Updated: August 28, 2023 - 8 min read
In a field as vast and diverse as Product Management, there are so many different types of Product Manager. One of the most common, aside from a regular Product Manager is a Product Marketing Manager. If you’ve been job hunting for a while, you’ve probably seen this title pop up time and time again. Let's take a closer look at the role, and how Product Marketing Management fits into development.
What is Product Marketing?
Product Marketing, much like digital and traditional marketing, involves getting the product to market and making sure it reaches the right customers.
When we hear the word ‘marketing’, it’s usually followed by things like ‘social media’, ’email campaigns, and ‘blogging,’ but Product Marketing is so much more than that!
Product Marketing sits at the intersection between Product, Marketing, and Sales.
You might be wondering why it’s so important. Well, without marketing, you wouldn’t have found your way onto this article! You might have chosen a completely different phone to the one you have now. You might have a different favorite brand of coffee, or be working for a completely different company!
Marketing tells the story of a product, and helps communicate what the brand stands for. If you have a competitor who has a remarkably similar product to yours, it’s your storytelling – your Why – which will set you apart and help you find your customers.
You might also be interested in: Understanding Product-Market Fit
What does a Product Marketing Manager do?
A Product Marketing Manager owns the positioning, messaging, and branding of a product. They will also gather and process customer feedback, and manage some aspects of customer relations after launch. Essentially they work on moving customers through a funnel that converts them from a general audience, into loyal fans.
You may have seen the Product Marketing funnel before:
A Product Marketing Manager will constantly be working on different tasks for customers at these three levels of the funnel.
Acquisition: Getting the customer's attention, making people aware that your product exists and peaking their interest.
Social media, newsletters, blogs, copywriting
Engagement: Getting people involved in your community of fans.
Events, CTAs, lead scoring, special offers/campaigns
Retention/Conversion: Either keeping customers around (for subscription models) or converting them into paying customers (for one-time purchases).
Building growth loops with Product
A common misconception of Product Marketing is that it focuses mainly on acquisition. However, there’s no point attracting new customers if you can’t keep them! Marketing works to nurture customers throughout their journey with a product in order to keep churn rates down.
Product Marketing is difficult to define because it varies from company to company, and it can even vary between different products! For example, Product Marketing for Google’s Pixel phones and GSuite may be completely different in the way they operate.
Here are some examples of Product Marketing Management responsibilities at Google and Fitbit:
Product Marketing Management responsibilities at Google:
Partner with consumer researchers to design, implement, and then synthesize insights from primary consumer research and competitive analyses.
Work closely with Product Managers and User Experience Designers in the early stages of development to shape the direction of individual products.
Manage the development of product positioning, naming, and messaging strategy for your product(s).
Work cross-portfolio to develop experiences within your product area area that solve known consumer needs.
Write briefs and review creative assets to make sure your positioning and messaging strategy comes to life consistently in the real world.
Product Marketing Management responsibilities at Fitbit:
Inform new product requirements with data that represents key market analysis, consumer insights, and business rationale that supports our company strategy
Develop in-depth knowledge of consumer needs, key category trends, and competitive landscape to influence product roadmap recommendations & decisions
Influence key marketing & product decisions (e.g. naming, positioning, packaging, creative strategy, form factor, feature prioritization, etc.)
Define global go-to-market strategy and execute product launches from beginning to end. Work with marketing, product, sales, finance & international teams to develop marketing campaigns that drive demand for Fitbit products. Establish processes that facilitate cross-functional collaboration & communication
Partner with the research team on quantitative and qualitative research to deliver actionable insights that drive sustained growth to core products, help us understand our target consumers, and inform product positioning & messaging
Work with the creative team and external agencies to develop marketing assets to support product launches including writing briefs, packaging, naming, and web assets
Be an expert on competitive products, trends, and technologies and share insights across the company
Optimize product performance & experiences by having a comprehensive understanding of products in market, keeping a pulse on KPls, and provide recommendations (e.g., channel, product, marketing).
Develop robust business cases for new devices & software experiences and pitch to senior executives. This includes product definition, volume build, high-level revenue targets, margin recommendations, go-to-market plans, and crafting the consumer story.
Product Management vs. Product Marketing Management
What are the differences?
You could say that a Product Manager is the voice of the product within the company, and a Product Marketing Manager is the voice of the product to the outside world.
A Product Manager is more focused on getting the product built. They’ll work more directly with engineers, own the roadmap, and make decisions about what features get made and who will be the ones making them.
When it comes to launch they ask themselves very different questions. A Product Manager asks themselves “does the product solve the problem?” but a Product Marketing Manager asks “how will we tell people it solves the problem?“
At launch, they’ll work with sales to create the launch plan. This may include creating demos, social media content, email announcements, landing pages…anything that helps get the word out! It doesn’t matter how great the product is if nobody knows it exists! Owning and creating the go-to-market strategy is one of the most important parts of the Product Marketing Manager role.
How do they work together?
While their roles don’t overlap necessarily, a Product Manager and Product Marketing Manager will find themselves working together. Both have to have a deep understanding of the customer, so analyzing and sharing information together keeps them on the same page.
One of the more tangible things they’ll work on together are buyer personas, which help define users. A Product Manager will use these to inform how the product should be made and how it can best solve user problems, whereas a Product Marketing Manager will use them to work out how to best reach the users. There’s no point trying to engage with your core audience on TikTok if they’re 70+ years old!
What the Product Marketing Manager job is like (and how to get one!)
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty.
A Product Marketing Manager is very similar to a Product Manager in terms of salary and scope. Any place with tech will have PMM jobs, with the highest concentration in tech centers like San Francisco, London, Berlin, and Bangalore.
The average US salary for a Product Marketing Manager is $114,000 as of 2020, and may go up as high as $181,000 for bigger tech companies.
For the interview, you should prepare the answers to some typical Product Marketing interview questions. Such as:
Tell me about some memorable marketing campaigns which you admire
What was the marketing strategy like at your previous company?
Which channels would you choose to market the launch of X?
Do you think there are any untapped marketing resources out there?
Transition to Product Marketing
If you’re currently a Product Manager but would like a job with more creative flair, Product Marketing might be the one for you.
The best way to make any transition is within your own company. You could start by asking a current Product Marketing Manager to grab a coffee and talk shop. And many larger companies organize rotational shadowing schemes which would allow you some exposure to the role.
When applying for a role, try to highlight any experiences you’ve had which correlate with Product Marketing Manager responsibilities. Have you had any previous experiences working closely with a marketing team?
Product Marketing is also a brilliant stepping stone for marketing professionals to break into Product, as you’d be working closely with the Product team. Working on a go-to-market and launch strategy will put you in a great position to make the move.
Product Marketing resources
So you want to learn how to be a better Product Marketing Manager? Here are some resources:
Product School is on the cusp of launching its new Product Marketing Management Certification (PMMC)™. With the rise of Product Marketing, this training comes at an opportune time for those who wish to strengthen their Product Marketing skillset. Join the waitlist now.
Watch this talk from ProductCon 2023 by Eventbrite's VP of Product Jameelah Calhoun.
If you prefer diving into a great Product Marketing book, we recommend the classic, Positioning by Al Ries and Jack Trout.
Or for a more modern take, we'd recommend This is Marketing by Seth Godin.
For more reading, we’ve got more great (if we say so ourselves!) articles just like this:
Updated: August 28, 2023