As we enter an age of usefulness, where “campaigns” (360 / integrated) matter less, where specificity, personalization and relevancy wins, brand as experience is the goal and tech is the thing that enables the engagement brands seek - Product Strategy isn't just about the "product" anymore.
The truth is the title Product Strategist to me is and always has been a slight fallacy. It actually doesn’t represent what I do or what I’m responsible for. Or even what clients expect of me.
In fact when I think about my time at Possible, our clients, the people and teams I work with, what we're really doing is business transformation. We are in the business of helping clients shift their businesses and create value for customers through "digital" innovation.
(Although the word digital is also problematic for me - go figure).
Especially when, if the experience is the brand, it's the product, the content, the services and the marketing communications that deliver that (brand) experience.
Many clients are also being disrupted at a rapid rate and we have to help them to not only compete with that but to also win.
We need to be able to understand and interpret the customers, the business, the landscape, the brand, the experience, the services, the marketing AND the product to identify the right problems and create the right solutions (whatever they are) that open up new opportunities for clients.
This at least for me personally is the promise of Product Strategy - something that can look across this landscape and understand how it all works together to deliver on something new and transformative. And it’s also why as a title it’s problematic.
Besides, being a “product guy” isn’t actually my experience. It’s not really what my career, or even my current work, has been about.
In fact I have and do practice all kinds of strategy. On a daily basis I am switching between many of them.
Product Strategy (in the “classic” sense), Customer experience strategy, Content strategy, User Experience strategy, Brand strategy, Marketing strategy, Business strategy, Creative strategy, Marketing (and social) strategy, Go-to-market, marketing (which includes channel planning, funnel and distribution) and on-boarding strategy.
And I have to be able to understand and speak to all of them constantly. I don't have to be an expert but at any given time I have to understand how all the pieces fit and moreover work together.
Along with this I teach, train and run workshops for internal teams and external clients that span a wide array of subjects.
The other truth is that brand strategy and product strategy are interconnected. Especially in a world where very often the product, and the things (products, services, content etc) created to engage customers around the brand is the experience.
Product Strategy for me is about the customer experience, the brand experience, the value proposition it delivers, the services it creates to deliver them, and the branding, marketing and communications it develops to create meaning, difference and desire for those services.
Product Strategists must be able to span a wide array of subjects and disciplines. They must also be able to weigh it all and consider the impact of the decisions in all these areas, taking into account technology, business, ideas, design, copy & content, user experience, branding and brand strategy, marketing and anything else that comes their way.
We are constant learners. In fact it’s not about knowing everything. It’s knowing how to find the answers, how to weigh decisions, ask the right questions and how to understand and negotiate an ever changing world for clients.
So yes, my title is Product Strategist. But I’m not sure that really describes who I am or really what I do.