Product marketing and product management are two critical and distinct roles in a business, each with unique goals and approaches. Understanding the differences between these two functions is crucial for optimizing product strategies.
What is Product Marketing?
Product marketers and product managers have divergent skill sets, responsibilities, and mindsets, each contributing key perspectives that support a product’s lifecycle and overall success.
Product marketing is a strategic function within a company that focuses on promoting and positioning a product or service in the market. It involves understanding the target audience, conducting market research, and creating compelling messaging and positioning to effectively communicate the value of the product to potential customers.
The primary goal of product marketing is to drive demand and adoption of a product by creating awareness, generating interest, and ultimately converting prospects into customers. Product marketers collaborate closely with cross-functional teams like product management, sales, and communications to develop and execute marketing strategies that align with the company’s objectives.
Product marketers are responsible for conducting competitive analysis to identify market trends and opportunities, defining target customer profiles, and crafting messaging that resonates with the defined target audiences. They play a crucial role in launching new products, developing go-to-market (GTM) plans, and creating enablement materials to empower the sales team to effectively communicate value propositions and features.
Product marketers also collect feedback from customers, internal teams, and other stakeholders to understand market perceptions, identify product gaps, and inform product roadmap decisions. They are also responsible for monitoring the performance of marketing campaigns, analyzing metrics, and refining strategies to optimize results over time.
Product marketing acts as a bridge between the product development team and the market, ensuring that all offerings represented across the portfolio meet customer needs, and are effectively positioned to succeed. By combining market insights, consumer behavior analysis, and strategic messaging, product marketing is imperative to the success and adoption of products in a highly competitive marketplace.
Product Marketing: Skills
Product marketers require a diverse set of skills to effectively carry out their responsibilities and contribute to growth and profitability, including:
Market and customer research. Product marketers should be skilled in using various research methods and tools to identify customer needs, preferences, and pain points, as well as to assess market trends and competitive landscape.
Strategic thinking. Developing a deep understanding of the market and competitive positioning allows PMMs to formulate effective marketing strategies and plans.
Messaging and positioning. Crafting compelling messaging and positioning is essential for product marketers. They must be able to clearly articulate the value proposition of the product and differentiate it from competitors. Strong communication skills, both written and verbal, are crucial for effectively conveying the product’s benefits to various stakeholders.
Cross-functional collaboration. Product marketers work closely with multiple teams, including product management, sales, marketing communications, and customer support. Collaborative skills are essential for effectively working with these teams, aligning on goals, and ensuring a consistent and cohesive product message across all touchpoints.
Analytical abilities. Analytical skills are essential for product marketers to measure the success of marketing campaigns, track key metrics, and derive meaningful insights. They should be comfortable working with data, conducting A/B testing, and using analytics tools to inform decision-making and optimize marketing strategies.
Project management. Product marketers often manage multiple projects simultaneously, including product launches, marketing campaigns, and sales enablement initiatives. Strong project management skills are necessary to effectively plan, prioritize, and execute tasks, ensuring timely delivery and successful outcomes.
Adaptability and learning agility. The product landscape and market dynamics are constantly evolving. Product marketers need to be adaptable, open to learning, and willing to stay updated on industry trends, new technologies, and customer preferences. This enables them to continuously refine their strategies and adapt to changing market conditions.
These skills empower product marketers to effectively navigate the complexities of the global market, drive customer engagement, and contribute to the overarching success of the business.
Product Marketing: Scope of Work
The scope of a product marketer’s work extends throughout the product lifecycle, from the early stages of market research and positioning to post-launch activities such as ongoing marketing campaigns, customer feedback analysis, and market monitoring. Their role is essential in ensuring the product’s success by effectively understanding, communicating, and promoting its value to the target market.
Market and customer research. Conducting market research to identify target customer segments, understanding their needs, pain points, and preferences, and gaining insights into market trends and competitors.
Product positioning and messaging. Developing a clear and compelling value proposition for the product, crafting messaging that effectively communicates the product’s benefits and differentiation, and ensuring consistent positioning across all marketing channels.
Go-to-Market (GTM) strategy. Collaborating with cross-functional teams to develop comprehensive go-to-market strategies that align with business objectives, including defining target markets, establishing pricing strategies, and identifying distribution channels.
Product launch planning. Planning and executing product launches to generate excitement and drive adoption. This involves coordinating marketing activities, creating launch assets, and ensuring smooth communication and alignment across teams.
