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, even the roles, responsibilities, and skills of a product manager and a product marketing manager, who manage the respective disciplines, 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 dig deep into product marketing vs. product management and the roles of a product manager and product marketing manager.
What is product management?
Product management is an organizational function that focuses on the management of the complete lifecycle of the 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.
Product management is different from project management, which looks into the day-to-day details of a product’s development. And product management 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 deeply defining a product’s target audience, USP, and messaging and positioning, competitor research, and creation & distribution of the 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 because they both are concerned with the successful launch of the product to the market.
A product manager researches and analyzes the market because they want to make sure 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 because they want to make sure that the developed product is reaching its intended target audience and is portrayed in the best possible light.
A product manager focuses on creating the product that is the right market fit whereas a product marketing manager focuses on positioning the product effectively to the right audience with the intent to make users purchase the product.
There are also some clearly visible differences between these two disciplines and roles.
For example, product marketing is not concerned with the technology part or the development of the product, but product management is concerned with strategizing, development, and user experience of the product.
Though product marketing can influence feature development with its deep marketing insights at any stage of product development and product development can influence product marketing with its product offerings at any stage.
Product marketing vs. product management
Focuses on bringing the product to market
Focuses 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 team
Works closely with engineers, user-experience designers, and other stakeholders
Achieve business objectives by generating demand for products and accelerating sales
Achieve business objectives by delivering user-centric products that drive business growth
Focus on creating compelling product stories that resonate with your target audience
Gather 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 release, gathering feedback from end-users and stakeholders to iterate on the product to make improvements.
- 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 someone who is a master at technical development with good business understanding or a seasoned marketer with decent technical skills who can drive the creation of the product.
There is a certain set of skills a product manager needs to be successful in the role. Have a look at them.
- Communication skills: A product manager has to lead the marketing, development, and business aspects of a product. They should have good communication skills to understand others and convey messages in a way that everyone can comprehend.
- Project management: A product manager needs to 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: A product manager needs to have a decent knowledge of technical software development including coding, testing, and deployment to lead the overall product development.
- Research and problem-solving skills: A product manager should be able to research extensively to gain knowledge and find solutions to the problem. It is because they have to set a vision, guide teams through the product life cycle, and solve challenges daily.
- Analytical and strategic thinking: A product manager should be able to think analytically, critically, and strategically. It also requires the adaptability and flexibility of 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 profile and buyer personas.
- Performing competitor research to learn about your competitor’s 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 the 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 a failure of the product.
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 both product marketing and product 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 make sure that the product manager along with the technical development leader has 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
In this course, you will learn 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 about 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 concepts you need 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.
Course link: https://aipmm.com/cpmm
What is the salary of a product manager and a product marketing manager?
As per the Glassdoor estimates, the average salary for a Product Manager in the United States area is $125,778 per year, while the average salary for a Product Marketing Manager is $121,396 per year in the United States area.
The total pay range for a product manager is $121K – $206K/year. Whereas, the total pay range 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.