A Product Strategist identifies new opportunities, assesses the company’s product performance, and helps develop its long-term strategic plans for future product lines. This distinguishes the role from the Product Manager (PM), although the two will work together. Whereas the PM is responsible for the market success of specific products, the product strategist takes a broader view, using research and analysis to guide the company’s overall product plans.
In some companies, product strategists are part of the product management team. In others, they report to marketing.
Note: Product strategist roles tend to be created only in large enterprises. Most companies do not have the budget to create a standalone position. Instead, these responsibilities generally fall to the company’s PMs.
What Does a Product Strategist Do?
The responsibilities of a product strategist overlap in several areas with the role of a product manager. They both learn about their user personas, identify market opportunities, and communicate product strategy to stakeholders. But in companies able to create a dedicated position, that person will typically focus on a few high-level initiatives.
Research and analysis
Product strategists research both their company’s performance and the competitive landscape to find unserved needs and market opportunities.
Rather than focusing on specific products a market is missing, they look for problems that need solving, or list for common complaints from their target market. Any of these could represent a strategic opportunity for the company to exploit.
Product strategists must think about all aspects of their company’s products: pricing, marketing, developing strategic partnerships with other businesses, etc.
When a company is preparing a new product for launch, for example, the strategist will already be identifying business partnerships to extend both the company’s reach to new users and the value of the product itself.
Positioning the business for success
According to CareerMatch.com, a product manager focuses on where the product is today. Product strategists spend most of their time and energy planning where to take the product tomorrow. This means that the responsibility of the product strategist is to focus their time and energy on planning where to take the product tomorrow.
A key aspect of the role is to think about the future of the company’s products. They develop plans for a product’s lifecycle, for example, and keep an eye on the market for potential changes that could represent new opportunities, threats, or needs to alter the product in some way.
3 Key Traits All Product Strategists Should Have
Product strategy and software development firm Venturesoft urges its product strategists to “challenge the status quo”. Here are three key traits you should have in order to challenge the status quo and optimize success in the role:
1. Entrepreneurial spirit
As a product strategist, you’ll need to think big and develop innovative ideas. You’ll need to see opportunities where others don’t. And you’ll need to know how to execute on those ideas. In other words, you will need to think and function like an entrepreneur within your company.
2. Data savvy
Effective product strategists, like effective product managers, find insights and opportunities using data—not only their gut instinct. A major part of your job will be gathering and analyzing data from your company’s performance, your users’ interactions with your products, and your competitors.
3. Superb communication skills
To succeed, you’ll need to communicate with different people and teams across your company, as well as people outside the organization. You’ll need a strong working relationship with the development, sales, and support teams, for example, to gain a deep understanding of the company’s products and users. You will also need to know how to effectively communicate a proposal for a new market or product to your executives or investors. With all of these responsibilities, you’ll need to develop outstanding communication skills to become an effective product strategist.