Meet John, the Product Marketing Manager

Many of you know me from teaching Pragmatic Institute’s Market and Launch classes. In this role I get the privilege of working with many marketing directors, product managers, marketing executives, and product marketing managers. This experience I wanted to share with you from the product marketing manager’s perspective.

The role of the product marketing manager is evolving and becoming more standardized. By that I mean the importance of the role is better understood and the activities they are accountable for are more clearly defined. What I can report is the role of the product marketing manager has become more strategic and more valued than ever before.

Before getting deeper into roles and responsibilities of the product marketing manager it’s important to understand his persona. Please let me introduce you to John. John is a product marketing manager at a B2B technology company. He is 34 years old and he has a technical degree. About 30% of the time he has an MBA. His path to becoming a product marketing manager was not a direct one. His previously could have been a sales engineer, a product manager, or had a sales role.

He’s married, has two small children, and lives in the suburbs.

John is part of the marketing organization and reports to either a director/VP of product marketing or the VP of marketing. He gets a base salary and a bonus based on the performance of the company and the products he supports. Revenue is the primary measurement of success.

John may have the job title of product marketing manager, or he may be known as a marketing manager, segment marketing manager, or industry marketing manager.

John’s primary responsibilities fall into the following categories:

  • Develop messaging for the products he supports
  • Differentiate products from alternatives in the marketplace
  • Develop content and sales tools including presentations, website content, brochures and white papers
  • Conduct sales enablement training
  • Create demand (lead generation)

John complains about the following issues:

  • Urgent, last minute requests from Sales like custom presentations, RFP responses, and demos are common requests that keep me from focusing on more strategic activities that I know will come back to haunt me.
  • I have no clear way to prioritize my work. Every priority is the same: HIGH
  • The sales team constantly complains about their sales tools. I keep delivering what they ask for but they still complain.
  • Continuous changes in company, marketing and sales strategies have me bouncing from one project to the next. I’m working hard but not feeling like I’m getting anything done.
  • I have to justify the ROI of marketing programs but I don’t have a set of metrics to use to prove my contribution.
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  • 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.

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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