Product management as an agricultural business career can be exciting and rewarding. It is similar to running your own business, except you receive a salary rather than worrying about whether you will make enough money to provide a good living. A product manager has opportunities to improve his business skills through in-house training, coordination with peers and coaching from supervision.
American Farm Bureau Federation reports that each U.S. farmer fed 143 people in the United States and abroad during 2008. This feat could not have been accomplished without technology and state-of-the-art production tools such as seed, fertilizer, feed, equipment and other supplies. Product management plays a key role in building and maintaining a marketing package that puts needed products into the hands of the producer.
Product management in a manufacturing company is usually a group of managers who each manage a specific product or a group of products. A product manager is totally responsible for creating and maintaining a profitable market for his product(s). This person writes a marketing plan, which includes a three- to five-year budget, sales forecast and profit plan.
Using this marketing plan as a guide, a product manager determines what the price of the product has to be to return an acceptable profit. At the same time, the manager must be able to determine how much the farmer or rancher is willing to pay for the product. Product management commissions and interprets market research studies to help determine a price that will be accepted by the customer.
In cooperation with market communication specialists, the product manager develops and implements a promotion plan to create product demand. A promotion plan can include product brochures, advertising, articles in trade journals, field demonstrations and farmer or rancher meetings.
Package design also helps sell product. Product management must determine which package size will be most convenient for the customer and most economical to his company. They need to design the container for easy recognition and rapid establishment of product identity.
Product management must maintain good rapport with their field sales group to ensure the sales people understand the product and are motivated to sell it.
Ideally, a person who chooses agricultural product management as a career has a college degree in agribusiness and a farm or ranch background. However, people have chosen various agricultural business careers without these credentials. Often people in these careers have some type of business degree and no background in agriculture. The most important criteria is to enjoy the profession and have a desire to learn.
The real training in agricultural business begins when a person joins a company. Most corporations start new hires in sales. Field sales provide excellent training for product management. In this job, you develop the ability to work with people and obtain insight into what motivates a farmer or rancher to buy a product. Field sales is also a great place to learn your company and how it functions. Personnel who have a desire and the ability to work in product management are usually moved into these jobs from sales. Sometimes they are moved into market communications or market research before entering product management.
Product management as an agricultural business career often presents opportunities to advance higher on corporate ladders. The first step in advancement is usually to the position of a group product manager who supervises product managers. Business managers, who manage entire businesses, are normally chosen from product management. Many product managers progress to department heads and even become corporate executive officers (CEOs).