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Where’s Your Product Marketing Manager?

Sridhar Ramanathan

By sridhar ramanathan
Posted on June 2011 in Product Marketing

It’s surprising to me how many high tech company executives assume product managers can handle two very different roles – product management and product marketing. What’s the difference? Well, we see product management as largely an “inbound” responsibility leading a cross functional team of product development, marketing, finance, operations, tech support, and management. Product managers are the veritable “general manager” of the product business. See my post on “10 Reasons to have Superb Product Management” for a deeper treatment on that role. The job of Product marketing, equally essential, is mostly focused on “outbound” areas such as:

  • Pricing and discount strategy
  • Product packaging/structure
  • Launch planning
  • Demand generation
  • Channel strategy
  • Competitive differentiation
  • Messaging and positioning
  • Voice of the customer
  • Market research
  • Marketing budget
  • Marcom
  • Sales training/enablement
  • Press and analyst relations
  • Online marketing

We’ve found that few product managers can handle both responsibilities well because the ideal qualifications for the two roles can be quite different. We believe the marks of a great Product Marketing Manager are:

  • Sales savvy—sought after by the sales organization as the product expert
  • Credible—has deep understanding of customer needs and market dynamics
  • Strategic – recognizes market opportunities and influences product direction
  • Analytical – spots insight from data; facile with spreadsheets, analytic tools, and finance
  • Creative – proposes fresh ideas from website copy to strategic partnerships
  • Communicative – writes a blog, uses social media for thought leadership, passionate speaker
  • Smart – applies solid business judgment, quickly learns new things
  • Influential – has the ear of executives as well as line management

We’ll cover performance metrics in another blog post. Please let us know your own thoughts on Product Marketing Management in a high tech company.


  • Silicon Valley Product Management Association
  • Pragmatic Marketing
  • 280Group on product management
  • SDForum Marketing SIG