Product Marketing vs. Product Management Guide
A lot of hard work goes into launching profitable products. Many teams and stakeholders are involved, including product marketing and product management. The two may sound like the same thing, but they’re more akin to apples and oranges. Product marketing and product management are separate disciplines with distinct and important responsibilities. The two need to work together to create harmonious interactions between people and products, so naturally there’s some overlap.
But where exactly does one discipline stop and the other start? They can vary between companies, but there are key focus areas that make each unique.
What is product marketing?
Product marketing brings a product to the marketplace. It builds on the established product strategy by developing marketing programs to build awareness, convert sales, and grow revenue.
Product marketers define how to position a product in the market. They set the direction for a compelling story that communicates the value of the product, and they coordinate the launch to global regions across sales channels.
“Product marketing plays a pivotal role, bridging four critical groups: sales, product, marketing, and customer success. A proficient product marketer not only comprehends their market and target audience but also harnesses this insight to spearhead strategic and revenue-generating programs. Fostering these groups and initiatives together extends value and ensures internally and externally in-market and go-to market meet the expectations of our customers and the business.”
Garrett Moedl, Director of Product Marketing at Acquia
What is product management?
Product management delivers products within a budget and timeframe to meet demand in the market. Product managers develop a deep understanding of market problems and business plans and set the strategy for the solution.
Product managers guide the product from conception through the product’s end of life. This team works with suppliers and manufacturers to create initial concepts and acquire cost-effective materials, and they ensure the business can make a profit when selling the products.
“Product management is a lot less about building things right or in the right way and a lot more about building the right things for the right people.”
Chris Schroeder, Senior Director of Product Management at Acquia
Product management roles
Product managers are key to any product’s success because they define the vision, strategy, and roadmap for a product. It’s the discipline of identifying customer needs and guiding how the product fulfills those needs — and it must be done objectively. It can be easy to get caught up in unnecessary details when you’re passionate about your work and a product. But a product manager must strike the right balance of understanding customer needs and wants versus what the product team can realistically deliver. Without this, there’s no clear direction or prioritization for the teams tasked with delivering successful products.
While there are specific skill sets needed for specialized product management roles, all product managers must have domain expertise, business acumen, operational ability, and leadership qualities. Let’s look at the characteristics of more specialized product management roles as well.
- Product owner: This role works directly with a team of developers, designers, and testers, acting as the voice of the customer during the development process. They tend to focus more on tactics rather than strategy.
- Technical product manager: These product managers possess the technical know-how to guide the creation of product areas, such as back-end services and APIs. They often work hand-in-hand with engineering and development teams to ensure features and functionality work as desired to meet customers’ needs.
- Growth product manager: People in this role often have experience or education in digital marketing because they work closely with the marketing team to ensure the product performs as expected in the market. This role focuses on metrics, usually looking at all products as a whole, not just a single product.
What's the difference between product marketing and product management?
The main difference between these fields is that product managers are responsible for creating a product while product marketers are responsible for bringing it to market.
Both roles research market needs, develop plans, collaborate with multiple departments, and deliver on the product vision. They even use some of the same tools, such as personas, stories, and journey maps. So where do the differences lie? Mostly in their areas of focus.
A product marketing manager understands the market and uses that information to bring the product to life and sell it. This product positioning sets the foundation for all marketing communications. Product marketers shape the company’s understanding of and approach to marketing a product by gathering market intelligence on trends, the competition, and the customer. They then use this information to develop and execute marketing programs.
Product marketers apply their knowledge of the market, product, and customer to develop narratives around the value and benefits of the product in marketing and sales communications. They straddle the world of product and sales to develop and execute launch plans, as well as activate sales enablement tactics.
Product managers, on the other hand, capture the voice of the customer and use that voice to develop a useful, usable product. They are responsible for the product from conception through the end of its lifecycle. While they support the product marketer in many ways, their main focus lies in the product vision, meeting market needs, defining system requirements, and identifying metrics of success.
Product marketers and product managers working together
Although the responsibilities of product marketers and product managers are distinct, their work requires close collaboration. Successful organizations are built on successful relationships, and the partnership between product management and product marketing is no exception.
Interpersonal relationships notwithstanding, effective cross-organizational communication that translates to a unified digital presence requires the right technical tools, like a digital asset management system (DAM) to store all product images and a product information management (PIM) to store all product descriptions.
Acquia Digital Experience Platform (DXP) can combine this tech and more to bring your product or service to life across digital environments. If you’re curious about how it works, we’d be happy to show you.