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Product Marketing vs. Product Management: Understanding the Two Roles

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Emily Dumas on Wed, Oct 9, 2019

Product Marketing and Product Management are integral roles in every product-focused organization. Both roles have their own unique responsibilities, but in order for a company to be successful, these two teams need to divide and conquer product tasks. Creating, marketing, and iterating on products would not be possible without collaboration between the two teams. So, where exactly is the line between the two departments? Let’s take a look at how product marketing and product management differ, and how they work together for success.

What is Product Marketing?

The role of a product marketer can be simplified into five words - responsible for marketing the product. The only catch is that product marketing isn’t that simple, and there are many moving parts that go into successfully marketing a product. No two product marketing roles are the same because no two products or organizations are the same. Product marketing is a combination of sales, marketing, and product, and a great product marketer works cross-functionally to ensure overall success.

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Common Responsibilities of a Product Marketer

Go-To-Market Strategy

The product marketer is responsible for designing and executing the go-to-market strategy: what to sell, where to sell, and how to sell it. 


If you build a great product and no one knows about it, did you actually build a great product? It’s the role of a product marketer to turn the technical language of a product and translate it in a way that sells it to the public. 

Not only does the product marketer need to be responsible for communicating product information to the public, but they also need to ensure that their messaging is resonating with the right audience. When crafting new messaging, PMMs need to avoid falling victim to the “cupholder conundrum.” The cupholder conundrum is when product marketers focus on the wrong thing - similar to a car company advertising all of the sleek new features of their latest model. They end up missing what customers truly care about - how many cup holders are in the car. Listening to your market and re-working your messaging to address customer pain-points is a major responsibility of product marketers.

Competitive and Market Research

Every department can benefit from competitive and market research. Competitive Intelligence (CI) allows product marketers to keep a competitive edge with pricing, packaging, messaging, and more. They can also use the intel to create effective sales collateral, such as up-to-date battlecards. Understanding the market is key for understanding what your customers want, and how you stand out against competitors. You can learn a lot about your competitors from what customers are saying.

Sales Collateral

Arming your sales team with relevant collateral can make all the difference between winning and losing a deal. Once competitive and market research is conducted, product marketers can leverage the intel to create battlecards, product briefs, case studies, and more. In addition, providing the sales team with key talking points can prepare them for answering tough questions from prospects and preparing them to handle any competitive objection that comes their way It’s important to remember that sales enablement is critical for every stage of the sales funnel, so it’s important to listen to your sales reps and provide them with the most relevant materials to help them win.

What is Product Management?

While product marketers determine what to sell, how to sell it, and where to sell it, product managers decide what to build, when to build it, and why to build it. Essentially, product managers are responsible for determining what products would be valuable for their market, feasible for the company to build, and how to execute on those points to maximize the value for the customer. Product managers want to understand what the needs of the customer are, and use customer feedback to help the developers iterate on the product. A primary responsibility of a product manager is working closely with designers and developers to create, build, and deliver excellent products to their market.

Common Responsibilities of a Product Manager

Define Customer Needs

A product manager’s (PM) job is to understand what the needs of the customer are - what are their pain points? What are they interested in seeing from the next iteration of the product? The PM will investigate, listen, and then leverage their findings to inform product decisions. A great way to define customer needs is to listen to what current customers have to say. Not only your customers, but also your competitors’ customers

Translate Product Requirements to Engineering

Product managers always have the customer in mind. The product manager is the biggest internal customer advocate, meaning that they have to be the voice of the customer. After defining and understanding the customer needs, they then relay that information to the development team so that the product can improve to meet more market needs.

Competitive Product Research

Product managers should know not only their own product inside and out, but also their competitors’ products. They need to know the aspects where their products overlap, what the strengths and weaknesses are from each product, and then leverage that information to create the best product or feature to serve customer needs. 

Prioritize Product Initiatives

When product managers make product decisions, they need to consider the what, why, and when. What product are they building and/or releasing, when is the best time to release it, and why will this benefit the customer? The answers to these questions inform which product initiatives to fund and how to get the company on board with investing in some products or features over others.

Who Do They Work Closely With?

Product Marketers

Product marketers work cross-functionally within an organization. They work closely with everyone to ensure a smooth process from product creation to the customer experience.

Product Managers

Work closely with product marketing and the development team. The primary teams that product managers work with, are product marketing and product development. Aligning messaging, timelines, and development are critical for the success of a product.

Where do they overlap?

Product marketers and product managers work closely on product launches, iteration, competitive and market research, and ensuring the success of the product within the market. Product Marketers and Product Managers both have customer-focused mindsets, which fuels their day-to-day responsibilities. The roles are unique, but they are both extremely important for the overall success of a product.

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Click below to download our handy infographic outlining the differences between the two roles. 

Crayon Product Marketing vs Product Management

Originally published September 18, 2018. Updated on October 9, 2019. 

Topics: Product Marketing

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