I want to start with a personal anecdote, The lyrics of “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” contain the famous Lennon quote “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” I can relate to this line and here is why. I was on the fast track of a product manager career and ended up as a product marketing manager in Aqua Security, and I am happy that this happened – Thank you Omer! 18 months ago, I applied to a PM position in Aqua security, I got called for a series of interviews, I can say that I shined on each interview but at the end got a NO!! – I got the famous “We are sorry, but we choose to move forward with a different candidate”

But why?

Never mind I said to myself I moved on and forgot about the whole thing, 2 months have passed, and I get called in again... this is a mistake I think to myself… I email the person that I interviewed me, and he said to me ” come in and keep an open mind” the rest is history and I started to work as a product marketing manager.

I know firsthand how significant both disciplines are in driving the growth of the business. Unfortunately, in some cases not properly defining the responsibilities of product management and product marketing can cripple the organization’s ability to build and ship products. Both are responsible for product launches of customer-facing products, whether it’s a physical entity or virtual software. Both need to coordinate different groups within a company to ensure that the product release is successful.

So, what is the difference you ask?

  • Product managers are responsible for leading the future of the product, the PM sets the strategic vision and defines the “why,” “what,” and “when” of what gets in the product. The PM works mostly with the eng team and tackles the “how” to build the product.
  • Product marketing managers are responsible for leading the go-to-market(GTM) for that product. They communicate the “why,” “what,” and “when” of the product to prospects and internal stockholders. A PMM main goal is to clearly explain the unique value of the product.

Another example that can define the areas of accountability for each role can be taken from the book The Alchemy of Growth, the authors propose that a healthy, growing organization needs to focus simultaneously on three things:
1.    Sustaining the business - > current products
2.    Growing the business – next products assure growth
3.    The future of the business – future products assure long-term viability

  • Product marketing managers focus on today
  • Product managers focus on tomorrow

I like Drift’s infographic on the main difference between the roles.

Which Role Suits you??

Product management and product marketing overlap in many ways. The core skills and required qualities for each role also vary and should be considered before determining which role is right for you.
I want to share from my experience what I found as a challenge at the beginning, I hope it will help people that want to shift into PMM positions and help them prepare for the role.

Let’s start with the positive, as I see it both roles will require you to:

  • Have a full focus on the product
  • Be a problem solver, for prospects and internal stockholders
  • Have the ability to drill down to the core value proposition
  • Be a people person is a must, as you influence people.
  • Rely on data and non-vanity metrics and know how to measure actual success.
  • Have solid writing skills

So, what I found as challenging?

  • Until this point on time, I never encounter tools like marketing automation, social media management, content management systems, and more, delivery methods such as ads, email campaigns, webinars, presentations, and pricing strategies were not familiar to me.
  • I needed to develop methods that will help me to track my success
  • My mindset was fixed to think features and roadmap, I have to developed new ways of thinking on how I can reach users.
  • I had to develop my “voice” and be a good storyteller, learn how to position my product when compared with competitors, and describe features as values.

Better together

Product Manager and Product Marketing Manager do work in different departments but should work as a team. Working closely to define and deliver the product with the right go-to-market strategy, with one person guiding their actions – The Customer.

Working side-by-side to deliver a product experience that exceeds customer and market expectations and their complementary responsibilities help take a product from the earliest strategy sessions to successful market adoption.