Resources > Articles

The Role of the Product Marketing Manager

The Role of the Product Marketing Manager

The boundaries of responsibilities of product managers and product marketing managers can be confusing, compounded if an organization has multiple business units or product lines that use the titles interchangeable but perform different roles.  A Google search of Òproduct manager job description and product marketing manager job description will prove that point.

This topic came up recently and I though it would be worthwhile sharing our thoughts based on our experience.  Feel free to challenge our assumptions.

Product Managers

A discussion of the role of the Product Marketing Manager cannot start without defining the role of the Product Manager.  The Product Manager can be thought of as a strategic asset.  Her role is complex and consists of some of the following responsibilities:

  • Identify market opportunities
  • Identify customer problems
  • Define product features and capabilities
  • Forecast Return on Investment
  • Recommend distribution strategies
  • Recommend pricing strategies
  • Define product positioning
  • Create sales or market share projections
  • Manage the product life cycle
  • Thought leader/manage relationships with industry analysts
  • Own and manage the product roadmap

It’s a role that crosses all boundaries within the organization and is largely inwardly focused.  In some organizations the Product Manager responsibilities may be further delineated.  Technical Product Managers work more closely with Development on features and architecture; Business Product Managers are more market focused, identifying business opportunities and ROI.

Product Marketing Managers

Where the role of the Product Manager is strategic and largely inwardly focused, the role of the Product Marketing Manager is tactical and outwardly focused.  It is the ideal complement to the Product Manager.  With a strategic vs. tactical separation of responsibilities the boundaries are easier to understand with less gray area.

Clearly the Product Manager and the Product Marketing Manager should be collaborating in order to succeed.

The Product Marketing Manager’s role is also complex and will vary in complexity based on the size of the organization and the diversity of the sales model (e.g. direct, indirect, online).  His responsibilities may include:

  • Product Branding
  • Product Packaging
  • Definition and delivery of sales tools (e.g. demos, presentations)
  • Definition and delivery of marketing collateral (e.g. brochures, data sheets)
  • Definition and delivery of sales training
  • Definition and delivery of channel partner training
  • Developing and executing product launch strategies
  • Supporting the sales process (e.g. provide product sales expertice, input for RFPs)
  • Be the top product evangelist

In other words the Product Marketing Manager gets the product ready to sell, trains the sales team on ways to sell it, and provides field level sales support.  Some organizations may further split the role of the Product Marketing Manager by introducing the role of the Field Marketing Manager.  The Field Marketing Manager would support day-to-day sales activities, where the Product Marketing Manager would provide corporate-level product support.

What if I do both?

A common scenario in smaller companies is for the Product Manager to play both strategic and tactical roles.  While this can be accomplished (IÕve done it), it can be frustrating and aggravating especially when youÕre getting pulled in two directions at once.  If too much time is spent on tactical activities, the strategic activities of adding more value into the product will suffer.  As a dual-role fighter you should recognize when this is happening and recommend the addition of the Product Marketing Manager role.

Other Resources in this Series

Most Recent

Title: Watch Party Case Study: Image of a group of people watching a football game together virtually
Article

Go-To-Market Case Study: How to Build Momentum and Reduce Risk

During the Product Chat Webinar, Arnaud Berube, Senior PMM at Zillow, used Watch Party as a case study to explain his phased go-to-market approach reduces risk and maximizes resources.
plan, strategy
Article

How to Create a Strategic Product Plan

Most technology companies have a product management department serving as the voice of the customer and helping to understand market needs better but is product management really being used strategically?
Optimizing product management budgets
Article

How to do More With the Same (or fewer) Resources in 2023 with Segmentation and Targeting Updates

Six steps to a data-driven understanding of your best-fit buyer. Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your marketing programs by shifting your focus (and budgets) to best-fit personas and ICPs. 
Person working on project management software on a tablet
Article

10 Tools for Product Managers 

The right product tools can make it easier to manage your team, but there are hundreds out there—so how do you choose which one is right for you?
Purchasing on a mobile device with a credit card
Article

8 Distribution Strategy Examples For Product Teams 

A distribution strategy is a blueprint for how your company delivers its products to customers. Here are 8 methods and helpful examples. 

OTHER ArticleS

Title: Watch Party Case Study: Image of a group of people watching a football game together virtually
Article

Go-To-Market Case Study: How to Build Momentum and Reduce Risk

During the Product Chat Webinar, Arnaud Berube, Senior PMM at Zillow, used Watch Party as a case study to explain his phased go-to-market approach reduces risk and maximizes resources.
plan, strategy
Article

How to Create a Strategic Product Plan

Most technology companies have a product management department serving as the voice of the customer and helping to understand market needs better but is product management really being used strategically?

Sign up to stay up to date on the latest industry best practices.

Sign up to received invites to upcoming webinars, updates on our recent podcast episodes and the latest on industry best practices.

Training on Your Schedule

Fill out the form today and our sales team will help you schedule your private Pragmatic training today.

Subscribe

Subscribe

Training on Your Schedule

Fill out the form today and our sales team will help you schedule your private Pragmatic training today.