Product Marketing Manager vs Product Manager

Many people get mixed up between the roles of a Product Marketing Manager and a Product Manager, and that’s totally understandable. There’s much overlap, and the similarities can make distinctions a bit fuzzy. 

But here’s the deal: while both roles share the word “product” in their titles, their core responsibilities and goals diverge significantly.

If you plan to build your product marketing team, let’s break it down.

Product Marketing Manager (PMM) Roles

A Product Marketing Manager (PMM) focuses on marketing the product to customers, clients, and other businesses. They are responsible for understanding the product’s market, its potential customers, and how it stacks up against competitors. 

The PMM acts like a bridge between your product and its success in the marketplace. They research who your customers are, what they need, and how your product can solve their problems better.

Product positioning and messaging are the bread and butter of a PMM. 92.6% of PMMs see this as their main gig—crafting the story that positions your product as the hero in its market narrative. 

Statistics show that 88.3% of product marketers spend significant time working with the product team. This isn’t far ahead of the 84.2% who say they’re also in lockstep with the marketing team. 

A product marketing manager is responsible for:

  • Understanding the market and identifying target customers
  • Developing a distinctive product positioning and messaging
  • Creating marketing strategies to drive product demand
  • Working closely with the product team to relay customer feedback and market demands
  • Collaborating with sales teams to develop strategies for selling the product
  • Leading product launches and marketing campaigns
  • Analyzing market trends and competitors 
  • Measuring and reporting on the success of marketing campaigns and product performance
  • Educating both internal teams and external audiences about the product features and benefits

Product Manager (PM) Roles

A Product Manager (PM) is charged with guiding the success of a product and leading the cross-functional team responsible for improving it. 

Think of them as the go-to person for the product’s roadmap, who translates customer needs into features, prioritizes them, and works with engineers to turn visions into reality. 

According to McKinsey & Company, around 15% of their time is devoted to collaboration with technical and design teams. They constantly communicate with technical and customer-facing teams, ensuring the product’s features meet the high functionality, design, and reliability standards. 

A product manager has the following responsibilities:

  • Guiding the product strategy and vision
  • Defining product goals and metrics
  • Prioritizing features and product enhancements
  • Overseeing product management team
  • Leading product development with engineering teams
  • Engaging with customers for feedback and validation
  • Analyzing market trends for competitive positioning
  • Planning and managing product launches
  • Setting pricing and packaging for the product
  • Managing the product lifecycle from conception to sunset
  • Leading cross-functional teams to deliver product milestones

Important Note

With more than 60% of PMMs reporting to marketing, it highlights that their primary focus is on the go-to-market strategy and messaging of the product. However, some PMMSs report directly to the product and the CEO, indicating their involvement in broader product strategy and vision.

In contrast, PMs look inward, focusing on the product’s functionality, development, and the orchestration of teams to bring the product vision to fruition.

Key Differences Between Product Marketing Manager and Product Manager

The saying that product managers put products on the shelf and product marketers get products off the shelf is a simplified way to look at these complex roles. 

While there’s some truth to it—the essence of each role’s focus—it doesn’t fully capture the distinct responsibilities and nuances that define them. 

Here’s a comparison of their core responsibilities:

ResponsibilitiesProduct Manager (PM)Product Marketing Manager (PMM)
Vision and StrategyDefine the product vision and strategyDevelop positioning and messaging to align with the strategy
Development CollaborationLead teams in product developmentProvide market insights to inform product development
Feature PrioritizationDecide on feature sets and product enhancementsInfluence prioritisation based on market demand
Go-to-MarketOversee product launchesExecute go-to-market strategies and launch plans
User FeedbackIncorporate user feedback into product developmentTranslate user feedback into marketing and sales insights
Content CreationDefine product use casesGenerate marketing and sales content
Market AnalysisConduct market research for product fitPerform competitive analysis and track market trends
Sales EnablementSupport sales with product knowledgeEquip sales with tools, messaging, and training
Lifecycle ManagementManage the product from concept to launchAlign marketing campaigns with the product lifecycle
Performance MetricsTrack product usage and performanceMeasure the impact of marketing campaigns on sales

Goals and Objectives

Both Product Managers (PMs) and Product Marketing Managers (PMMs) share the ultimate goal of ensuring the product’s success in the market. However, their individual objectives to reach this common destination can differ based on their roles.

