What is a Growth PM?

I have seen a lot of articles and so-called growth gurus or organizations like Reforge, etc, promoting this notion of Growth teams and PMs. I am wondering how the skillset differ from “regular” PMs? Aren’t Growth PMs more like Technical Marketers?

Any examples are welcome!

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A PM broadly defines someone who manages a product. So, a “growth” PM manages the growth part of the product (email, in-app, etc.). It’s slightly similar to PMM, but IMO the difference is that the growth PM has to set the roadmap of what tools are built and experiments run to enable growth. Also, growth PMs are more tightly tied to revenue and engagement metrics.

Similar to the differences between a core product PM and platform PM. There’s no difference in a smaller org, but specializations are needed in a bigger org when the scope of responsibility is too much for a generalist PM to handle it all.

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@MarcoSilva, definitely not similar to a PMM. But as you mentioned the growth PM role could encompass a broad range. I usually see a growth PM as a product manager that solely focuses on user acquisition features. Example: Robinhood’s referral program features or Slack’s freemium capabilities.

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@JesusRojas, I agree. Growth PM typically means growing user base. And mostly focuses on acquisition.

They’re not the same as pm but they work very closely with marketing teams, as they’re the ones who do a lot Performance marketing which directly contributed to growth.

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I think this is a good explanation. I do see situations where companies just basically renamed PMMs to Growth Product Managers, but I don’t think that was what the concept is supposed to be about. Curious though, where you see companies with Growth PMs do they have a separate PMM function?

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@AngelaBlue, yes, but again, mostly in bigger orgs. Those orgs also split out PMM functions into inbound and outbound. It gets fairly confusing sometimes where the lines are drawn in terms of ownership though.

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I would also add differences between Growth PMs and Growth Marketers. If all you’re doing is optimizing funnels, then why not work as Growth Marketer?

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Agreed with most of the comments above. I’m currently a Growth PM at a public company, and the definition of the role has shifted based on company need. Initially it was all about optimizing for sign-ups – email acquisition, working on registration/sign in funnels, working on metrics and funnels from ad spend, etc. Then it became more of a focus on re-engaging long-inactive users – everything from new content to bring them in to new funnels for re-registering them. Now it’s becoming more about cross-pollination of features, finding ways to get users who engage with one product set introduced to others (plus everything else listed above).

I own some products (most notably our version of “friending” other users, as that’s been a big growth driver), I develop smaller features to test out, I own our email management services like Validity, etc. What I love about Growth, though, is how open ended it can be. Anything I want to try is on the table, and the success metrics are very clear. It’s super easy to know if I’m performing well or not.

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Hi there. Would you mind if I asked how, you got your current position and what your interview was like? I’ve been in CRM/lifecycle marketing for most of my career and am familiar with the work scope you mentioned — lead generation, retention, re-engagement, and cross-sell/upsell.
But I’m looking to get into PM, and it sounds like a Growth PM might be more of a suitable role for me. I’ve been looking but it seems like companies are looking for seasoned PMs so trying to figure out how I can stand out.

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@AlbertChappel, Sure! I’ve taken a really unique/weird path. I went to college to study film and worked in television for 5 years after school before starting to feel like a cog in a machine, not getting to be creative in the way I’d intended for my career.

I quit and moved to SF without a job back in 2012, having little idea what I wanted to do but knowing there would be a variety of opportunities. Got a job at an early stage AdTech startup (~18 employees at the time) as a temp doing data entry work. A month into it, their customer support person got promoted; I expressed interest and was given the role. Flash forward a couple of years and I’ve worked my way up to managing a team of account managers but started to feel myself getting into a rut again. The company was still ~25-30 employees at that point and didn’t have a product manager (we’d hired a couple that didn’t work out for various reasons). Again, I expressed interest in the role, and given my strong performance at the company in everything else I’d done, I was given an opportunity. Spent a couple of years doing product there, a couple years doing product at another early-stage startup focused on airline logistics, and then got my current role. I wasn’t really looking for Growth, but I knew the company was a good one, got referred in, and got the job.

My interview process was pretty basic, thankfully; I’m terrible at FAANG-style product interviews. Our company now requires full case studies from PM interviews, I was one of the last not to have to do that. The fact that I was referred in by an engineer I’d worked with before helped; I think the scrappy nature of my resume also helped.

