What Do Product Marketers Do?

The definition for Product Marketing seems to be quite different, when one tries to draw the scope of roles and responsibilities. In some companies, it a very strategic multi-dimensional position, in some it is shared by a number of people.  There are functional overlaps with Product Management, there are functional overlaps with Market Research. So pondering on the scope of work or some sort of viable range of activities, I plunged on the journey to define the role myself. Why is that relevant on this blog? Because knowing the difference can actually redeem the value to the type of work Product Marketers do and  clarify the myths and misconceptions.

To start, I turned to wikipedia’s definition: “Product marketing frequently differs from product management in high-tech companies. Whereas the product manager is required to take a product’s requirements from the sales and marketing personnel and create a product requirements document (PRD),[2] which will be used by the engineering team to build the product, the product marketing manager can be engaged in the task of creating a marketing requirements document (MRD), which is used as source for the product management to develop the PRD. In other companies the product manager creates both the MRDs and the PRDs, while the product marketing manager does outbound tasks like giving product demonstrations in trade shows, creating marketing collateral like hot-sheets, beat-sheets, cheat sheets, data sheets, and white papers. This requires the product marketing manager to be skilled not only in competitor analysis, market research, and technical writing, but also in more business oriented activities like conducting ROI and NPV analyses on technology investments, strategizing how the decision criteria of the prospects or customers can be changed so that they buy the company’s product vis-a-vis the competitor’s product, etc..

In smaller high-tech firms or start-ups, product marketing and product management functions can be blurred, and both tasks may be borne by one individual. However, as the company grows someone needs to focus on creating good requirements documents for the engineering team, whereas someone else needs to focus on how to analyze the market, influence the “analysts”, press, etc. When such clear demarcation becomes visible, the former falls under the domain of product management, and the latter, under product marketing.

In other words, Product Marketer is a hybrid between Product Management and Marketing Communications? It also appears, that Product Marketers will pick up from the first “P” in charge (Product Manager) the developed product and translate its functionality and usage patterns for the communications specialists. They will also match back the functionality against the competitive products and validate the value with the customers that they chose and identified. In short, Product Marketers will take the product message and bring it to channels by working with communications and sales. Still blurry if described in words.

To my luck, I stumbled upon a new post on Steve Johnson’s blog, where he shared a new ebook that clearly defines functional lines between Product Management and Product Marketing.  But what I liked the most is the functional org chart he shared in the ebook where the roles not only well-defined, but also shown as a team with dependencies based on qualifications and expertise.  As an example, according to this ebook: “The Product Marketing Manager – (PMM) provides product line support for program strategy, sales readiness and channel support. This position requires close interaction with Marketing Communications and Sales Management.  Strong communication skills are a must.  Duties include converting positioning into key market messages and launching the products into market. The PMM owns:
- Defining buyer personas and determining market messages
– Maintaining product launch plans
– Identifying best opportunities in lead generation
– Creating standard presentations and demo scripts
– Writing white papers and technical communications
– Facilitating direct sales and channel training
– Supporting trade shows and other company-sponsored events
– Limited online channel support and phone assistance

The author also brings into the picture Technology Product Manager as another functional hybrid. 

 In conclusion, both sources (wikipedia and Pragmatic Marketing ebook) and even Geoff Moore referenced in the latter agree on the external focus of Product Marketer, who “usually talks to the market”, while Product Manager “listens to the market”.  The role is well-defined!