Note: When making decisions, remember this summary describes typical practices, not best practices. For best practices in product management and marketing, attend a Pragmatic Institute seminar.
- Profile of a product manager
- Reporting structure
- Product management ratios
- Responsibilities and job titles
- How has your job changed over the last two years?
- If you could say one thing to your company president without fear of reprisal, it would be…
Profile of a product manager
- Average age is 39
- Responsible for 3 products and work in a department of 6 people
- 92% claim to be “somewhat” or “very” technical
- 33% are female, 67% are male
- 93% have completed college and 43% have completed a masters program
The typical product manager reports to a Director or Vice President in the product management department.
Reporting to Title
- 39% report to a director
- 31% report to a vice president
- 21% report to a manager
- 9% report to a CXO
Reporting to Department
- 29% directly to CEO or COO
- 31% in Product Management
- 20% in Marketing
- 14% in Development or Engineering
- 7% in Sales
Product Management ratios within the company
When looking at staffing, it’s often helpful to see how ratios of product managers compare from your company to the industry norm.
For each product manager, we found:
- 0.6 Product marketing managers
- 0.5 Marketing Communications
- 2.1 Salespeople
- 0.6 Sales engineers (pre-sales support)
- 0.4 Development leads
- 2.0 Developers
- 0.1 Product architects and designers
Other ratios of interest
- 1.8 developers per QA manager
- 3.0 salespeople per sales engineer
For product management and product marketing titles, the average compensation is $96,580 salary plus $12,960 annual bonus. 77% of product managers and marketers get a bonus. Bonuses are based on (multiple responses were permitted):
- 69% company profit
- 26% product revenue
- 59% quarterly objectives
Geographic impact on compensation (in US $)
US regional impact on compensation (in US $)
Compensation by experience (in US$)
|Less than 1 year||$98,968||$13,593|
|More than 15||$121,734||$12,896|
Compensation by education (in US$)
|Masters in Business||$105,031||$15,581|
|Masters in Engineering||$103,144||$11,696|
|Other Masters degree||$101,005||$13,546|
Compensation by title (in US$)
|Product Marketing Manager||$96,470||$14,912|
|Technical Product Manager||$91,841||$9,845|
Compensation by technical ability (in US$)
|87I am non-technical||$94,204||$12,962|
|I am somewhat technical||$99,082||$13,584|
|I am very technical||$101,973||$13,448|
Responsibilities and job titles
We looked at responsibilities for each of the 37 activities on the Pragmatic Institute Framework™. So, for example, 73% of people with product management and product marketing titles claim responsibility for an understanding of market problems while only 24% claim responsibility for win/loss analysis.
Here we see the activities and percentages sorted from most to least, showing “Product roadmap,” “Requirements,” and “Market problems” are the most common activities claimed by those with product management and product marketing titles while, at 15%, “lead generation” is least cited.
Here we see the same information–activities and percentages–grouped by discipline:
Business, Technical, Marketing, and Sales support.
Contrasting the titles ‘product manager’ and ‘product marketing manager’
Titles are a mess in our industry. What one company calls a product manager, another calls a product marketing manager. In general, when both titles are present in one organization, product managers are focused on technical and business activities while product marketing managers are focused on go-to-market activities.
In the following charts, we’ve highlighted five representative documents to help contrast product management and product marketing: product roadmap, requirements, positioning, marketing plan, and sales tools. For those with a title of Product Manager, we found these responsibilities:
As you can see, product roadmap and requirements are the responsibility for over 80% of those with a title of Product Manager.
Looking at the same data in groups, it’s clear that product managers tend to focus on the technical activities shown in the purple boxes below; however 70% of product managers also claim responsibility for positioning.
While product managers tend to focus on technical activities, Product Marketing Managers are more inclined to focus on go-to-market activities. Positioning, sales tools, and marketing plan all rate greater than 70% while requirements and product roadmaps (which were rated very high for product managers) are less than 50% for product marketing managers.
Companies with both Product Manager and Product Marketing Manager titles tend to orient product managers to business and technical activities while product marketing managers focus on go-to-market and sales support activities.
How has your job changed over the last two years?
Do more with less
- I am doing three jobs at the same time.
- A million more tasks.
- Fewer people to support my products, in all parts of the company: Marketing, Engineering and Operations.
- Agile has rolled out further through the company.
- Agile development teams, much more reporting to executive team
- Development process has moved to Agile model necessitating a change in how requirements are communicated. In general I believe that this is actually more in line with the Pragmatic approach so I’m ready!
- Greater C-level focus on product management including additional budget and staff (a good thing)
- A lot more responsibility and new focus on growing the business
- More market oriented with increased customer interaction.
If you could say one thing to your company president without fear of reprisal, it would be…
- Focus the business on a few key strategic initiatives
- Focus on the customer’s problems (the “Tuned In” philosophy)
- Our short-term orientation means less focus on long-term strategies.
- We’re focused more on detail and less on big picture
- We’re constantly whipsawed by the urgent needs of the next sales presentation or inside-out product idea.
- Company strategy needs to be created, communicated and measured throughout implementation.
- A strategic vision is only helpful if you stick to it. (Or at least make a very good case why the vision has changed.)
- Product expertise and industry awareness must be expected within all departments of the company.
- Allow more control from employees below upper management in doing their own jobs.
Steve Johnson is a recognized thought-leader on the strategic role of product management and marketing. Broadly published and a frequent keynote speaker, Steve has been a Pragmatic Institute instructor for more than 10 years and has personally trained thousands of product managers and hundreds of company senior executive teams on strategies for creating products people want to buy. Steve is the author of the Product Marketing blog.
Contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org.