So, my advice to you would be to find a smaller company where opportunities emerge more often (for better or worse). Prove yourself in the marketing role, take every opportunity to engage with the product team (if there is one; or the engineering team if not) to help building out features that relate to your marketing work, funnels and ad tracking and all of that. After you’ve established yourself, talk to your manager about your interest in product and make the case from there. The more you can point to products you’ve helped build or influence, the better (heading into my first product role, I’d led development of what became our biggest new revenue generating feature in years…that helped me).

My take on being a PM: the three most important tenets are arguably 1) how well you know your own product; 2) how well you know your customers; 3) how well you communicate across teams to achieve measurable objectives. Having time at a company before trying to transition into a product role helps you with all three, more so than trying to jump straight into your first product role at a new company.

That said - there’s no harm in trying to get product / associate product manager roles in the meantime :slight_smile: Good luck to you!

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As someone who is obligated to leverage these during interviews (despite my protests) they’re really just in place to confirm diligence rather than judge performance on any level. To be honest, I glance at them during morning coffee before the interviews just to know the time will be well spent with the candidate.

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@JoelSchulman, Yeah, that’s my perspective as well. My interviews at bigger companies have all been on the spot case studies rather than prepared ones, and I struggle more with that. I literally had an interview process where I was told my Execution interview was one of the best the interviewer had ever seen and my Product Sense was awful, so they brought me in to do them again; the next time it was the exact opposite, great PS but bad Execution. I just tend to freeze up and/or overthink things, I wear down over a 4+ hour interview day, and I honestly never really know what they’re looking for in those moments, but I’m working on it (not that I have any interest in leaving my company right now).

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@DonovanOkang, It’s literally all just one big stress test in the end but what we really want to see is your leadership skills come out at that stage in the interview. Product Sense can only come from real experience in the business/market the company is competing in. If any interviewer is coming into the interview with Product Sense expectations that don’t align with the candidate’s track record that’s on them and I have actually had to correct colleagues in the past who have failed to take the time to look over resumes/case studies and adjust their questions to those. Drives me insane.

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Thank you so much! This was really helpful :slight_smile: Your journey sounds amazing and I applaud you for getting to where you are now.

And yes, I agree about finding a smaller company. I’ve always worked at startups and love it because I get to work closely with the engineering, product, and customer service teams. I think my best bet would be making the switch internally within the company.

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@AlertChappel, Thanks! I think the biggest thing for being able to make that shift is to have a supportive manager. I got lucky at that first company with a few different great ones.

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Great Discussion! Am getting to learn a lot. Could someone please elaborate more on the success metrics and the fact that’s easy to know if you’re performing well or not? Some examples would be really helpful

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Our marketing team wouldn’t be responsible for anything built by engineering whereas that’s most of what I do, but I’m sure different companies do it differently! Growth is absolutely one of the more esoteric/vaguely defined fields.

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@RichardsonEva, do you have some examples of what the engineering built for growth? Also, how did that compare to feature (assuming they built some feature) development on Core Product Teams?

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@PouyaTaaghol

Sure - it really runs the gamut. Some examples:

  • Registration/sign in funnels + FTUE (first time user experience) - pages and mobile both, including segment tracking, ID management, etc. We’re working on enabling web users to sign in via QR code on their mobile app now.
  • Profile duplication/re-registration (we found it was easier for some long-dormant users to simply re-register, so we enable them to find their profile and go through the funnel again, duplicating certain features of the profile, identifying the original profile that was duplicated, deleting the old profile
  • “friending” other users - “people you may know” algorithms, dedicated pages for finding users, development of distinct network concepts, measuring affinity, automated emails and notifications, and downstream effects
  • personalized data-driven articles - we take publicly available datasets and aggregate them into insights for the individual user, only available to that authenticated user
  • variable authentication states - we built a state that automatically signs users into a subset of the platform upon clicking an email sent to their primary account, while requiring full authentication for anything that requires a higher level of security
  • email delivery - we use an in-house email delivery platform that we built rather than something like hubspot

None of that is stuff that our marketing team would be able to develop in a product-driven manner. I’ve also worked on the enterprise version of one of our feature subsets; very different challenges with that team but the product process is largely the same. The biggest difference with Growth is how cross-functional it is; nearly anything we work on ends up involving a product or feature that another team owns, which is something I really enjoy about the role.

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Thanks a lot for sharing these examples! You mentioned a very interesting point on the last paragraph regarding how cross-functional the role is and the fact that you get involved in features or products that other teams own.

How does that work in terms of team setups (core team vs growth team sprints?) and how do you break up work between your team and the core team?

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