers. Google typically looks for technical expertise in their PMs because of the nature of their products, which are often deeply technical and involve platforms like cloud services or AI.

In summary, while technical knowledge can be advantageous for any product manager, consumer product managers typically prioritize user experience, product strategy, and business goals over deep technical expertise. However, this can vary based on the company, product, and the specific needs of the role.

Understanding the context and the specific responsibilities outlined in a job description for a consumer product manager role will give you a clearer idea of the expectations and focus of that particular position.