Roles Before Titles
The job titles of product marketing manager and product manager are confusing enough to start raging debates about who does what. Organizations often transpose the job titles, adding to the confusion. This article won’t tell you if job title is X then you do Y. But it will give you some guidelines that generalize the areas of accountability.
The Three Horizons of Sustained Growth
In the book The Alchemy of Growth, the authors propose that a healthy, growing organization needs to focus simultaneously on three things. The first is sustaining the business. The second is growing the business. The third is the future of the business.
From a product perspective, we can simplify this as current products, next products, and future products. Current products sustain your business. Next products assure growth and future products assure long-term viability.
All of the products and services you have today, and those that are on your roadmap, are represented by those three circles. Now, let’s use those to delineate the roles of product marketing and product management at a generalized level.
Clarifying the Roles: Product Management vs Product Marketing Management
The product marketing role is focused on current products and the next products. Think about that for a moment. They’re either helping to figure out how to sell more of what’s in the portfolio (current products) or planning to introduce new products (next products). Let’s put a rectangle around the first two circles. That represents the big area of responsibility for the product marketing role.
The product management role is focused on the next products and future products. They are working with the product marketing role to plan a product launch or conducting research to anticipate what the future will bring. Let’s put a rectangle around the second two circles. That represents the big area of responsibility for the product management role.
When the two rectangles are combined, it’s simple to describe which roles focus on which of the three product areas. It also shows where there are overlaps, representing areas of collaboration.
The overlap between the two roles is apparent for the next products. A hand-off occurs between product management and product marketing to plan go-to-market (GTM) strategies, launch products, and oversee readiness activities.
Product marketing managers focus on today. They work toward achieving the business goals for current products. They also plan and execute the go-to-market strategy for the next products (or new versions of existing products).
Product managers focus on tomorrow. They work to deliver the next products and create a vision for future products.
The Product Marketing Manager’s Perspective: The Here and Now
Product marketing managers focus on achieving the business goals for current products. They work with the product management team and other functions like sales, engineering, and customer success to develop and execute go-to-market plans. This includes creating product positioning and messaging and sales enablement materials like presentations, battle cards and website content.
Product marketing managers also interface with customers and prospects regularly. They collect feedback to improve current products and inform the development of new products. Additionally, product marketing managers track and analyze market trends to identify opportunities for their company’s products.
In summary, product marketing managers:
– Develop and execute go-to-market plans
– Write product positioning and messaging
– Create sales enablement materials
– Analyze market trends
– Manage product launches
– Interface with customers and prospects
The Product Manager’s Perspective: The Future
Product managers focus on delivering the next products and creating a vision for future products. They work with the product marketing team and other functions like sales, engineering, and customer success to develop product strategy and define the product roadmap. This includes prioritizing features and managing the product lifecycle.
Product managers also conduct market research and analyze competitor products to inform their work. They use this information to identify opportunities for their company’s products and develop strategies for differentiating them in the market.
When new products are ready for launch, product managers work with product marketing managers to plan and execute the launch. This includes developing go-to-market plans, writing product positioning and messaging, and creating sales enablement materials.
Product managers also interface with customers and prospects regularly. They collect feedback to improve current products and inform the development of new products. Additionally, product managers track and analyze market trends to identify opportunities for their company’s products.
When new products are ready for launch, product managers might take the lead on planning and executing the launch, but everything will be in close collaboration with the product marketing manager. This includes developing launch plans, working with cross-functional teams, and managing the rollout of new features and functionality.
In summary, product managers:
– Develop product strategy
– Define product vision and roadmaps
– Prioritize features
– Manage the product lifecycle
– Conduct market research
– Analyze competitors
Product Management and Product Marketing Management Roles will Vary
The big question that many people ask is, “Who does what?” That is, by job title. There isn’t an explicit answer to that question. Think about the people in your organization with the skills and temperament to work effectively in each role. Then strive to get to a state that works for your organization.
Be mindful that product marketing isn’t product management and vice versa. Also, be mindful that if your product managers spend too much time on today’s activities, they aren’t planning for tomorrow. You will pay for it sooner or later.
It may be time to introduce a product marketing role into your organization, one that isn’t product management or Marcom. Use the responsibilities graphic to help you find a good fit.
Foundations on Demand
Are you looking to take your product knowledge and skills to the next level?
Enhance your product management or product marketing career with Foundations On-Demand, the gold standard for product management and marketing training. With interactive games, reference guides, tools, templates and more, you’ll gain the knowledge and strategic thinking needed to become a true product master.