Marketing collateral and content creation. Developing sales enablement materials, such as product datasheets, presentations, case studies, and FAQs, to support the sales team in effectively showcasing the product’s value to potential customers.
Marketing campaigns. Developing and implementing marketing campaigns to create awareness, generate leads, and drive customer acquisition. This includes selecting appropriate channels, creating campaign assets, tracking performance, and optimizing campaigns based on data analysis.
Sales enablement. Collaborating with the sales team to provide them with the necessary knowledge, tools, and training to effectively sell the product. This includes developing sales training materials, conducting product demonstrations, and gathering feedback from the sales team.
Customer insights and feedback. Gathering feedback from customers through surveys, interviews, and customer interactions to understand their experiences, uncover areas for improvement, and inform product development decisions.
Competitive analysis. Monitoring the competitive landscape to identify market trends, assess competitor strategies, and identify opportunities and threats for the product. This includes analyzing competitor products, pricing, messaging, and go-to-market approaches.
Performance analysis and reporting. Tracking and analyzing key marketing metrics and performance indicators to evaluate the success of marketing initiatives, measure the return on investment, and inform future marketing strategies.
Product Marketing: Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Product marketers typically have several key performance indicators (KPIs) that are used to measure the success of their marketing efforts and the impact those efforts have on the product’s performance. These KPIs can vary based on the company, product, and specific goals—but common KPIs are:
Product adoption/market share. Businesses must pay close attention to the growth and adoption rate of their available products. Metrics include number of new customers acquired, market share percentage, and product penetration in target markets.
Revenue and sales performance: Tracking revenue generated from the product, sales growth, and sales pipeline metrics are crucial for assessing the product’s financial impact. KPIs may include total revenue, revenue by customer segment or geography, average deal size, and conversion rates.
Customer engagement and retention: Measuring customer engagement and retention rates is important for evaluating the product’s stickiness and customer satisfaction. KPIs in this area may include customer retention rate, customer lifetime value (CLTV), user engagement metrics, and customer feedback scores.
Marketing campaign effectiveness: Assessing the impact of marketing campaigns is vital for product marketers. KPIs can include metrics such as conversion rates, click-through rates (CTR), cost per acquisition (CPA), return on investment (ROI) for marketing campaigns, and attribution of sales to specific campaigns.
Brand awareness and perception: Evaluating brand awareness and perception in the market helps understand the product’s positioning and customer sentiment. KPIs may include brand recognition, brand sentiment analysis, social media mentions, and customer surveys on brand perception.
Competitive analysis: Monitoring and measuring the competitive landscape is essential for product marketers. KPIs may include metrics such as market share compared to competitors, customer preference analysis, and competitive win rates.
Product feedback and improvement: Gathering feedback from customers and stakeholders to inform product enhancements and updates is important. KPIs in this area may include the number of customer feedback submissions, customer satisfaction scores, and the impact of product improvements on user satisfaction.
Market research and insights: Assessing the effectiveness of market research initiatives is crucial. KPIs may include the quality and depth of market research, insights generated, and the impact of market insights on product strategy and decision-making.
It’s important to note that the selection of specific KPIs may vary depending on the organization’s goals, industry, and product type. Product marketers should work closely with their teams and stakeholders to define meaningful and relevant KPIs that align with overall business objectives and track the success of their marketing efforts.
What is Product Management?
Product management is a multifaceted role that involves overseeing the development and lifecycle of a product from ideation to launch and beyond. Product managers are responsible for guiding the strategic direction of a product, understanding customer needs, coordinating cross-functional teams, and ensuring the product’s success in the market. Finally, they possess a combination of strategic, technical, and communication skills that allow them to advocate for both the business and the customer, maintaining a necessary balance between market demands, business goals, and technical feasibility.
Product Management: Skills
Like product marketers, product managers need a diverse skill set to effectively perform their role and drive the success of a product. Things like market and customer research, strategic thinking, cross-functional collaboration, product lifecycle management, and stakeholder management overlap across both roles, but product managers generally have significantly more technical product experience than their marketing counterparts.
They don’t need to be software engineers, but a solid technical understanding helps product managers communicate effectively with developers, make more informed technical decisions, and bridge the gap between business requirements and technical implementation.
