What is a Product Marketing Manager?

  • Updated: 10 July 2024
  • 7 minutes
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The role of a Product Marketing Manager (PMM) is on the rise in the Tech industry. More and more companies are recruiting and structuring their teams around this new role. What is the role of a Product Marketing Manager? What are their missions? How do you become a PMM? Through this article, we share our knowledge and definition of this new profession!

Summary

I- What is the role of a Product Marketing Manager in a company?

II- What is the difference between a Product Marketing Manager and a Product Manager?

III- How to become a Product Marketing Manager?

👀 What is the role of a Product Marketing Manager (PMM) in a company?

Definition of Product Marketing

Product Marketing is a discipline that aims to drive Product growth by ensuring effective Product positioning and a Go-To-Market (GTM) strategy. This involves identifying the value proposition to be highlighted to a target market segment, defining the best way to reach this target, and supporting the execution of this plan.

In the absence of a Product Marketing Manager (or team), there is always some Product Marketing being done, sometimes more or less consciously. It is usually carried out by the company's CEO who communicates an internal positioning based on their vision. Product Managers develop the product accordingly and promote the new features they have worked on internally. Meanwhile, the Marketing team defines messages and marketing campaigns, and the sales team creates their pitches.

The missions of the Product Marketing Manager

Their missions are quite standard, though they vary depending on the company, organization, and needs. Generally, they include:

  • Understanding the market and competitors: The PMM must understand the context in which their product will evolve. They identify trends and have a strong responsibility in knowing the competitors. They ensure the internal dissemination of these pieces of knowledge, especially to Product teams to help create a competitive product, to Sales teams to have the right arguments for prospects, and to management to ensure understanding of the competitive environment and inform company strategy.

  • Understanding customers: This refers to customers or prospects in the sense of "buyers." The PMM needs to understand their needs and decision-making drivers when purchasing. Again, the PMM is responsible for sharing these pieces of knowledge internally with the teams mentioned previously, as well as the Marketing team to define messages that resonate with the target and to identify communication channels to reach it.

  • Defining product positioning: Once there is a good understanding of the product's context and customer needs, the PMM ensures the definition of an effective positioning. Their goal is to ensure that the product is the best it can be for a specific target with an identified need.

  • Creating messages: Once positioning is clear, the PMM is responsible for creating messages and the story to be told about the product. They may not necessarily write all the content, but they collaborate with the Marketing team. They ensure the message's substance is correct, not necessarily its form. Messages must also be consistent with the brand's overall communication.

  • Managing launches: The PMM is in charge of the GTM strategy. Depending on the new feature's potential, they define the launch tactic, the highlighted value proposition, and co-create a plan with Marketing and Sales teams detailing the channels to be worked on, for example. They set launch objectives and monitor them once the product is launched, proposing corrective actions if necessary.

  • Marketing and sales animation: After the launch, the PMM contributes to the development of product lines, as the market and customer needs constantly evolve. They ensure continuous monitoring to update positioning, messages, and strategies. They should be able to propose a plan to address a new target or increase market share with an existing target.

  • Participating in offer definition: The PMM also plays a role in defining offers, in collaboration with the Sales and financial management. They bring their market and customer knowledge.

This is just a summary of the PMM's missions. We could go into much more detail, which we have done in our Product Marketing framework.

The role of the Product Marketing Manager in a Product organization

In an organization where digital is at the heart of the company's strategy, the Product team is responsible for the action plan and roadmap, ensuring value creation. Product Managers collaborate daily with Tech teams to design and develop a product that impacts customers and users. They prioritize developments and make decisions by consulting other teams.

However, there is often a real difficulty in reconciling Product strategy with business challenges. Product Managers are often absorbed in supporting the Tech team, and depending on the organization, the number of business stakeholders can sometimes be too high for PMs to effectively collaborate with them, understand the diverse challenges, and filter through all the insights they receive.

The impact is often frustration among business teams. They may be disappointed or not understand the value provided by the product. Additionally, products can underperform because they are poorly marketed.

Product Marketing

This is where the Product Marketing Manager comes in! They reconnect the Product with business teams by collaborating daily with them to distill an understanding of the product, help them grasp the value proposition, and ensure they have the tools needed to achieve their goals. Moreover, the presence of the PMM allows the Product team to have eyes and ears to better understand field difficulties. Thus, they bring a high-level vision through in-depth analysis. They work to reconnect the Product vision, often created with a good market understanding, with the PM roadmaps by educating them about the market and customers.

⚡️ What is the difference between a Product Marketing Manager and a Product Manager?

As mentioned earlier, a Product Manager focuses on Tech teams. They are responsible for the Product roadmap and make prioritization decisions. The PMM, on the other hand, is more focused on marketing and sales teams, in charge of the Go-To-Market strategy.

