Behind every successful product, there are a number of stakeholders who all play critical roles in turning a vision into tangible results. One of those stakeholders is the product marketing manager (PMM) – a role that isn’t given due credit when discussing product development teams.
As the name suggests, a PMM is responsible for overseeing all of the marketing programs of new and/or existing products. However, the role entails a lot more than just that, and recruiters often don’t fully understand the job description.
To that end, in this article, we’ll discuss the product marketing manager role in great depth. Whether you’re a recruiter or an aspiring PMM, keep reading.
Let’s get started.
What is a Product Marketing Manager?
A product marketing manager is a leadership position that entails planning out, guiding, and taking accountability for marketing campaigns, strategies, and other marketing-related initiatives of (mostly) new products. These products could be anything, ranging from kitchen tools to a groundbreaking app.
The job description of a typical product marketing manager entails leading the marketing team, conducting market research, devising and executing a marketing strategy, and ensuring a stable product launch, among other things (more on this later).
PMMs are found in both startups and well-established enterprises. Their roles and responsibilities are pretty much the same as someone in a traditional marketing management role – to communicate the value of your product to a defined audience.
However, a PMM has to conduct the market research and build the marketing engine of a new product from the ground up, whereas marketing managers typically manage the lifecycle of existing products.
Product Marketing Manager vs. Product Manager
When asked about the difference between product manager and product marketing manager, people often get confused, even though there are some clear distinctions between the two.
PMM is a marketing role that falls under the broad umbrella of product management. It entails handling all the marketing-related activities that help distill the message and communicate the product value to the end-customers.
Product managers, on the other hand, oversee the complete product roadmap, from setting the vision to bringing it to the market. In simple words, you can think of a product manager as a jack of all trades, whereas product marketers have a more focused role. If you're interested in diving more in-depth, then you can check out all the resources we have inside Product Manager HQ.
As far as accountability and reporting structures are concerned, it all depends on the unique organizational structure of your company. Traditionally, product managers and PMMs work together on the same level in the hierarchy, with the latter reporting to the former and other key stakeholders.
What Does a Product Marketing Manager Do? [Roles & Responsibilities]
As with literally every other product management role, the exact job description of a product marketing manager isn’t the same in every organization. Some companies may have them assume a few additional responsibilities that the others don’t consider critical to the role.
However, at the end of the day, there are certain core roles and responsibilities that are the same for all PMMs.
Set Up and/or Lead the Marketing Team
Primarily, a product marketing manager is responsible for leading the entire marketing team (if any) and/or acting as a one-person in-house army and handling all the initiatives by themselves.
In startups, they’re also responsible for setting up the entire product marketing team from scratch. This entails:
- Assessing the requirements of the broader product management team
- Creating crystal-clear job descriptions for the roles needed in the company
- Set up and conduct interviews of candidates
- Recruit promising candidates and oversee their onboarding
Of course, not every PMM is expected to build up a team from scratch.
With a fully set up marketing team ready for action, the PMM takes charge and leads from the front. As a leader, the day-to-day tasks include:
- Delegating tasks to the employees
- Setting up a budget for the marketing team
- Guiding the day-to-day tasks
- Getting reports from the subordinates
In addition to the above, they may be responsible for anything else that helps them lead the marketing team.
Conduct Market Research
Another major responsibility of a product marketing manager is to conduct extensive market research to:
- Understand the pain points of the target audience or identify gaps in the market
- Validate the need for a product idea on behalf of the key stakeholders
- Come up with unique product features and create a positive customer experience
- Create resources for the sales team to help convert SQLs
- Ensure that the market demands align with the expectations of the stakeholders
For that purpose, the PMM employs different survey techniques to gather original data from different sources, condense all of that data into easy-to-understand insights.
Own the Go-to-Market (GTM) Plan for the Product
You can’t talk about product marketing without discussing go-to-market strategies.
In layman terms – and as the name suggests – a GTM is an elaborate plan to get a new product out there in the world.
It’s different from a traditional marketing strategy in the sense that it’s more focused on the short run, rather than the long run. A marketing strategy is focused on communicating the value proposition over a defined period of time, whereas the focus of a GTM plan is new product launch.
The PMM is responsible for creating and executing a solid GTM plan for a new product. This entails a number of things, including:
1. Specify the Value Proposition, Positioning, and Messaging
Based on the initial research, the product marketing manager first specifies the exact value proposition of the new product. This could be a feature, a benefit, or any other intrinsic value that makes the product attractive in the eyes of the target audience.
