Product Managers vs. Product Marketing Managers

The title Product Manager can differ from company to company, and often overlaps with other roles. In this mini-series, Product Manager vs. Other Roles, we will discuss how the role of a Product Manager compares to different roles.

This time we will talk about Product Managers in comparison with Product Marketing Managers.

Simply put, a Product Manager is responsible for the creation of a product, and a Product Marketing Manager is responsible for getting the product to market. Though their roles are different, their ultimate goal is the same: to make a successful product.

Product Manager

A Product Manager owns the product and is responsible for the success and failure of the product. Some of their responsibilities include:

  • Setting the strategy and vision of the product to align with business and user goals
  • Building a product roadmap
  • Works with engineers, designers, and stakeholders
  • Requirements evaluation
  • Stakeholder management

We have a blog post explaining what Product Management is in more detail.

Product Marketing Manager

A Product Marketing Manager markets the product directly to the customer. Though the responsibilities change based on the company, some of their basic responsibilities include:

  • Characterizing the market position within the setting of the general product strategy
  • Conducts competitor and market analysis
  • Defines requirements and features necessary to produce and deliver a complete and successful product to market
  • Informing the sales team of the strategic positioning of the product
  • Work with engineers and creative teams to bring a product from an idea to commercialization

Since most of our content is based on product managers, let’s take a closer look at the kinds of responsibilities that product marketing managers would typically take on in their career:

  • Product marketing managers take on the product strategy and vision created by the product manager and turn it in to go-to market strategy. Go to market strategy is different than marketing strategy as it focusses on launching the product initially to access as much of the audience as possible.
  • Product marketing managers take on the product roadmap created by the product manager and create a go-to product roadmap. This is a crucial process as it captures all the cross-functional processes required to create a new customer experience.
  • Product managers focus on what the typical customer wants from the product. In contrast, product marketing managers focus on what the regular customer needs to hear and see to buy the product. Product marketing managers try to understand the personas to create marketing messages and media.

In general, product managers work directly with product marketing managers to ensure that the product is launched correctly, reaching out to the target customer as much as possible. While the two professions work together closely, the interview questions that a prospective product marketing manager receives during an interview might be slightly different and more focused on marketing capabilities to launch a product successfully. We collected the most frequently asked questions in product marketing manager interviews from various career sites. We have listed the most common ones that everyone considering product marketing manager roles should be prepared to get (and needless to say, have answers prepared!):

  • We are releasing feature X. How would you launch it?
  • Name a good product that’s marketed poorly. What would you do differently?
  • What is your approach for sizing a market to see if it might be profitable for the company?
  • How do you narrow in on the best target consumer sector for your products?
  • Your development team has a new product, but you think the market is too saturated to be profitable. What do you do?
  • Describe a product you launched previously.

It’s not hard to see that these interview questions are looking for specific professional experiences and the interviewer definitely expects some details and specifics on previous projects.

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