John the Misunderstood Product Marketing Manager

In a previous post I introduced you to John, the product marketing manager. John is very busy and has his share of frustration. Most of John’s frustration is because his role is misunderstood. Product managers think he should do one thing. Marcom another. Sales yet another.

How did John get here?

For many technology companies the job title of product marketing manager is a fairly recent addition. The job was introduced to fill a void between product management, sales, and marcom. It happens when product managers are so consumed with product development issues, they don’t have the bandwidth to work with sales or marcom. The resulting problem is a sales force that is not prepared to sell and marketing that misses the mark.

Why is John frustrated?

He is frustrated because the line between what John should do and what the product manager should do is fuzzy. One time he gets scolded because he did something the product manager felt was her responsibility. Another time he gets scolded because he didn’t do something assuming the product manager is responsible. Finger pointing is not a solution.

What is John’s role?

There are activities in the Pragmatic Institute Framework that are about using products and there are activities that are about buying products. One way of clarifying responsibilities is to have product managers accountable for activities related to using products, and have product marketing managers accountable for activities related to buying products. Another way of looking at it is product marketing managers are experts on buyers and how they buy, and product managers are experts on products and how they solve problems.

Are you clear about your role as a product marketing manager?

Are you defining the role or waiting for someone to do it for you?

Jim Semick

Jim Semick

Jim Semick is co-founder of ProductPlan, a leading provider of cloud-based roadmap software for product and marketing teams. For more than 15 years he has helped launch new products now generating hundreds of millions in revenue. He was part of the founding team at AppFolio, a vertical SaaS company. Prior to AppFolio, Jim validated and created version 1.0 product requirements for GoToMyPC and GoToMeeting (acquired by Citrix). Jim is a frequent speaker on product management and the process of discovering successful business models. He contributes at www.productplan.com/blog. Follow Jim on Twitter at @JimSemick.


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