What is a product marketing manager?

Daniel J. Murphy is understood for elevating SaaS startups to new ranges of success. He helped Privy turn out to be one of many fastest-growing companies in the U.S., established HubSpot’s buyer evaluate program, and grew Drift’s advertising workforce eightfold in two years.

He helped develop these corporations as a product advertising supervisor.

The product advertising supervisor (PMM) is chargeable for creating and executing the product advertising technique. It’s a significant rent for corporations competing in saturated markets—which suggests most corporations right now.

On this article, you’ll be taught the core obligations of the product advertising supervisor, plus the abilities and attributes that make a very nice PMM.

What’s the distinction? Product advertising supervisor vs. product supervisor 

Although product advertising managers and product managers work carefully collectively, they’re very distinct roles.

The product supervisor is the voice and course of a product inside a corporation. Their function is inner.

They lead the product workforce, oversee the whole product lifecycle, and decide the strategic imaginative and prescient for product improvement.

They’re chargeable for:

  • Defining the “why,” “what,” and “when” of product improvement;
  • Working with the engineering workforce to ship on the “the right way to use it” side;
  • Figuring out the long-term product imaginative and prescient;
  • Setting targets and initiatives to attain that imaginative and prescient;
  • Working with the advertising workforce (typically the product advertising supervisor) to grasp consumer wants.

The product advertising supervisor, alternatively, voices the advantages of the product to the surface world. 

They lead a workforce of product entrepreneurs, set up a go-to-market technique, conduct buyer analysis, and outline messaging and positioning for the product.

The product advertising supervisor job description entails:

  • Speaking the “why,” “what,” and “when” of the product to potential consumers, in addition to to inner groups (typically the gross sales workforce);
  • Launching the product;
  • Asserting new product options;
  • Increasing attain and figuring out new audiences;
  • Creating product positioning and messaging that resonates with the model’s audience.

Whereas each are targeted closely on the consumer, the product supervisor is extra excited by understanding what customers wish to obtain when utilizing the product.

The product advertising supervisor is extra excited by understanding the client traits of the consumer and discovering the right way to talk the worth of the product with the intention to convert them.

The 2 roles work carefully collectively, because the insights gleaned throughout their respective analysis processes are invaluable throughout each disciplines.

For instance, a product advertising supervisor may uncover buyer insights that pivot the product workforce’s course.

Equally, the product supervisor might considerably change options that can require the advertising workforce to tweak or pivot their message.

The path to turning into a product advertising supervisor can begin from many different roles, corresponding to gross sales, advertising, or product improvement. Alongside the way in which, a PMM might want to decide up key expertise in technique, messaging, market analysis, and extra.

Carving out a profession as a product advertising supervisor 

Product advertising is a self-discipline that seeks to speak the “why,” “what,” and “when” of a product’s options to potential clients in addition to inner stakeholders (corresponding to salespeople and builders).

The “why” solutions the shopper’s query: “Why ought to I care about these product options?”

The “what” solutions: “What options are a very powerful to me?” and “What do I wish to obtain when utilizing the product?”

The “when” solutions: “When do I would like these options?” 

The product advertising function sits on the intersection of selling, gross sales, and product groups and focuses totally on anticipating and answering buyer questions and objections.

The place the model marketer solutions the objection “Why ought to I purchase out of your group?”, the product marketer caters to the query: “Why ought to I select your product?”

Whereas product advertising is without doubt one of the most important advertising features, it’s additionally one of many least understood, which means product advertising can look vastly totally different throughout totally different organizations.

Throughout the board, although, product advertising’s essential focus areas are: 

Throughout the workforce of product entrepreneurs, the PMM owns the whole technique, delegates duties and sources, hires and organizes the workforce construction, and is finally chargeable for the success of the group’s product advertising efforts.

Duties of the profitable product advertising supervisor 

Product advertising managers are chargeable for positioning and messaging throughout the product lifecycle.

This may be divided into three core segments, approximating the phases of the advertising funnel:

  1. Acquisition;
  2. Engagement;
  3. Conversion and Retention.

Acquisition: Seize buyer consideration

Acquisition efforts heart on gaining the eye of potential clients, making the market conscious that your product exists.

Widespread techniques embrace blogs and long-form content material, search engine marketing, PPC promoting, and social media advertising methods.

