Product Manager vs Product Marketing Manager

product manager vs product marketing manager

Here is the latest installment in our mini-series, where we look at the differences between Product Managers and complementary positions in the tech industry. Today, we’ll break down Product Manager vs Product Marketing Manager. We’ll look at Product Marketing Managers’ responsibilities for marketing a product, as well as how they can help you move into Product Management.

Product Manager vs Product Marketing Manager Definitions

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. Product Managers are responsible for determining which consumer issues to address. They accomplish this task by establishing the product strategy and roadmap, which includes new products and features.

Product Managers are also responsible for compiling and analyzing key metrics that address consumer pain points and how the product’s features will ease them. Still confused about product management? We have a blog post explaining what product management is in more detail. 

Product Marketing Manager

Product Marketing Managers are responsible for designing marketing materials that convey product attributes and developing marketing tools and promotions to attract new prospects and buyers. While both the Product Manager and Product Marketing Manager need to consider the end-user experience, they usually do so within different team arrangements.

Product Managers will typically liaison between the design and engineering teams, as well as stakeholders, while Product Marketing Managers will be more intimately involved with the go-to-market teams.

In smaller companies, Product Managers will typically take on the role of a Product Marketing Manager once the product is ready to go to the market.

Product Manager Responsibilities

Product Managers have several responsibilities distinct from Product Marketing Managers. Alongside communicating with software engineers, programmers, QA, and analysts to ship the product, they will need to create user stories to establish the product’s necessary features and how that creates the product’s market value position. Some other Product Manager 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

Product Marketing Manager Responsibilities

Conversely, a Product Marketing Manager will need to identify a consistent marketing approach. They will do this by conducting market research and competitor analysis to determine which product features highlight and provide consistent value propositions to the sales team.

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 into a go-to market strategy. Go to market strategy is different than marketing strategy as it focuses 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.

Overlap

If an organization is large enough, they will have two separate people filling the roles of Product Manager and Product Marketing Manager, allowing them to focus on their objects concurrently.

A company with both roles operating simultaneously can benefit from having the Product Manager formulating a roadmap based on what the end-users hope to achieve with the product. At the same time, the Product Marketing Manager can build their go-to-market roadmap on the user’s buying habits.

Additionally, while a Product Marketing Manager can be a lucrative position, if a company has both roles, Product Managers are typically higher in the corporate hierarchy.

Product Interviews

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.

Skills

The skills needed to accomplish the objects of a Product Manager parallels closely to those required of a Product Marketing Manager. Both positions require tact to lead a diverse subset of teams to ensure a unified vision is shared across multiple departments. 

This is complemented by the fact that Product Managers and Product Marketing Managers need to be intimately familiar with their target demographic and its specific wants and needs. 

Product Manager vs Product Marketing Manager

Moving into a Product Manager position from a Product Marketing Manager position is a convenient shift, as both focus on the end-user. Many of the tasks required of a Product Marketing Manager are directly applicable to a Product Manager, only with a slight alteration to objectives. With careful planning, you can learn to leverage your existing skills and succeed during the interview process.

Looking to transition in product management? Schedule a free career coaching session with our in-house team of PM recruiter experts. While you wait for your scheduled time, why not go ahead and join our Product Manager Job Hunters community group? We’d love to hear from you.

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