It’s hard to believe it now, but there was a time when product management was a little-known field. Now, top universities have product management degree programs, PM jobs are among the most sought-after, and conferences for product professionals are popping up all over the place.
As product management grows and evolves, new roles are gaining prominence. Product ops, unheard of just a few years ago, is now a dedicated role within over half of product teams. And product is more likely to report up to a chief product officer (CPO) — a title that didn’t exist until recently — than a CMO or CTO.
Below are four brand-new product roles that we think are poised for a big increase in influence and importance. Whether you’re a product leader looking to grow your team, or a product person looking for a new position, keep these four job titles in mind.
Product communications manager
Consider the “traditional” communications manager, who is responsible for press releases, media outreach and pitches, external promotions, corporate brand language, and public relations. The product communications manager does many of the same things but centered on the product and its capabilities. They build the reputation of not just the company or brand, but the product itself.
Typically, product communications managers don’t come from a product management background. Instead, they have experience in corporate comms, public relations, journalism, or product marketing. However, they have to know the ins-and-outs of the product to communicate their value effectively. This means understanding what specific features do and don’t do and how product changes and updates will impact the customer experience. Also, they should have in-depth knowledge of the product’s positioning within the competitive landscape.
Obviously, strong written and spoken communication skills, as well as media experience and relationships, are must-haves in this position. An understanding of the product domain is important as well.
Product content writer
A product content writer’s main job is to create in-product content that facilitates the best experience possible. This includes writing for a variety of different mediums, including user flows, pop-ups, CTA buttons, microcopy, and error messages.
Product content writers help align the brand voice with the in-product experience, creating continuity throughout the entire customer journey. As companies become more product-led, the lines between product and other teams across the organization get blurred. For example, when the goal is to get the user to convert from free to paid, is in-product copy considered marketing content, or product guidance? It’s both.
In that same vein, this role is very much rooted in collaboration. Product content writers not only partner with product managers and product owners, but work closely with the broader R&D team, marketing, sales, and customer success to ensure unified messaging at every touchpoint.
Product content designer
Similar to content writers, product content designers are focused on optimizing in-product content. However, their scope goes beyond writing copy. They are often responsible for shaping the foundation of the content (largely through research) and ensuring the users’ needs and business goals are met.
One way to think about content design is to consider how all of the different elements within the product (visuals, animations, words) should work together as a system. Simon Alovisi, principal content designer at Intuit, explained how he thinks about the role: “For me, the magic is in figuring out how to bring together all elements (visual, animation) with words; that’s really what ‘designing’ a product experience is all about.”
Rather than being handed designs with placeholder copy, content designers need to consider design from the get-go. Therefore, they should have the same understanding of design principles as the interaction designers they work with. Above all, the role of the content designer is to create in-product experiences with the users’ needs in mind.
Of these four roles, this is the most technical. The product analyst works closely with engineering, QA, IT, and the rest of the product team to help define product strategy and what to work on next. This is definitely a data-driven position. A product analyst must be comfortable with gathering product data from multiple sources, including product analytics tools and internal databases. Then, they must draw conclusions from this data and use them to inform the roadmap. In addition, they must be comfortable with assessing qualitative customer feedback and tying that into product strategy as well.
Product analysts might come from a product management background or another analytics-driven discipline, such as business intelligence. In addition to having demonstrated analytic and technical skills, this person needs to be a strong collaborator and enthusiastic team member.
Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list of new product team roles or functions. However, these four positions are sure to start showing up on more and more org charts. Plan your new hires accordingly.