Product advertising managers engaged on acquisition ought to give attention to understanding what captures buyer consideration.

ClickUp’s product advertising workforce may need found that social proof is a key driver for conversions amongst their audience of agile builders. 

They used their advert copy area to incorporate massive model names. By doing so, they borrow the large manufacturers’ affect in an effort to influence customers to enroll in their free trial. 

Engagement: Develop an viewers of advocates

Engagement efforts give attention to growing a neighborhood of superfans.

Actions embrace in-person and digital occasions, particular gives, electronic mail advertising campaigns, social media group engagement, and the creation and distribution of mid-funnel content material.

CXL generates engagement from entrepreneurs excited by CRO, analytics, and development by posting industry-specific questions on social media:

CXL creates model consciousness and loyalty by asking thought-provoking questions and getting concerned within the feedback with experience and opinion. Manufacturers that have interaction with their clients build trust by reinforcing their reputation and being accessible.

Conversion and Retention: Encourage a buying determination

Conversion and retention efforts are targeted on turning leads into paying clients and protecting paying clients round.

Conversion techniques ought to give attention to lowering friction.

Take Cozy Earth, retailer of premium bamboo bedding. Having carried out intensive buyer analysis to grasp prospects’ essential shopping for objections, they got here to grasp that worth is a barrier to buy.

Cozy Earth removes the friction from this determination by offering a 100-night trial, the place clients can return their buy inside 100 days in the event that they’re unconvinced the product is true for them.

Apart from product advertising duties, product advertising managers additionally undertake a wide range of administration and management duties.

Defining each long- and short-term visions 

Product advertising managers are chargeable for growing a advertising workforce’s long-term imaginative and prescient, defining targets, key metrics, and techniques used to attain these aims.

They’ll work carefully with the product supervisor to grasp the longer term and course of latest product developments and tailor their advertising technique to its evolution.

This side of the PMM’s job description is pretty research-heavy. 

It entails defining:

  • The goal buyer. What are the first buyer wants? What challenges do they face? The place can they be discovered? How do they use our product? 
  • Product naming. Based mostly on an understanding of the audience, and sometimes developed utilizing focus group analysis.
  • Product positioning. What class does the product fall into? Who’s the product for? What advantages does the product supply, and the way do they contribute to buyer success?

The PMM can be chargeable for clearly speaking their product advertising technique motivations to their product advertising workforce. 

The perfect approach to do that is to contain your workforce in constructing the imaginative and prescient itself. When everybody in your workforce has contributed to the product advertising technique, and owns particular duties (e.g., social media analysis, framing messaging, and so on.), they’re extra dedicated to the purpose you’ve outlined.

Constructing a profitable workforce 

A big side of the product advertising supervisor function is constructing and main a workforce that you simply belief to ship on the bigger mission.

A simple mistake to make is to search for entrepreneurs who’re identical to you, with the entire skillsets and attributes you carry to the desk. 

Nice PMMs take the alternative strategy. Search for gaps in your personal skillset after which fill these gaps with complementary hires with strengths in different disciplines.

Contemplate this record of expertise and attributes which can be essential to product advertising success:

Carry out an trustworthy evaluation of your self as a marketer, and rank your skill in every self-discipline.

The areas the place you’re not so robust inform you the place you need to rent first.

Staff constructing, motivation, and battle administration 

Main your product advertising workforce to success entails individuals administration, workforce motivation, and battle decision expertise.

New leaders ought to think about Harvard’s 6 styles of leadership, to grasp which persona they most strongly embody.

Holding your workforce motivated can be an ongoing problem and would require cautious consideration to particular person drivers.

Motivation isn’t cheerleading. It isn’t a five-minute stand-up every morning the place you give an inspiring speech to rev up the workforce.

Staff motivation means connecting with the people in your workforce on a private degree and understanding their bigger targets outdoors of fulfilling their duties (e.g., who desires to be a PMM sooner or later, and how will you assist that?). 

Private improvement is usually a highly effective motivator. In accordance with a Gallup workplace study, improvement alternatives are a high employment issue for Millennials.

Deal with particular person strengths, and supply alternatives to develop these expertise to their maximal potential.

Battle is inevitable within the office, significantly as groups develop bigger and extra various opinions enter the group.

