Some tips to help build your domain knowledge
A guide to curiosity
The natural curiosity of a Product Manager is probably what leads a lot of us down this career path. We love to know what, and why, and how. We spend our days asking the same questions to as many people as we can wrangle, trying to build a 360 foundation that lets us make tidy, informed decisions, helps us connect with our teams, our customers, our products. It’s a behaviour we all value, we all know that building out our domain knowledge can save us from bad decisions and hard conversations. So whether you’re new to product management, or diving into a new product, team or sector, here’s 5 things to help you get to speed with your new domain:
It takes a village
Whether you’re all starting a new project together, or you’re individually joining an existing team, your team is your guiding light. Seeing and hearing things from multiple perspectives is going to help you build the strongest domain foundations, so make sure you lean on your team. Take time to get to understand how they see the product, what key lessons they have learned, and what they think is the most important information that you should know.
Talk to everyone individually, understand what they know and what they aren’t certain about
Write down all your findings, run through it together as a team to sense check what you’ve understood.
Schedule regular cross-functional team meetings to foster open communication.
Use collaborative tools to share ideas, feedback, and updates in real-time.
Create an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their thoughts and suggestions.
Mind-reading your users
Who is your product for? And why do they want it?
Get to know your users, the quicker you can do this, the quicker you can get a grip on why your product is important and how it’s used. Build out detailed personas by spending time with your users, get to know them to an almost psychic level, learn how to read their minds.
Regular user interviews to gather feedback and insights.
Online survey tools to create engaging and targeted customer surveys.
Focus groups to dig deeper into specific pain points and desires.
Develop detailed customer personas with demographic, behavioural, and psychographic information
Know your industry. Like, really know it.
Cast a wide net, building domain knowledge is all about seeing things from the wide and narrow. Knowing your industry is going to help you see the bigger picture, let you pick up on trends and call out those challenges early. It’s important to know where you, your team and your product sit in your industry’s sphere, so you can focus your attention on the right things.
Subscribe to newsletters and blogs in your industry for regular updates.
Create a list of influential figures to follow on social media and engage with their content.
Find industry conferences, webinars, and workshops to connect with experts and stay up-to-date.
Be hands on, literally
Use. Your. Product.
Get your hands on your product as soon as you physically can. Test it, compare it to similar ones in the market, write down how it feels to use, and any issues you encounter. Be a user, so you can understand your users better. Speak to others in the business that interact with users (Customer support? Sales?). It’s all about knowing how users feel, and what drives them.
Actively use your product to experience it from a user's perspective.
Explore competitor products to understand different design approaches and functionalities.
Engage with customer support or sales teams to learn about common user issues and feedback.
Document your experiences and observations to inform product improvements.
Get cosy with competitors
Keep your friends close…
Knowing your competitors will help you know your potential customers. Analyse their stuff, get to know what they’re great at, understand why some users choose them over you.
Immediate: Regularly use and test your competitors' products to understand their user experience.
Immediate: Conduct SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analyses for your competitors.
Long term: Monitor their marketing strategies, customer feedback, and product releases.
Long term: Identify areas where your product can differentiate or address unmet needs.
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