Some of these technical responsibilities include gathering and prioritizing requirements, analyzing and interpreting data, and becoming familiar with the company’s UX/UI. Product managers typically excel at extracting requirements from stakeholders, prioritizing them based on customer value and business impact, effectively managing scope and trade-offs. conducting A/B tests, and utilizing analytics tools to gain insights and validate hypotheses.
Product managers that possess strong leadership skills are better equipped to bring together cross-functional teams, even without direct authority. Effective communication, influencing, and decision-making abilities are essential for guiding projects, resolving conflicts, and fostering continuous learning and adaptability.
By developing these skills, product managers can effectively navigate the complexities of product development, drive continuously successful outcomes, and deliver products that meet customer needs while achieving short- and long-term business objectives.
Product Management: Scope of Work
The scope of work for a product manager can vary depending on the company, industry, and specific product. Broadly, product managers handle product strategy and vision, market and competitive analysis, defining and prioritizing product requirements, and developing products that meet market needs. Managing the product roadmap, setting milestones, and tracking progress are crucial responsibilities for PMs.
They are responsible for a number of other product elements, including:
- Collaborating with UX/UI designers to create intuitive and user-friendly product interfaces. Ensuring a seamless user experience and incorporating user feedback into design iterations are important for driving customer satisfaction.
- Planning and executing product launches, including developing go-to-market strategies, positioning the product, and coordinating marketing and sales efforts. This involves creating launch plans, training sales teams, and monitoring launch performance.
- Tracking key product metrics, such as adoption rates, revenue, and customer satisfaction, to assess product performance. Analyzing data, identifying areas for improvement, and implementing optimizations to enhance the product’s success.
- Engaging with customers through surveys, interviews, and feedback channels to understand their needs, preferences, and pain points. Incorporating customer feedback into product improvements and maintaining ongoing customer relationships.
- Effectively communicating product updates, progress, and strategy to stakeholders, including executives, cross-functional teams, and customers. Collaborating with stakeholders to align priorities, manage expectations, and ensure a shared understanding of product goals.
- Managing the end-of-life phase for products, including planning for product retirement, migration strategies, and customer communication. Ensuring a smooth transition and mitigating any potential negative impact on customers and the business.
The scope of work can vary based on factors such as the organization’s size, product lifecycle stage, and industry dynamics. The product manager’s responsibilities span from strategic planning and market analysis to execution, collaboration, and ongoing product performance management.
Product Management: Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Product managers typically have key performance indicators (KPIs) that help measure their success in driving product performance and achieving business objectives. While specific KPIs may vary depending on the organization, industry, and product type. These can include:
- The product’s impact on the company’s financial performance. This includes metrics such as revenue generated by the product, profit margins, and contribution to overall company growth.
- Tracking the adoption rate of the product and its market share provides insights into its market penetration and competitive position. KPIs in this area may include customer acquisition numbers, customer retention rates, and market share percentage.
- Regularly measuring customer satisfaction, conducting surveys, and tracking NPS provide valuable insights into the product’s user experience and its impact on customer loyalty.
- Measuring the time it takes to bring a product or features to market helps evaluate product development efficiency. KPIs may include product release cycles, time from idea to launch, and time to implement customer feedback or enhancements.
- Monitoring the product’s quality and identifying defects or issues helps ensure customer satisfaction and minimize support and maintenance costs. KPIs may include bug or defect rates, customer complaints, and product stability metrics.
- Tracking the adoption and usage rates of specific product features provides insights into user behavior and the value customers derive from those features. KPIs may include feature adoption percentages, feature usage metrics, and user engagement metrics.
- Assessing the product’s competitive positioning is important for product managers. KPIs may include market share compared to competitors, customer preference analysis, and win rates against key competitors.
- Monitoring the successful execution of the product roadmap ensures timely delivery and achievement of planned milestones. KPIs may include adherence to release timelines, completion of planned features, and roadmap deliverables.
- Assessing stakeholder satisfaction and alignment helps measure the product manager’s ability to collaborate and communicate effectively. KPIs may include stakeholder feedback scores, internal team satisfaction, and cross-functional alignment metrics.
- Measuring the product’s innovation and growth potential is important for long-term success. KPIs may include the number of new product ideas or innovations generated, the success rate of new product launches, and the impact of product enhancements on revenue growth.
It’s important for product managers to align their KPIs with the organization’s overall objectives and to regularly review and update them based on evolving business needs and market dynamics.
