Project Manager, Product Managers, and Product Marketing Manager

Great write up from Rob Grady about the Difference between a Product Manager and a Project Manager.

Thanks Ron, now that’s cleared up, let’s take a look at another similar role.

Product Manager vs Product Marketing Manager
I know that folks have a hard time understanding the difference between product managers and product marketing managers. At many startups, the Product Manager may do the marketing role, or in some cases the roles will be split between the Product Manager and Community Manager.

Here’s a definition of a Product Marketing Manager from Wikipedia:

“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 later, under product marketing. In Silicon Valley, in particular, product marketing professionals have considerable domain experience in a particular market or technology or both.”

I typically view that Product Marketing Managers are ‘outbound’ and are responsible aligning the product with the market/customer. The could/should deliver the requirements to the Product Manager who will build the requirements into the development or engineering cycle.

Community Managers can obtain requirements
As mentioned above, the Community Manager (a new role that’s emerged) can also deliver customer requirements to product teams. I’m a Community Manager, and I know several, we’re working on a project to start to define our role. Unlike a PM or PMM, the primary role is to be a customer advocate or community advocate. Sometimes a CM should line up the right folks in the company to communicate with the community –kinda like a messenger. More to come on this later.

Compensation
In my experience, usually the Product Manager, Product Marketing Manager in Silicon Valley often justly deserve a six figure salaries. I suspect project managers depend on experience and skill level.

  • You’re right on the money with regard to the traditional ‘outbound’ role of the Product Marketing Manager. The folks at pragmatic marketing break down the roles even further [here](http://www.pragmaticmarketing.com/productmarketing/survey/2003/detailactivities.asp).

    The challenge for organizations is to act smart and scale effectively with the right roles at the right time. In ‘start-up’ mode folks wear multiple hats (since you can’t afford to hire specialists). Personally, I find the diversity more rewarding in the short-term but there is a point where you need to look at specialization in the roles. Too often, project managers (and sometimes web developers) are called upon to fill the role of Product Manager as well as Product Marketing Manager. Not understanding the correct roles is often symptomatic of an organization that doesn’t have the right ‘processes’ as well which belongs to another thread.

  • Discussions like this make my skin cringe because increasingly unqualified recruiters recruit based on key words in a Dilbert like way, not competencies.

    This needs to change. In fact in many companies the hiring managers must be re-empowered so they can get the most innovative people in there who have had experience driving profitable, customer-focused change regardless of industry, job function or vertical.

    I’d urge you to migrate future discussion to this under-discussed topic that is at a crisis level.

  • David, you wrote:

    “This needs to change. In fact in many companies the hiring managers must be re-empowered so they can get the most innovative people in there who have had experience driving profitable, customer-focused change regardless of industry, job function or vertical.

    I’d urge you to migrate future discussion to this under-discussed topic that is at a crisis level. ”

    I’m sorry, but I’m not understanding your point, what are you suggesting? That I do continue to discuss this, or only discuss it carefully? or other?

  • Hey, Jeremiah,
    There’s another stepping stone along the path from great product to great customer: communications. This comes after the Product Marketing team has worked their magic. Just like Product Management and Product Marketing, in small companies the Marketing Communications role is often merged with other roles. As a company grows and can support specialization, then Product Marketing and Marketing Communications separate. Different skillsets are required for each role.

    The difference in responsibilities? Typically the Product Marketer will focus on positioning, solutions definitions, translation of product features into customer benefits, go-to-market programs, and such.

    The Marketing Communicator will turn those insights into specific messaging and programs to promote the specific product or solution. He or she will also make sure that the product/solution contributes to the aggregate reputation of the company (i.e. Brand).

    Done properly, all of the roles you mention need to have a high degree of customer advocacy. If that’s assigned to just one group, then your company’s as good as dead already.

    –djhowatt

  • DJ

    I agree, this makes sense. I can tell we’re about to talk about quite a variety of roles within a Marketing orginization. Initially, I was just responding to Rob’s clarification on Project/Product Managers, and then wanted to add PMM.

    Rob left this link in his comment above (comment #1). It has a break down of all the roles and responsiblities –even by percentages:

    http://tinyurl.com/zw3ou

  • Hi DJ,

    “Done properly, all of the roles you mention need to have a high degree of customer advocacy. If that’s assigned to just one group, then your company’s as good as dead already.”

    Good point…Customer advocacy has to be active throughout an organization for it to be effective.

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