Job titles are often confusing. What a company calls a product manager, the other calls product marketing manager. In this article we shall use the designation manager product marketing for the similar role that others with similar or different designation may be doing. Their roles and responsibilities are more or less similar.
Typically, product marketing manager are called upon to research the market and write requirements. They strategize on plans to go market and write collateral. A product marketing manager could be performing broad or narrow functions depending on the company they are working in. In other words, they could be both listening to and talking to the market in their broad functions. Otherwise they could either be listening or talking to the market.
A product marketing manager not just listens to the market but also articulates the market problems in the form of requirements. Subsequently, they take the resulting product to the market while defining a product marketing strategy. They research the market needs and write business cases.
While product marketing manger performs the tasks identified above, the task of the execution of the product marketing strategy is left to marketing communications, a service department. This department specializes in tasks like direct mail marketing, trade shows web marketing, and collateral production. Not all of these tasks may actually be run, but is left at the discretion of product marketing manager. Marketing communication guys then execute them.
Product marketing manager should not be confused with product manager. A product manager as a member of the marketing organization ensures that a product gets created, tested and shipped. They ensure that a product meets specifications and deadline for delivery. This is a highly technical project management job that is internally focused.
A product marketing manager on the other hand as a member of the marketing organization is responsible for getting the product to the marketing place and to the distribution networks. In other words, it is an externally focused job.
Tips and comments
While not all organizations separate the two functions, it is important to know that designations are of little importance, actions are critical. Product management and product marketing activities should not ideally be rolled into one. Product requirement and product positioning require different skills and competencies and hence, the role of product marketing manager is fairly specialized.
However, the challenge of finding a separate product marketing job is that the person may not have sufficient skills from market and product knowledge to technical aptitude required in the domain. Further, there is the likelihood of confusion arising in terms of producing or delivering the goods.
The companies that separate the roles follow the recommendation that the two functions are kept in the same department. While product manager occupies the senior position with overall accountability, product marketing manager acts in a supporting role with clear and well defined responsibilities delineated for the two.
In brief, product marketing manager is responsible for generating product based messaging and collateral. They work closely with product manager. This enables them to understand and articulate the company’s product.