Product Marketing and Product Management
While there are similarities between product marketing and product management, it’s important to recognize that they are distinct roles with different focuses and responsibilities within the overall product lifecycle. Product marketing typically emphasizes external-facing activities such as positioning, messaging, and go-to-market strategies, while product management has a broader scope that includes strategic planning, product development, and internal collaboration.
Common responsibilities between product marketing and product management include cross-functional collaboration, market research and analysis, messaging, positioning, enablement, launch, and feedback. Overall, both product marketing and product management are customer-centric. They require a deep understanding of customer needs, preferences, and behaviors to develop and deliver products that meet those requirements effectively.
These roles both work closely with cross-functional teams, such as engineering, design, sales, and marketing. Each relies on market research and competitive analysis to gather insights and make informed decisions. They need to stay updated on market trends, understand the competitive landscape, and identify opportunities and threats in the market. It’s also important that they have a deep understanding of the product and its features, as well as the value those elements provide to customers.
This puts both of these roles at the helm of product messaging and positioning. Creating compelling narratives and campaigns that resonate with target customers, and accurately represent the product’s value proposition, is a collaborative effort. And while product managers primarily drive the product roadmap, product marketers also have input in shaping the roadmap based on market insights and customer needs.
Both roles contribute to the strategic direction of the product and collaborate to align product development with marketing and business goals. Product managers oversee the development and readiness of the product for launch, while product marketers develop marketing strategies and plans to create awareness, generate demand, and drive customer adoption during the launch phase and post-launch period. This includes delivering any enablement tools, resources, and information necessary to help the sales team sell the product to the right people.
There are a handful of specific differences between these roles that allows for end-to-end coverage of the product portfolio and lifecycle.
- Product lifecycle and portfolio. Product marketing focuses on external aspects of the product, like target customer understanding, market positioning, messaging, and driving customer adoption and demand. They’re responsible for later stages of the product lifecycle, supporting product launch, and tracking performance. Product management, on the other hand, takes a broader perspective, considering internal and external challenges and opportunities. This team handles the strategic direction of the product, overseeing the entire lifecycle, collaborating with cross-functional teams, and ensuring market success. They’re also focused on customer feedback, gathering requirements, and coordinating development.
- Internal and external communication. Product marketers excel at communicating product value to external audiences, creating messaging, collateral, and supporting sales teams. Product managers communicate and collaborate within the organization, coordinating efforts and managing expectations across organizations.
- Metrics and performance measurement. Product marketing is measured on metrics like customer adoption, satisfaction, market share, and demand generation. They track campaign performance and assess the success of product positioning and messaging. Product management is assessed on development efficiency, revenue, product quality, and customer feedback incorporation. They track time-to-market, as well as how releases impact revenue, customer retention, and growth.
While both roles contribute to a product’s success, they have distinct focuses and responsibilities. Product marketing emphasizes external aspects, while product management takes a broader perspective, ensuring alignment and driving the product’s overall strategy and how that plan unfolds.
Product marketing and product management share some core responsibilities that involve collaboration and alignment to ensure the success of a product. They include:
- Focus on the customer and their pain points
- Cross-functional collaboration
- Product positioning and messaging
- Managing product and feature launches
- Market research and assessment
- Competitive analysis
- Incorporating customer and market feedback
Both product marketing and product management roles require a deep understanding of target markets, customer needs, and competitive landscape. They have to prioritize understanding the preferences and behaviors of target consumers, and work to identify pain points, gather feedback, and ensure that the product addresses customer needs effectively.
While the specific focus and tasks may differ between product marketing and product management, these shared core responsibilities require collaboration, alignment, and a customer-centric approach to drive the success of a product. Effective communication and coordination between these roles are crucial to ensure the product meets customer needs, achieves business objectives, and gains a competitive edge in the market.
What Does Your Company Need?
Combining the expertise of product marketing and product management is what positions your products for success, captivates the audiences you’re after, and delivers exceptional value to existing customers. Support for (and collaboration between) these roles is key to achieving business objectives on time, and bringing winning products to market.
Product marketers must define and refine their product’s value proposition and unique selling points. They also need to articulate the product’s benefits, features, and competitive advantages—crucial for creating compelling messaging that resonates with a specific audience. Organizations with the right tools in hand have the power to make or break growth and penetration opportunities for a business.
