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Product Marketing vs. Product Management: Demystifying the Roles

Product management focuses on the development of a product, while product marketing focuses on launching a finished product to the market.

I agree this is an oversimplified differentiation between the two. In reality, the two disciplines overlap and are more intertwined. Not just the disciplines — roles, responsibilities, and skills of a product manager and a product marketing manager overlap.

This often leads to confusion between product marketing and product management and the role of a product marketing manager and product manager.

In this post, we will examine product marketing vs. product management and the roles of a product manager and a product marketing manager.

Source: HubSpot

What is product management?

Product management is an organizational function that focuses on managing the complete lifecycle of a product — from its conception to development, launch, and ongoing improvement.

A product manager or product owner is responsible for guiding the product life cycle.

Martin Eriksson calls product management the intersection of business, user experience, and technology.

Source: Atlassian 

Product management differs from project management, which looks into the day-to-day details of a product’s development. It is also different from product marketing, which takes care of marketing the finished product into the market.

What is product marketing?

Product marketing is an organizational function that focuses on launching a finished product to the market and making it discoverable to the customer with the purpose of selling it.

It includes defining a product’s target audience, USP, messaging, and positioning, competitor research, and creation and distribution of content.

A product marketer is responsible for creating, executing, and managing product marketing strategy.

What is the difference between product marketing and product management?

The difference between product marketing and product management is that product marketing focuses on launching a finished product to the market, while product management is concerned with the creation of the product.

A product manager oversees the product management function, whereas a product marketing manager oversees the product marketing function.

The confusion between the two roles and the two disciplines lies in that they both are concerned with the successful launch of the product to the market.

A product manager researches and analyzes the market to ensure that the product is the right fit for the market, desired by the end users, and fulfills the company’s objectives.

On the other hand, a product marketing manager researches and analyzes the market to ensure that the developed product reaches its intended target audience and is portrayed in the best possible light.

A product manager focuses on creating a product with the right market fit, whereas a product marketing manager focuses on effectively positioning the product to the right audience to make users purchase it.

There are also some visible differences between these two disciplines and roles.

For example, product marketing is not concerned with the technology or development of the product, but product management is concerned with strategizing, developing, and enhancing the user experience of the product.

Though product marketing can influence feature development with its deep marketing insights at any stage, product development can influence product marketing with its product offerings at any stage, as well.

Product marketing vs. product management

Product marketing Product management 
Focuses on bringing the product to marketFocuses on creating and  developing the product
Product launch, promotion, branding, positioning, and messaging Product roadmaps, defining features for development, maintaining backlog, and project planning
Work closely with sales, marketing, customer success, and product management teamWorks closely with engineers, user-experience designers, and other stakeholders 
Achieve business objectives by  generating demand for products and accelerating salesAchieve business objectives by delivering user-centric products that drive business growth
Focus on creating compelling product stories that resonate with your target audienceGather user feedback continuously and use it to inform product development decisions

The role of a product manager

The role of a product manager is to ensure that the team creates a product that is desired by the customers and serves the business objective. They work cross-functionally with managers from various departments, including marketing, sales, finance, and legal, to ensure that each step of the product development life cycle is executed properly.

This leads to a set of responsibilities of a product manager. Have a look at them.

Responsibilities of a product manager include:

  • Understanding and identifying customer needs.
  • Performing market research and competitive analysis to identify the product-market fit.
  • Representing the end-user needs and defining the vision for a product.
  • Creating a product roadmap (roadmap tools will ease this process), defining the project scope, setting goals and milestones, and defining strategy for product development.
  • Defining product features, coordinating product releases, and gathering feedback from end-users and stakeholders to improve the product through iteration.
  • Communicating with stakeholders from various departments to align product development with business objectives.
  • Guiding teams through the entire product lifecycle.
  • Gathering feedback and guiding ongoing improvement on the product.

Essential product manager skills

A product manager is either a master at technical development with a good business understanding or a seasoned marketer with decent technical skills who can drive the creation of the product.

To excel in the role, a product manager needs a specific set of key skills. Take a look at these essential product manager skills.

  • Communication skills: A product manager has to lead a product’s marketing, development, and business aspects. They should have good communication skills to understand others and convey messages in a way everyone can comprehend.
  • Project management: A product manager must oversee the entire product life cycle. They should have practical knowledge of project management methodologies to manage various projects, create product roadmaps, and devise an actionable strategy for product development.
  • Technical skills: To lead the overall product development, a product manager needs to have a decent knowledge of technical software development, including coding, testing, and deployment.
  • Research and problem-solving skills: A product manager should be able to research extensively to gain knowledge and find solutions to the problem. They must set a vision, guide teams through the product life cycle, and solve daily challenges.
  • Analytical and strategic thinking: A product manager should be able to think analytically, critically, and strategically. This requires an adaptable and flexible mindset to make better decisions.

The role of a product marketing manager

The role of a product marketing manager is to design, execute, track, and manage the product marketing campaign. A product marketing manager works with the product development team, sales team, and marketing team to ensure the successful launch of the product.