This does not mean the PM never talks to marketing and sales! But they do not collaborate deeply with them. It is the PMM who does so by identifying their problems and building solutions to help them achieve their goals.

We have written an article on the roles and responsibilities of a PM and PMM, but if we were to summarize it in one sentence: the PM and PMM share the success of the Product. They must work as a tandem, each one of them influencing the other's decisions.

🎓 How to become a Product Marketing Manager?

What skills to develop to become a Product Marketing Manager?

You probably already understand that there are some key skills to develop to become a PMM:

  • Research, Analysis, and Synthesis: One should be able to conduct market research and use analytical tools to gather information on the market, competitors, and customers. One should also have an in-depth knowledge of marketing and sales data. All these insights must be synthesized into a high-level vision of the company's business challenges.

  • Oral and written communication: A PMM must communicate effectively, especially with sales and marketing teams.

  • Situational intelligence: Adapt your approach to different interlocutors and contexts, whether interpersonal or group relationships.

  • Lateral leadership and influence capacity: A PMM must be able to engage teams, for example in product launches, and influence their decisions as well as those of stakeholders.

  • Project management: Be able to lead cross-functional projects in the company and ensure their timely delivery.

  • Marketing strategy: A PMM must know how to develop a clear marketing strategy for the product, including market segmentation, positioning, promotion, and distribution.

What qualities to develop to be recruited as a Product Marketing Manager?

There are some intrinsic qualities useful for being a good PMM:

  • Curiosity: Curiosity is a PMM's primary driver, guiding them to better understand the market, competitors, and customers, as well as the product and internal organization. Each experience as a PMM brings new things to learn. One must have a desire to do so continually!

  • Customer sensitivity: It goes without saying, a PMM without customer sensitivity will struggle to have an impact!

  • Market knowledge and technical understanding: This is essential and sometimes involves technical skills to grasp information (technical knowledge for a very complex product, etc.).

  • Understanding organizational and business challenges: Adapting to the organization and evolving with it is crucial. Without this sensitivity, the PMM will struggle to adapt to organizational and business challenges.

What training is needed to become a Product Marketing Manager?

Like Product roles, there is no academic training to become a PMM. A typical path often involves a business school, but it is not a prerequisite!

There are still few training programs on Product Marketing. At Thiga, we created a 2-day training program to go into more detail on the PMM role and the collaboration they must create with teams, as well as the various tools to help them be effective in their missions.

How to make a career change to become a Product Marketing Manager?

There is no standard path, and few PMMs have entered the workforce directly in this role! The profession is still relatively new, at least for digital products... Some career paths allow for capitalizing on useful experiences and skills, especially for internal evolution:

  • Generalist marketing profiles: They can leverage their understanding of marketing strategies. Their challenge will be to develop a customer focus and conduct interviews. They will also need to become accustomed to Product organization challenges.

  • PMs with a strong business and customer focus: They are good candidates if they want to deepen their market and customer understanding and lead product launches. They will need to develop skills in “marketing strategy.”

  • Customer-facing roles (Account Manager, Account Executive, etc.): They can leverage their customer and business sensitivity. They will need to develop skills in marketing strategy and Product challenges.

Two other, rarer, but interesting career paths:

  • Core industry roles: For example, a developer for a product aimed at Tech teams or a lawyer for a legal product. These individuals will have a good market and customer understanding from day one as a PMM. Their challenge will be learning the tricks of the trade.

  • Product Managers who have worked on physical products: Often overlooked, the PMM role has existed for decades in the consumer goods sector! A Product Manager will have a very clear vision of what they need to bring to the company. However, they will need to adapt to a Product organization that works in an agile mode and understand distribution channels.

What is the salary of a Product Marketing Manager?

Salaries vary depending on seniority and are quite similar to those of PMs. A junior (0 to 2 years of experience) can be hired around €38K, and salaries can rise to €90K or €100K for a Head of (10+ years of experience). For more details, feel free to read our latest study!

Of course, career changers can partially leverage their past experiences and will be on the higher end of their PMM seniority range.

What are the career prospects for a Product Marketing Manager?

As in all professions, a junior PMM starts with operational topics such as creating product marketing materials, participating in launches, and conducting market analysis. As they take on more responsibilities (ownership of messages, sales training), seniors begin participating in strategic discussions (product launch strategy and tactics, positioning evolution).

The more senior a PMM becomes, the more complex topics they tackle and the more cross-functional projects they manage until they take on team management.

And then? We find that Heads of PMM usually move towards marketing responsibilities. To move towards Product responsibilities, gaining operational experience is essential to understand the necessary collaboration with Tech teams and handle Product organization topics.

For more information: Download our Product Management Toolkit