In the marketing sense, a product champion is your new product's best friend. In fact, they are the key to making sure the product is produced, distributed, and marketed well.
Having a product champion on board can do a number of good things for everyone involved in making the product, and putting it into the hands of the end-user. However, becoming a product champion means getting into the mindset of one, and adopting their attributes - both personal and professional.
In this guide, you'll learn what it takes to become a product champion, and how to develop a deep understanding of the entire product life-cycle. In addition, you'll learn how to upgrade yourself from a product owner or manager, and develop control over what the end-user gets.
Let's get into it.
What is a Product Champion? A 2020 Definition
The short answer is: A product champion is someone who sees a product as valuable, and dedicates time and effort to making sure its created and received well among users.
If the champion is a member of the product's host company (think product managers, marketers, executives, etc.) they may also keep the product in the minds of the investors, and everyone involved with the product team in any way.
To understand how to become a product champion, we really have to look at it from the perspective of 'what is a product champion in 2020'. This is because championing your new product and making sure that everyone (from the product team to the users) sees it as a successful product, is different today.
Why is Product Championing Different Today?
It has a lot to do with technology.
Before, a product would have different champions, depending on where it was in its life cycle. The executives would champion it to entice investors. Then, the production manager(s) took over and made sure the product stood up to users' expectations. Throughout this process, the marketing team would continue to sell the idea of the product and advocate it to the general public.
Later on, the product development manager(s) got involved and bridged the gap between the different parties.
While this method still exists today, there has been an evolution of sorts in the industry.
Today, users gauge the quality and performance of a product by looking at online reviews. They also want to know how different it is from the many existing alternates out there. All of this leaves the product champion with a lot of bases to cover. This is where the role of the influencer comes in.
One person, who:
- Has strong product knowledge
- Is passionate about the product and the solution it provides
- Can generate interest around the product, among the stakeholders
- Oversees the production phase, making sure the product is innovative and high-quality
- Gets the market hyped about the product launch
- Helps market (or directly markets) the product, throughout the cycle
- Takes insights from the first launch, and uses it to improve the next product iteration
In short, being a product champion is about taking an interest in a product and ensuring that the people who make it and use it, love it.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Product Champion
Here's what you can do to develop the product champion mindset and affiliate yourself with your product a hundred percent.
1) Become in-tune with the product philosophy
Regardless of your role in the product's lifecycle, you need to learn why it exists, what problems it solves, how it compares to the competition, and what the market thinks of it. In short, become an end-to-end expert on the product.
You can do this by:
- Talking to the product innovation team, and learning the product strategy (why it exists in the market).
- Consulting with the production staff and learning what goes into making the product.
- Coordinating with the marketing team and knowing what the market sees about the product before adopting it.
- Looking at user reviews and sales insights to learn what the public thinks of the product.
Know the real product that's behind the industry jargon, and carry that knowledge into every conversion you have regarding it.
2) Work on ways to improve product quality
The innovators who come up with ideas for products are more 'idea people' than quality control personnel. As a product champion, it'll be your responsibility to keep the product quality up to and beyond set standards.
Do this by:
- Learning what customers expect from a product like this
- Finding out how well competitor products are made
- Creating a list of potential improvements to the product and working with production teams to implement them
- Gathering customer feedback and market insights, and relaying the information to the concerned teams
Consistently work on improving the product, and make sure the improvements are reflected in the messaging (aka the marketing).
3) Improve project management
Efficient project management is the backbone of a good product. Work on ways to streamline project managers so that everyone involved can focus on vital elements, such as, technological innovation and backlog refinement.
You can accomplish this by:
- Researching and implementing project management software
- Eliminating management redundancies to give project management staff more room to improve the product
- Updating information systems to keep an eye on the product's performance throughout its lifetime
Streamline how the product is managed in-house and allow more time for innovation and constant improvement.
4) Create clever marketing strategies
Marketing is a creative playground for a product champion. Come up with new and interesting ways to engage the customer base and make lifelong followers out of them.
To do this, consider:
- Exploring new marketing channels such as video streaming, interactive media, and social media platforms
- Make the messaging more engaging and user-centric, instead of direct and sales-y
- Turn the marketing message into an experience for the audience, which entices them to adopt
- Getting into influencer marketing, creating other virtual product champions
Consistent branding across channels improves product revenue. Make sure your product's branding reflects all the effort that goes into making it.
5) Implement customer feedback
The customer will tell you exactly what they are looking for in the product. It'll be your job to use that feedback, and improve the product to where it stands up to the messaging and customer expectation.
You can do this by:
- Scouring through customer review boards, or wherever people are likely to comment on the product
- Finding the common themes in reviews to gather actionable insight
- Working with production teams to come up with efficient ways to implement the findings
Add the improvements you make by listening to the customers into the marketing message.
Wrapping it Up
It's safe to assume that everyone working on a product is invested in it to some degree. For a product champion, however, it’s a complete, all-around investment. They need to adopt the product as their baby, and give their all to ensuring its success.
Regardless of whether the product is something everyday consumers would use or a software system, you need to approach it with a championing mindset, one that wants to see it perform well beyond what the host company and its users hope for.