This week on Product Love, I talked to Wyatt Jenkins, SVP of Product at Patreon. Previously, he was the VP of Product at Hired, Optimizely, and Shutterstock, and the VP of Operations at Beatport.
Wyatt can divide his adult life into three bullet points. The first bullet is his time as a DJ and musician. He was a creator who made music, flew around the world, and DJ’d. The second bullet is when he started a company, Beatport. The final bullet is when he figured how to scale himself at Shutterstock. While he’s clearly a driven product leader, Wyatt also cares about supporting the arts (hence Shutterstock and Beatport).
He was drawn to Patreon, a company that supports creators no matter their platform, because he himself is an artist.
In this week’s episode, we talked about the must-have qualities of all product managers, then discussed his pricing strategy.
The Three Qualities of Great PM Candidates
Wyatt looks for three major qualities when hiring product managers. The first quality is their ability to articulate the future in a compelling or interesting way. He’s looking for a storyteller. Product managers are selling something that’s not built yet — can you convince the customer of the future? Wyatt says that if you can’t do that, don’t become a product manager.
The second quality is grit and the determination to keep working in spite of failures. The first iteration isn’t going to work and the second probably won’t either, so persistence will save you. Lastly, product managers need to be able to inspire. They should be able to influence a team of engineers, designers, and marketers. Can they communicate in a way that resonates with each of these groups? Can they inspire different types of people and convince them to believe in a product?
When it comes to identifying a red flag, Wyatt believes it’s dogmatism. He’s seen products get built hundreds of ways, so if we prioritize an inflexible structure for how products get built, aren’t we missing the point?
“When I see that dogmatism around how things get built instead of the outcome that you’re trying to see in the world, that’s a red flag.”
According to Wyatt, pricing is maybe the most important skill a product manager can have. The art of product management is that you create value and then capture that value. Pricing is the delta between the two.
When product managers are building something, they need to understand what the value is to their users. People already value two basic things: time and money. You need to ask people if they’re willing to spend their time on your product and if they’re willing to spend their money on it.
Try one of Wyatt’s tests: The Wallet Test. Show someone your product and ask them these five questions:
Do you like this thing?
Would you put your name on this thing?
Would you pay for it?
Would you pay for it right now?
Would you pull out your credit card and give it to me?
If they’ve answered yes to those five questions, then you’ve created something valuable. I mean, isn’t pricing the ultimate product strategy after all? Product managers discover and advocate a product’s core value. Wyatt says that adding a sticker price is just the last step.
Curious about his other pricing strategies and tests? Listen to the episode to find out. Remember to subscribe on iTunes, and write us a review!