Product School

What is Product Marketing?

Product Marketing, or Product Marketing Management (PMM), is a strategic function dedicated to meeting user needs. The role of a Product Marketing Manager is to take a customer-centric approach to creating and marketing products.

What is Product Marketing?

Product Marketing sits at the intersection of product development, marketing, and user needs. 

Product Marketing Managers (PMMs) have 2 main areas of focus:

  1. Collaborating with product teams to create new products that address unmet user needs

  2. Efficiently marketing existing products to help users understand how the products meet their needs

Product Marketing Managers work closely with product teams as they build new products designed to fulfill user needs. Product Marketing Managers must understand market demands, user behavior, and the competitive landscape to effectively collaborate with the product team.

Secondly, Product Marketing Managers have the crucial task of marketing existing products to address those needs that users themselves may not even be aware of. This entails packaging the product's benefits and features in a way that resonates with customers. They communicate to potential users: “I understand your paint point; I see you.” This encourages users to try or buy the product.

As a Product Marketing Manager, your main goal is to bridge the gap between the product and the market. You will have to wear many hats; you need to know your customers better than anyone else in the organization, and use that knowledge to influence product strategy and drive effective marketing campaigns.

What is a Product Marketing Manager?

A Product Marketing Manager (PMM) is a person who carries out Product Marketing functions in an organization. 

As a Product Marketing Manager, you can be part of a centralized team or work across multiple teams oriented around different audiences. Product Marketing Managers can report either into marketing or into the product organization, depending on the organizational structure. 

If you report into a product division, you’ll most likely work with quantifiable impact metrics that measure product value, such as market share movement. On the other hand, if you report into marketing you might report on "softer” metrics measuring engagement and adoption. Good examples of this are brand sentiment and marketing metrics like email open rates, or Monthly Active Users (MAUs).

The Product Marketing spectrum

You may be shocked to hear this, but Product Marketing involves both product and (drumroll please)…marketing. Some names are self-explanatory! 

The “Product Marketing spectrum” refers to the fact that Product Marketing roles can range from being highly marketing-focused to highly product-focused. Where you sit on this spectrum as a Product Marketing Manager can vary depending on the specific needs and strategies of your organization, and even on a project-by-project basis.

If you're at the 'Marketing Focus' end of the spectrum, you’ll spend much of your time communicating the value of a product or feature to customers. You’ll need to craft compelling messaging, build creative campaigns, and shape the perception of the product in the market. The ultimate goal here is to drive awareness, adoption, and loyalty for the product.

If you're at the 'Product Focus' end of the spectrum, you’ll work closely with Product Teams to guide product development based on an understanding of customer needs. This includes influencing Product Strategy, feature prioritization, and interpreting customer feedback into tangible product improvements.

It's important to note that these are not exclusive categories. As a Product Marketing Manager, you will often find yourself moving along this spectrum depending on the task at hand. 

One day you might be deeply involved in analyzing customer feedback to influence a product's roadmap, the next you might be crafting a compelling product launch campaign. The ability to navigate both ends of this spectrum is what makes a Product Marketing Manager invaluable to an organization.

Let’s look at Spotify to highlight the difference between Marketing Focus vs Product Focus. 

Marketing focus: Spotify’s launch of Spotify Premium Duo was a masterclass in Product Marketing. Instead of focusing on the feature and pricing, Spotify leaned into the messaging that highlighted the pain point of having to share an account (which was the real user problem). The price point – though it brought savings – was secondary to the user's need.

Product focus: People love to talk about Spotify's hyper-personalized user experience. Personalized playlists like Spotify Wrapped are a feature, but they also make the product itself a marketing tool. Spotify creates a great experience, then their users do the marketing for them.

Product Marketing vs Product Management

Product Marketing (PMM) and Product Management (PM) share goals in common but serve different functions. They work closely together to make the product successful.

These are the shared goals of Product Marketing Managers and Product Managers:

  • Fulfilling user needs

  • Driving business impact

  • Building great products

Within this larger common framework, Product Managers work with engineers and design to discover and create the product. Product Marketing Managers step in when it’s time to market that product. The bread and butter of Product Marketing Managers is understanding users, creating marketing assets, and activating the correct marketing channels. 

As a Product Marketing Manager, strive to get involved as early as possible in the product process. Marketing doesn’t begin on launch day; to create effective messaging you need to strategize and align with your Product Manager well ahead of launch.

Ultimately Product Management and Product Marketing are two sides of the same coin. We both really want to find the solution to customer problems and ensure that we're delivering that intuitive Product-Market Fit.

- Jameelah Calhoun, VP of Product and Customer Marketing at Eventbrite

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