After that, the PMM specifies the positioning – which is basically the mental space that they want their product to occupy in the minds of their target audience. In other words, it’s how you’d want your customers to distinguish between you and your competitors.
Thirdly, the PMM – based on the positioning, company values, and other key factors – works on developing the messaging. It’s basically a list of key messages that a brand wants to use to communicate with the target audience to capture its interest.
By taking care of the value proposition, positioning, and the messaging, the PMM sets the foundation for the GTM.
2. Create Personas and Use Cases
The next step is to create clearly-defined buyer personas (also known as buyer profiles and user personas). This entails creating detailed profiles of their different types of potential customers, including their top pain points, their interests, what drives them, etc.
In addition, the PMM works to develop use cases – actual ways in which the end-customers will be using the product to make their lives easier.
3. Work on a Pricing Strategy
Depending on the overall value proposition they’re offering, the positioning, existing market, and economic variables, the PMM opts for a suitable pricing strategy.
Since it is a critical part of the overall product strategy, the PMM collaborates with the product manager, finance manager, and other key stakeholders, if needed, to set a suitable pricing for the product.
4. Create and Execute a Practical Marketing Strategy
At this point, the PMM works on a marketing engine. This entails:
- Building and managing a brand for the product
- Looking after individual marketing initiatives (content, SEO, paid ads, special events, lead generation initiatives, etc.)
- Aligning with the sales team and providing training and resources to personnel
- Specifying metrics that align with the strategic goals
- Coming up with a distribution strategy and executing it
Of course, each of the aforementioned points is just loosely summarized to give you an idea. Each task in itself entails a lot.
Maintain Consistent Communication with Stakeholders
In addition to all of the above, a product marketing manager is also expected to maintain strong communication with all of the key stakeholders.
To be specific, they have to:
- Report to the stakeholders on the progress of marketing initiatives
- Acting as a voice for the target customers to ensure a great product
- Ensure smooth collaboration between the different team members
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. A PMM is expected to maintain consistent communication with all concerned team members.
Find Out New Product Opportunities
This is somewhat covered in the market research-part, but we feel like it’s important to highlight it separately.
PMMs, in collaboration with other stakeholders, like the product manager, strategists, etc. tries to come up with new opportunities that their company can capitalize on. This could be a new feature for an already-existing product, a new market that they could enter, or an entirely new product from scratch (provided that they have that level of autonomy to make those decisions).
How to Become a Product Marketing Manager? [The Roadmap]
Now that we’ve talked about what a typical product marketing manager does, you may want to know how to become one if that’s your goal. Even if you’re a recruiter, this information could help you set realistic expectations.
Here is a quick breakdown:
1. Earn the Right Credentials
First and foremost, you’ll need the right set of credentials to build up your foundational understanding and skills critical to the role, and showcase your expertise to potential recruiters.
Although this isn’t mandatory everywhere in the world, some recruiters demand at least a bachelor’s degree in marketing management, business, or any other related field. Having a master’s degree will certainly give you a huge advantage.
In addition to the above, investing in different product marketing, product management, and sales certification courses will go a long way in building a solid career and stay up-to-date with the current trends.
2. Gather Relevant Experience
To be clear, product marketing manager is a relatively senior-level position. You can’t just become a PMM right after you finish college, unless you’re managing your own venture.
To get to this point, you need to gain a certain level of experience before you can qualify for this position (recruiters typically ask for 3-5 years of experience in product marketing).
If you’re completely fresh, start off with entry-level positions, like product marketing intern. You may also ask to volunteer if you’re unable to find any nearby-recruiters who are actively hiring.
Furthermore, if you’ve been in a more traditional marketing position for a while now, there’s nothing stopping you from switching towards the product-side.
3. Apply for Open Positions
If you feel that you have what it takes to become a product marketing manager, it’s only a matter of searching for potential recruiters and looking up open positions.
Some promising platforms where you can find jobs include LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor.
How Much Do Product Marketing Managers Earn?
Your pay package as a product marketing manager will depend on where you’re from and who you’re working for.
However, on average, product marketing managers make $104,101 per year in the United States according to reports on Glassdoor.
A PMM – like other key stakeholders – can determine the fate of any product. A solid profile can ensure a successful product.
All things considered, i.e., the exciting challenges that come with the role, high demand, and the attractive pay packages, a PMM is definitely a role to aspire for.