Productboard makes it easier to determine and deliver powerful positioning and compelling content, while supporting every aspect of the product marketing function. It also provides features to capture and organize customer feedback, conduct user research, and analyze market trends. This enables businesses to gain accurate, real-time insights into their target customers, understand their needs and behaviors, and identify market opportunities.
The platform allows businesses to develop comprehensive product roadmaps that outline effective marketing tactics, channels, and campaigns for a successful product launch and promotion. It facilitates collaboration and alignment among cross-functional teams, ensuring that everyone is working towards the same go-to-market strategy, and enables businesses to centralize and manage marketing collateral, sales enablement materials, and website content.
For product managers, Productboard brings together everything necessary to develop a clear product strategy that’s fully aligned with business goals, market trends, and customer needs, so that every launch makes a valuable and profitable impact. PMs can easily gather requirements and prioritize them based on customer value, business impact, and technical feasibility, while overseeing the entire product development lifecycle—ensuring timely delivery, adherence to quality standards, and milestone achievements.
Overall, companies need product marketing to effectively position, promote, and generate demand for their products, while product management is required to drive strategic product development, ensure customer satisfaction, and achieve business objectives.
The Importance of Product Marketers
Product marketers play a crucial role in organizations by effectively positioning products in the market, generating customer demand, supporting sales efforts, and providing valuable market insights. They differentiate products from competitors by creating compelling messaging that highlights unique value propositions, benefits, and differentiation.
Through extensive market research, analysis of customer insights, and monitoring industry trends, they gain a deep understanding of the target market and make informed product decisions. By driving customer demand through marketing tactics and campaigns, they create awareness, generate interest, and encourage product adoption, ultimately driving revenue growth. They also provide crucial support to the sales team through the creation of sales materials, product documentation, and training resources to effectively communicate the product’s value and close deals.
Product marketers ensure successful product launches, develop go-to-market plans, and manage the product’s lifecycle by tracking performance and adapting marketing strategies. They gather and analyze customer feedback, shaping product development decisions to align with customer expectations. By monitoring competitors’ products, positioning, and strategies, they identify market trends, threats, and opportunities for differentiation, enabling organizations to stay ahead of the competition.
Acting as customer advocates, they represent the customer’s perspective, ensuring product decisions prioritize customer needs and contribute to a positive experience. Overall, product marketers drive product success through effective positioning, demand generation, sales support, and market insights.
The Importance of Product Managers
Product managers are important because they define the strategic direction of a product, and possess a uniquely deep understanding of the market and customers. By collaborating with cross-functional teams, gathering and prioritizing requirements, overseeing product development and execution, prioritizing user experience and quality, monitoring metrics and performance, and driving iterative improvement, they contribute to revenue and business growth, and can advocate for the customer even as demographics shift.
Product managers ensure the successful development, launch, and ongoing management of products, bridging the gap between strategy, customer needs, and technical execution to drive innovation, revenue, and customer satisfaction.
Product Marketing vs. Product Management: Do You Need Both?
Companies typically need both product marketing and product management roles to effectively develop, launch, and promote their products. While their responsibilities and focus differ, both roles are essential for driving the success of a product in the market.
It’s important that both of these roles be filled and their respective swim lanes (and overlapping goals) clearly identified. Product management needs to be involved in strategic alignment, customer understanding, product development, market positioning, customer acquisition, sales enablement, customer advocacy, and market intelligence. But product managers specifically own and define the strategic direction of the product itself, ensuring alignment with business goals, and capturing requirements. They oversee development, helping to prioritize features that directly address customer needs.
Product marketing, however, focuses on market positioning, messaging, and go-to-market strategies. They drive customer acquisition, generate demand, enable sales, and act as customer advocates. Both roles monitor the market and competition, gathering insights to inform product strategies and identify growth opportunities.
By having both product marketing and product management functions, companies can effectively bridge the gap between customer needs, product development, and market positioning. These roles work collaboratively, aligning the strategic vision with customer insights, product development, marketing efforts, and sales execution. This collaboration helps companies deliver products that meet customer demands, drive revenue growth, and gain an edge against competitors.
Leading businesses rely on Productboard to orchestrate and align product marketing and product management for improved business outcomes and growth. Build more agile roadmaps, accelerate time-to-value, and get better products to market faster. Start a free trial today to discover how Productboard can help you build product marketing and management strategies, programs, and offerings that are successful, scalable, and sustainable.