What is a Product Marketing Manager? (2023)

A product marketing manager (PMM) tells the product’s story to the market. The PMM’s job is to understand the product’s value proposition and turn that information into compelling messages for customers, prospects, and internal audiences.

What is a Product Marketing Manager? (1)

While PMMs and product managers have plenty of overlap and interactions, they each have distinct responsibilities that shouldn’t be blurred or confused. They must, however, work as a team to achieve the shared vision and objectives for the product.

What is a Product Marketing Manager? (2)

6 Key Responsibilities of a Product Marketing Manager

Product marketing managers liaise between the product and audiences, including sales, marketing, customers, and prospects. Their tasks include the following:

  • Developing user and buyer personas.
  • Researching the market to learn the competitive environment.
  • Working with the marketing team to create materials that highlight product features and benefits.
  • Training the sales teams on articulating the products’ benefits to prospects.
  • Developing the go-to-market strategy.
  • Working with product management to define goals and metrics for the product launch.

Where do they report?

Product marketing managers report either to product management or the marketing department. In modern organizations, it is more common to find PMMs part of the marketing team. The reasoning behind this approach is logical. With product marketing closer to marketing, the PMM’s knowledge and strategic thinking will help the marketing department develop more relevant tools and campaigns.

How Product Management Can Collaborate with Product Marketing Managers

Product managers and product marketing managers should work closely together. They can form a strategic team that guides a product from development through a successful market launch. Thanks in part to messaging that resonates with the product’s user personas.

The product management team, for example, handles strategic oversight of the product’s development. PMs set the strategic objectives and priorities for the product. Moreover, they look for opportunities to take advantage of trends or voids in the market.

At the same time, in coordination with the product team, the PMM will translate the product’s strategic objectives into a message designed to resonate with its intended user base. They will also set a strategic plan for telling this story to the right people to maximize the product’s chances of success.

How to Become a Product Marketing Manager

Like many product-related roles, there’s no set career path for becoming a product marketing manager. But what they all have in common is a strong interest and belief in the merits of the product they’re marketing. They want to hone and spread the story of its benefits and value for customers.

Some get their start in more general marketing roles. They may find an affinity for crafting the messaging and positioning around the product instead of working on lead generation or advertising activities. Others may begin in product management but find they’re more interested in outward-facing work than dealing with developers and more technical issues.

Management consultants, analysts, or even account managers or customer service staff may also find their way to this particular calling, marrying their understanding of the market and the product with their communication skills. And it’s not uncommon for product managers to transition to the product marketing side of the house.

There are also several online product marketing management classes and certificate programs for those looking to burnish their skills, round out their resume or give themselves an official stamp of approval. A marketing degree or MBA can also make you a more attractive candidate.

Hiring managers are ultimately looking for people with diverse skills that are comfortable collaborating with everyone from engineers to salespeople to customers to executives. PMMs are finally telling the company about the market while educating the market about the company’s products. They need the baseline business savvy to understand and size opportunities paired with managing and executing compelling, creative campaigns.

What are Some Product Marketing Manager Goals?

The daily life of a product marketing manager is incredibly varied. One moment they’re working on high-level strategic planning, and the next, they’re polishing up the bullet points on a sell sheet. Both are crucial to the product’s success.

A PMM’s work aligns with the product’s success, so many of their goals will be similar to those of other teams. Hitting KPIs related to trial, growth, adoption, revenue, and churn are influenced by PMM work and serve as a good gauge of how things stand.

But PMMs also have more specific goals. If there’s one metric PMMs own more than any other, it’s Net Promoter Score, so measuring and improving that number often tops their list. Continually improving the ROI of marketing campaigns and launches and refining go-to-market tactics and strategies are crucial.

PMMs may even survey the sales team to measure their satisfaction with the messaging and sales enablement tools PMMs arm them with. Other barometers of success are shortening the sales cycle, cutting down on customer returns and trials that don’t convert, and successful expansion into new target markets.

At the individual level, PMMs should also have more personal goals, such as bolstering their knowledge and facility with their marketing products. They can achieve this by using win-loss interviews and surveys to expand their market understanding. The command can help them increase the brand’s power and thought leadership within the industry. Once the business reaches a certain level of maturity, PMMs may also spend time automating, operationalizing, and standardizing their department’s activities to scale its growth.

5 Skills Every Product Marketing Manager Should Have

The specific responsibilities of product marketing managers vary based on the overall size of their teams, their budgets for outsourcing, and the type of products they’re marketing. But there are a few universal skills managers expect PMMs to bring to the table.

Communication skills

Effective communications remain a must for anyone in product marketing since the entire job centers on their ability to convey the product’s value proposition to a broad audience with varying levels of familiarity with their product, the problems it solves, and the category or industry as a whole. PMMs are also often responsible for training the sales team on how to position, sell, and demonstrate the product, which uses a few different muscles than simply telling a prospect how great the product is.

Exceptional storytelling chops are essential for a PMM to succeed. It’s not just about the list of bullet points and product specs. And it’s connecting that product attributes to how they make life better for customers.

Creativity

To make their products stand out in a crowded marketplace, all clamoring for buyers’ attention, PMMs must possess innate creativity. From ads to content to slogans, PMMs have numerous opportunities to craft novel, fun, and powerful campaigns all intended to build awareness, educate, and eventually convert prospects into sales.

Stakeholder management extends those communication skills, as PMMs interact internally with a diverse set of colleagues. To fully understand the product capabilities, they’ll need to work closely with the product team, with whom they may also share feedback they’re getting from the field.

Creating a good report with the sales team is also essential, as they’re on the front lines delivering the messages PMMs create and witnessing first-hand how prospects react. And, of course, PMMs must stay on the same page as the executive team as to how the product gets positioned impacts the overall perception and valuation of the company as a whole.

Empathy

Product marketing managers need empathy to understand customers and their pain points better. Even if they’ve never been in their shoes, PMMs must at least be able to imagine themselves there so they can better craft messages that will resonate with those individuals.

An added wrinkle is that the eventual user of the product isn’t always the person with purchasing power. PMMs must win over both cohorts, which requires comprehending each of their perspectives and delivering the right messages for both audiences.

Qualitative and quantitative Skills

PMMs rely heavily on their research and analysis skills, both quantitative and qualitative varieties. They frequently conduct market analysis to see how their products stack up against the competition and fit into the overall industry landscape. Additionally, they must translate what they’re hearing and seeing from the market regarding problems to be solved and jobs to be done and then identify and explain how the product can fix those issues or make processes faster, cheaper, or less painful.

PMMs also must analyze the performance and effectiveness of their various go-to-market activities. Calculating the ROI, tweaking messaging and creatives, optimizing targeting, and selecting the ideal channels and mediums for connecting with key decision-makers is crucial to the success and growth of the product.

What is a Product Marketing Manager? (3)

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