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Product Marketing vs Product Management: What's the Difference?

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A lot of hard work goes into launching profitable products. Many teams and stakeholders are involved — including product management and product marketing. These two roles kind of sound like different ways of saying the same thing, like Gershwin's tomato and tomahto. But they actually are more like apples and oranges...they are separate disciplines with distinct responsibilities.

So where exactly does one role stop and the other start? This can vary between companies, but there are some key areas of focus that make each role unique.

What is product marketing?

Product marketing brings the product to the marketplace. It builds on the established product strategy by developing marketing programs to build awareness, convert sales, and grow revenue.

Product marketers define how to position the product in the market. This sets the direction for creating a compelling story that communicates the value of the product, and coordinating the launch to global regions across sales channels.

What is product management?

Product management delivers products within a budget and timeframe to meet demand in the market. Product managers develop a deep understanding of market problems and business plans, and set the strategy for the solution.

This team works with suppliers and manufacturers to create initial concepts and acquire cost effective materials; and they ensure the business can make a profit when selling the products. 

Product managers guide the product from concepting through the product’s end of life.

"Product management is a lot less about building things right or in the right way and a lot more about building the right things for the right people." - Bob Samuels, Product Growth Manager, Widen

What is the difference between product marketing and product management?

Both roles research market needs, develop plans, collaborate with multiple departments, and deliver on the product vision. Both even use some of the same tools, such as personas, stories, and journey maps. So what’s the difference between the roles?

Product marketing manager

A product marketing manager understands the market and uses that information to bring the product to the marketplace and sell it. Deliberately positioning the product sets the foundation for all marketing communications. Here are some of their key responsibilities:

  • Market intelligence: Shape the company’s understanding and approach to the market. Gather intelligence on trends, the competition, and the customer; and use this information to develop and execute marketing programs.
  • Positioning: Apply knowledge of the market, the value of the product, and the target customer to develop messaging that clarifies why this product best fits the customer's needs.
  • Narrative: Develop product stories that demonstrate the value and benefits of the product in marketing and sales communications.
  • Launch plans: Plan and orchestrate product launches. Work closely with product, marketing, PR, sales, and customer-facing teams to maximize the impact of the launch. 
  • Marketing and sales enablement: Provide training and collateral to help accelerate deal velocity, increase win rates, and support retention.

Product manager

A product manager captures the voice of the customer and uses that voice to develop a useful, usable product. They are responsible for the product from conception through the end of its lifecycle, including:

  • Vision: Define and evangelize the vision for the product’s direction and how it supports the business’s goals.
  • Market needs: Discover the opportunity available and validate market problems. Create personas to represent the customer’s needs.
  • Requirements: Gather input and determine product requirements and specifications. Provide the “who” and the “why” and collaborate with engineering teams on the “what” and “how.”
  • Define success: Identify the measures for product success and use them to inform decisions.

Although the responsibilities of product marketers and product managers are distinct, their work entails close collaboration. Successful organizations are built on successful relationships, and the partnership between product management and product marketing is no exception.

Topics: PIM

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