A product marketing manager plays a key role in all three stages of the product launch:

  • Before the launch: By sharing insights to develop a product with the right market fit.
  • During the launch: By creating a product’s go-to-market strategy.
  • After the launch: By overseeing customer response to the product, receiving feedback, and taking necessary actions for potential improvement.

This leads to a set of responsibilities of a product marketing manager throughout the product lifecycle marketing. Have a look at them.

Responsibilities of a product marketing manager include:

  • Deeply understanding the target audience and defining ideal customer profiles and buyer personas.
  • Perform competitor research to learn about your competitors’ products and marketing tactics.
  • Establishing the product’s messaging and positioning to position the product appropriately in the market.
  • Creating a product’s go-to-market strategy and building the product’s branding and image.
  • Creating content, including blog posts, social media posts, email newsletters, videos, and ads to drive awareness and demand for the product.
  • Managing the content calendar and content distribution to ensure the product reaches its intended audience.
  • Tracking the marketing campaign for optimization and improvement.
  • Ensure the marketing, product, sales teams, and other stakeholders are all on the same page.
  • Guiding the marketing team to drive sales and profit for the business.

Essential product marketing manager skills

A product marketing manager is someone who is heavily skilled at marketing. There is a certain set of skills a product marketing manager needs to excel at the role. Have a look at them.

  • Team building and leadership: The marketing team works under a project marketing manager. They should have good team-building and leadership skills. It includes skills like communication, storytelling, conflict resolution, decision-making, and analytical and critical thinking.
  • Empathy: Emotions play a big part in product marketing. A product marketing manager should have empathy to understand the pain points of the customers. This not only helps you create effective market campaigns but also handles your team’s emotions well and understands your emotions better.
  • Meeting deadlines: A product marketing manager should be good at meeting deadlines. It helps them plan the content calendar effectively and deliver the content on time to lead business growth.
  • Strategic and tactical thinking: Strategic thinking helps a project create long-term strategy, while tactical thinking helps a project manager take short-term marketing initiatives to achieve business objectives. A project manager needs both strategic and tactical thinking skills to create marketing campaigns that outperform the competitors.
  • Technical skills: A product marketing manager needs good technical skills including market research, competitive analysis, knowledge of various marketing strategies, content creation, content management systems, and knowledge of marketing automation to create marketing campaigns that serve business objectives.

Do you need both a product manager and a product marketing manager?

A product manager and a product marketing manager work closely together to achieve the common goal of product success.

It is because even the best product with poor marketing fails to reach its audience, resulting in its failure.

Similarly, a poor product that does not fulfill end-users’ needs even with the best marketing strategy would not be able to make a mark in the market.

That’s why you need product marketing and management for a successful product launch.

Having said that, in some companies, a product manager takes care of the role of product marketing manager. In that case, it is good to ensure that the product manager and the technical development leader have expertise in product marketing to make the product successful.  

Top online course for product managers

Learning courses can help you build the knowledge and skills required to become a successful product manager and get certified. Here are the top three online courses for product managers:

1. Product Management Program by Stanford School of Engineering

This program will equip you with the skills you need to be a great product manager. It covers topics like product creation, marketing, team operations, product costing, and more to teach you the skills you need for effective product management.

2. Product Manager Certification (PMC)™ by Product School

In this program, you will learn to build products end-to-end and get the hands-on experience you need to lead Product teams. You will gain practical skills and apply everything you have learned through a comprehensive final project to create a product from ideation to launch.

3. Software Product Management Specialization by the University of Alberta

This course will teach you to create better software products using Agile Practices. You will learn the Agile software management practices that will help you lead a team of developers and navigate the realistic scenarios you will face as a Software Product Manager.

Top online courses for product marketing managers

Have a look at the top three courses for product marketing managers.

1. Product Marketing Manager Certification (PMMC)™ by Product School

In this course, you will learn how to master product positioning, deliver messaging that captivates customers, create exceptional go-to-market plans, and choose metrics to demonstrate impact. You will learn from the experts who designed marketing campaigns for companies like Spotify, Shopify, DoorDash, and more.

2. Product Marketing Core by Product Marketing Alliance   

This course teaches you all the necessary concepts to successfully promote and sell your product. You will learn about pricing strategies, market research, OKRs and KPIs, personas, messaging and positioning, go-to-market strategies, and more.

3. Certified Product Marketing Manager (CPMM™) by 280Group

Certified Product Marketing Manager credentials demonstrate your skills in creating and executing the marketing plan and budget, creating marketing campaigns to drive customer acquisition and revenue, and both strategic and tactical marketing functions throughout the product life-cycle. You can enroll in the Optimal Product Management Training course by 280 Group to prepare for the AIPMM CPMM™ certification exam.

What is the salary of a product manager and a product marketing manager?

According to Glassdoor estimates, the average salary for a Product Manager in the United States is $125,778 per year, while the average salary for a Product Marketing Manager is $121,396 per year.

The total pay range for a product manager is $121K – $206K/year, whereas that for a product marketing manager is $128K – $206K/year.

Wrapping it up

Product marketing and product management are two different organizational functions with the common purpose of launching a successful product that customers love to use and serve business objectives. A clear understanding of the role helps you implement the right strategies and appoint the right people to create successful products.

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