Product Marketing vs. Product Management – What REALLY Is the Difference?

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and they say something that makes all the sense in the world, but then five minutes later you can’t remember what it was? 

It’s like one of those moments where an ”A-ha!” moment happens, but it doesn’t last long enough for you to do anything about it.

Well, that’s exactly what happens to people when I try to explain to them the difference between Product Marketing and Product Management.

The conversation usually goes like this: I say something about Product Management and the person agrees, but then when I start talking about what a Product Manager does they’re all “ohhh” as if it’s new information. 

Then we move on to discussing Product Marketing and oftentimes by that time their eyes glaze over and I can tell that they just don’t get it.

It’s not their fault. 

There’s a reason why the difference between those two activities isn’t as clear as it should be:

They’re very similar in what they suggest so it’s not surprising that many companies just combine those two into one and call it a day.

And it’s easy to see why: they both require a deep understanding of the product and an ability to do market research; they must know what the market needs and fully understand user requirements…

But then, where’s the difference?

Well, to really understand the differences we have to start with the basics.

So, let’s begin with what Product Management is:

What is Product Management?

Product Management is one of the core functions within an organization that carries a lot of responsibility for a product’s overall success. Product Managers are the customer’s voice and are to understand what problems a product should solve. They own end-to-end ownership for their products, define problems and ensure their team has the right resources to deliver a product that is valuable.

What is Product Management

Product Managers focus on three main activities:

  • Understanding the market and the customer needs,
  • Managing a team of product specialists to deliver products that solve user problems,
  • Communicating with business stakeholders and the team to ensure everyone is aligned with the product direction.

Product Managers make sure that the product meets business objectives and user needs. They work closely with engineers, designers and, marketing departments to define the requirements for a product. 

They own the entire process of planning, defining and, delivering products from start to end.

A Product Manager is a mini-CEO of a product: they define and own the product strategy, while actively collaborating with a number of teams to ensure their product vision comes to life.

What is Product Marketing?

Product Marketing is the function that defines, builds, and communicates a product’s positioning, value, and go-to-market strategy. Product Marketers work with the product team to understand what a product does, who it’s for and why it’s valuable.

What is Product Marketing

They then define and implement a strategy for positioning the product in the target market that will best meet user needs, business goals, and overall objectives.

Product Marketers are also responsible for product launch and post-launch.

They define the messaging, positioning the strategy, and go-to-market activities that will help the product succeed. They also deliver different types of content to reach various audiences, which they additionally use to educate and attract prospects.

They work closely with sales, customer support, and operations to understand customer needs and be able to best position the solution in the market to meet those needs. 

Product Marketers must also understand what their competitors are doing in the marketplace, and use that insight to help position their products.

Product Marketing vs Product Management

Okay, so now that we’ve covered the basics of Product Management and Product Marketing, we can start talking about their similarities and differences.

First, let’s start with similarities.

Similarities of Product Marketing and Product Management

  • Both Product Managers and Product Marketers play a key role in the product discovery process. 

They both need to understand their users’ needs, what problems they face and what opportunities there are in the market. They both gather and analyze information to understand their audience, then use that insight to create a product vision and strategy.

  • A Product Manager and a Product Marketer also need to build a deep understanding of how their products work.

They should understand what problems it solves, what features it has and how to communicate that value.

  • They also have a very similar goal: they both want to build successful products that solve customer problems and meet business goals.

Their KPIs are different, but they both work closely with the product team to ensure their products are successful.

  • They have a lot in common when it comes to necessary skills

 Both roles require an understanding of the market, customer behavior, user psychology, and how to build products that help people be successful in their lives.

They both focus on customer needs and want to ensure that the product they’re working on is valuable.

As for the differences:

Differences of Product Marketing and Product Management

The differences between Product Managers and Product Marketers really come down to focus, responsibility and authority.

  • Product Management focuses on understanding customer needs, then using that information to define and deliver products.

A Product Manager has a deep understanding of what the market wants, who their customers are and how their product can meet those needs.

  • Product Marketing is focused on defining the product’s positioning and value to ensure that it meets target customer needs, business goals and main objectives.

Product Marketers work with the product team to define and deliver a value proposition that will resonate with the user’s needs.

They work closely with sales and support to help them understand user needs and how the product can meet those needs.

  • Product Marketing also focuses on building demand, messaging and positioning in the market to help drive adoption.
  • A Product Manager sets the vision for what is built by working closely with the product team. 

They have full authority over what is built, when it gets released and how to prioritize their backlog of work.

Product Managers are also responsible for creating and managing the roadmap, working with stakeholders to understand business needs and requirements, gathering customer feedback and making sure that everything is prioritized according to customer needs.

So in a nutshell:

Product Managers focus on the product’s entire lifecycle, from end to end. They’re responsible for delivering a successful product that solves customer problems and meets business goals.

Product Marketers’ main focus is on positioning the product in the market to meet customer needs, communicating its value and driving adoption.

While the two roles have different responsibilities, they work closely together to ensure their products are successful.

Product Marketing vs Product Management

How should they co-exist?

Although they both take on different responsibilities, they should frequently collaborate on the same projects.

By working closely together, they can ensure that the product team communicates with stakeholders, builds a deep understanding of customer needs, and delivers successful products.

Let’s take a look at some important areas where a Product Manager and Marketer should join forces:

Identify the target market

A Product Manager and Marketer need to team up when identifying the target market.

They should both be active participants in user research, talk to customers and potential users, and understand their needs and pain points.

Product pricing model

Both Product Managers and Marketers should make a joint effort to determine the pricing model for their products. While the decision is ultimately up to the business team, both Product Managers and Marketers should be equally involved in the process.

Product Managers will help to determine product value, while Marketers can provide pricing guidance based on customer research and competitor analysis.

Empowering the sales team

The launch will only be successful if the sales team is fully prepared to sell it.

Both Product Managers and Marketers should work with sales to help them understand the customer’s pain points, their needs, and how they will benefit from using the product.

Marketers will also ensure that the sales team is briefed on positioning and messaging to help them communicate the product’s value.

Roadmap planning

While it’s ultimately up to the Product Manager to determine the roadmap, Marketers provide input on market trends and competitor analysis.

Both Product Managers and Marketers should work together with stakeholders to understand their business needs and make sure the product roadmap is prioritized according to these requirements.

A transparent collaboration will help them ensure a successful launch and ongoing success.

Product positioning

Product Managers and Marketers are best positioned to advise the teams on where, how, and who to sell the product to.

Together, they can ensure the product is strategically positioned to meet customer needs and drive adoption.

Conclusion

So, there you have it – a brief description of the Product Management and Product Marketing.

To sum it all up for one last time:

  • A Product Manager is responsible for the overall vision and strategy, while:
  • A Product Marketer is responsible for defining, building and communicating a product’s positioning, value and go-to-market strategy.  

We hope this article also helped you better understand the similarities and differences between the roles of managers and marketers in these two important business areas.

More importantly, why they should jointly take an active role in building a product that meets customer needs and drives business success.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Marketing Manager above a Product Manager in rank?

No, both roles are important and their duties can be very similar.

What is the difference between Product Managers and Product Marketers?

A Product Manager is responsible for the overall vision and strategy, while a Marketer is responsible for defining, building and communicating a product’s positioning, value and go-to-market strategy. 

Alican Bektas

Alican is the Product Manager of UserGuiding, a code-free product walkthrough software that 2000+ companies trust in their user onboarding.

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