Shared Goals:

  • Customer Satisfaction: Ensuring that the product meets and exceeds customer expectations is a shared objective.
  • Product Adoption: They work together to increase the adoption rate of the product among the target audience.
  • Brand Consistency: Maintaining a consistent brand message across all aspects of the product and its marketing.

Product Manager Goals:

  • Deliver products aligned with market demands.
  • Stick to the roadmap timelines.
  • Lead teams to meet product development goals.
  • Innovate to keep the product competitive.

Product Marketing Manager Goals:

  • Increase product awareness and generate demand.
  • Equip sales with effective tools and information.
  • Provide actionable market and competitor insights.
  • Craft clear, differentiated product messaging.

Collaboration and Interaction

Product managers and product marketing managers are like two sides of the same coin, and they need to work in harmony to ensure the product not only reaches the market but also thrives in it.

Effective collaboration between PMs and PMMs ensures that product development is guided by customer demand and that the product’s features and capabilities inform marketing strategies. 

Examples of Collaboration:

  1. Product Development: In the early stages, PMMs provide PMs with market research data and customer feedback to help shape the product’s features.
  2. Launch Preparation: PMs and PMMs work together to craft the launch strategy. PMs ensure the product is ready and meets the quality standards, while PMMs prepare the messaging, promotional materials, and sales training.
  3. Post-Launch: PMMs gather customer feedback and performance data after the launch to help PMs prioritize future updates or developments. PMMs also use this data to refine marketing strategies and support sales.
  4. Crisis Management: If a product issue arises, PMs and PMMs must coordinate closely to manage communications. PMs work on the technical fix, while PMMs handle customer communication, ensuring that the messaging is clear and maintains customer trust.

Communication Channels

Here are the key communication channels that facilitate the exchange of information between PMs and PMMs:

  • Regular Meetings: Scheduled stand-ups, weekly sync-ups, or bi-weekly check-ins are staple practices.
  • Shared Tools: Collaboration tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Asana are used for daily communication, and platforms like Confluence or Notion are used for documentation.
  • Cross-functional Workshops: Regular workshops or brainstorming sessions can help align product features with market needs and develop joint strategies.
  • Feedback Loops: Creating structured feedback loops through customer relationship management (CRM) systems like Salesforce or product experience platforms like Pendo.

Skill Sets and Qualifications

Product Marketing Managers

A bachelor’s degree in marketing, business, or a related field is typically required to step into a product marketing manager role. Some employers may seek candidates with a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) with a firm grasp on key elements of product marketing.

Required Skills

  • Market research and analysis
  • Strategic planning and positioning
  • Messaging and storytelling
  • Go-to-market strategy development
  • Content creation skills
  • Social media marketing
  • Sales enablement 
  • Data analysis and performance metrics
  • Product launch and campaign management
  • Communication skills

Product Managers

Qualified product managers often possess an MBA or a master’s in business management and leadership, though it’s not always a prerequisite. 

Skills

  • Product strategy and vision development
  • Product roadmap planning 
  • Cross-functional team leadership
  • User experience (UX) and design 
  • Agile and Scrum methodologies
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Decision-making skills
  • Financial modeling 
  • Data-driven product development
  • Project management and organization skills

Final Thoughts

Both roles are critical, and when they work together in harmony, it’s like magic. The synergy between the market’s voice and the product’s essence is where true innovation and success lie. 

Now, if all this talk about product success has got you thinking, “How can I make sure my product hits all the right notes?” Well, that’s where Aventi product marketing agency helps startups. 

We’re here to help you fine-tune your strategy, amplify your message, and get your product off the shelf and into the hands of eager customers. So, if you’re ready to make some noise in the market, let’s chat.

Written By

Nima Chadha

Nima Chadha is a results-driven marketing executive with over ten years of experience in marketing management, business development, and strategic partnerships. With a background in sales, marketing, and project management, Nima specializes in creating and executing strategies to drive growth and revenue for B2B tech companies across North America.