Leveraging product management during a crisis

The morning after the COVID-19 burst has left a lot of companies’ future uncertain. With the closure of the retail stores and the danger of the pandemic, most of them have seen their revenue shrinking drastically. As a result, companies have turned to eCommerce to maintain a positive balance and keep on driving revenue. Professionals and executives are under pressure to find ways to maintain their online traffic, increase conversions and drive revenues via their online channels. Teams have started brainstorming on initiatives, focusing mostly on short-term solutions while building department silos, and not sharing information. But, can this approach benefit them?

Let me clarify that it might be hard to survive a crisis like this one, if your company hasn’t already invested in a strong online presence. Unless your online budget is very high, building an online brand presence from scratch can be very time consuming, and the results will take a long time to show. Getting the basics right will give a competitive advantage against any other companies that are now striving to find a way to drive online revenue.

Performance, SEO, content optimization and good UX are those elements that can help your company stand out and further enhance your online presence.

Making sure your website is available and fast when the users need it, indexed high on the search result pages (SERPs) organically and having content that is going to complement your brand and further allow you to stand out, are important elements for a company.

If your company belongs to that category, then act fast! By assessing those elements, coming up with a recovery plan and implementing your approach, you can further work on a presence which will allow your company to stand out. Although miracles cannot happen overnight when it comes to SEO, you’ll be able to improve your long-term SERP ranking, and enable your company to have a better index presence in the long run.

For all those who have built a robust online presence already and are working on ways to keep their company afloat, it’s important to exit the panic mode. By building silos you miss out on cross-functional opportunities that will help your company stand out or even save costs. Product management, due to its pivotal and cross functional positioning, can offer insights that will facilitate discussions and drive outcomes.

How can product management really help?

Product managers keep in mind the users in everything they do.They invest their time understanding what the shopping behaviors, underserved needs and jobs-to-be-done are. They are dedicating a lot of their time diving into data, coming from tracking tools, customer service logs or usability tests they run. They work with personas and target audiences, and have a clear idea of who their customer segment is.

For every decision taken, a lot of supporting data and user centric thinking is applied. That is why you may hear them say ‘No’ very often. It’s not that an idea isn’t good, it’s just that the value it brings may be lower that thought, or the supporting data isn’t favorable, if there’s any at all.

Their knowledge is very useful. They can help you identify the short-term solutions which will enable your company to stand out, but also identify the long-term solutions which will allow your company to be ahead of the competition when the recession is over. They will do their best to help you understand your customer, and in that sense enable you to make optimal decisions.

Product managers know the technical limitations and capabilities of the software used by a company. They can advise on the best ways to implement marketing activities or technical issues that may arise due to a certain approach. Most importantly, they can provide alternatives. They can communicate all possibilities currently supported, or even provide an estimation for implementing new requests, which may add a lot of value to a company’s bottom line, in a short time, and with minimum effort.

During recession times, it’s important to approach the situation as an opportunity to re-evaluate and innovate. Just think of the startups founded during the last recession: Uber, Airbnb, Slack, Pinterest, WhatsApp Inc. Square and Venmo are only a few to mention. Their future was uncertain at the time, however by understanding their target audience and their underserved needs they managed to build strong brands that bring value to their users. And guess what. Their users stick with them. Because what was once an underserved need for them, is now met by products that add value to them.

Together with your product managers you can find a way to create solutions to existing or new needs that will arise because of the circumstances. You just need to be ahead of the game. And the product managers can help you do that. They know frameworks and techniques that will allow for that to happen. They can help create long-term solutions that will allow your company to be ahead of the competition when everything is back to normal. Be creative and think outside the box. At the end, this is what product managers are also known for.