Some battle may be constructive, if dealt with effectively. Workers ought to be inspired to debate various viewpoints and options, supplied the dialogue intends to determine the best resolution fairly than to levy a private assault.

Even with this expectation in place, high quality conversations can deteriorate. The product market supervisor’s duty is to defuse and resolve such conflicts.

The Society for Human Useful resource Administration has quite a few great resources for understanding how to manage conflict in the workplace.

Advertising and marketing supervisor or particular person contributor? 

For a lot of, the step up from product advertising to advertising administration appears to be the logical profession development, however these are very totally different roles.

Working as a advertising supervisor is far more about constructing and growing a workforce and guiding them to execute on methods, fairly than specializing in particular techniques and execution itself.

Because of this, many select to stay particular person contributors.

Your determination to maneuver right into a administration function shouldn’t be primarily based on the sensation that you need to maintain climbing the profession ladder.

The product advertising supervisor wage may be engaging (an average of $112k per year in the U.S.), however your determination ought to be primarily based extra on a need for private development and improvement.

Contemplate your strengths and what you need your function to seem like when weighing up whether or not or to not tackle product advertising supervisor obligations.

Some attributes to contemplate:

  • Your willingness to surrender doing the work your self and belief others to finish it;
  • Your inclination in direction of different individuals;
  • Your skill to give attention to long-term targets;
  • Your need to hunt out and develop peoples’ distinctive strengths.

Many nice leaders have been introverts (Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, Gandhi), and also you’ll be taught battle decision expertise alongside the way in which as a part of your personal improvement.

Nice product advertising managers put on many hats

PMMs can take merchandise from innovation to scale. As a result of they’re concerned at each stage, they have to be nice at a whole lot of expertise—and know when to pivot.

Listed below are a number of the high traits for profitable PMMs. 

Be captivated with, use, and perceive your merchandise 

The most effective product advertising examples exist when PMMs use their merchandise recurrently and have a deep understanding of all options and makes use of.

As a consumer, you’ll perceive the worth your product brings, and could have a greater perception into the right way to talk these advantages to different customers.

You can even spot alternatives for enchancment and feed them again to the product workforce.

Be the voice of your buyer

Discuss to your clients typically. Make them really feel such as you’re listening to their suggestions, and search to grasp the motivations behind what they’re saying.

Watch and interpret their actions. How do they use your product? How do they speak about it in public? What questions are they asking in assist logs, or in social media communities?

Take this dialogue about Clearscope and Semrush. Product entrepreneurs from each platforms can acquire a ton of insights from chat between customers like this.

Community conversation about a product

The extra you actively hearken to and interact along with your customers, the higher you’ll perceive how they’ll react to product updates and the right way to talk with new markets. You can even feed insights gathered right here again to the product workforce.

Determine who your greatest influencers are, and interact with them straight. Maintain them glad, and also you’ll be capable of leverage their affect amongst others.

Keep watch over your opponents 

Your product doesn’t exist in a vacuum; potential clients are evaluating all potential choices. Present customers additionally possible have an eye fixed available on the market and may be persuaded to leap ship.

Watch how your opponents are advertising their merchandise, and the way their viewers reacts to their messaging. Use their merchandise and determine areas the place they outperform your product. 

Use model monitoring instruments to trace shopper sentiment and market modifications. Figuring out the worth their product brings (and the way this compares to yours), in addition to understanding their advertising methods, will will let you higher place your product and determine new angles.

Don’t try to market to everybody 

Your purpose ought to be to develop a neighborhood of superfans—customers who’re profoundly influenced by your product—not simply to draw extra shoppers of any form.

Analysis and perceive the markets and demographics your product is finest designed for, and place your product messaging to talk on to them.

If you happen to try to market to everybody, those that convert will possible turn out to be disenchanted when the product isn’t precisely what they needed.

Be ready to react quick when issues go incorrect

Be agile and react rapidly when one thing goes incorrect with a product launch.

Daniel J. Murphy, the professional PMM to start with of this text, lists 4 errors he typically sees product entrepreneurs make in a product launch:

“1) Ready for one thing new from the product workforce to launch vs. designing a launch round a strategic firm purpose 

2) Going to market with messaging that matches what the product workforce gave them vs. arising with messaging to your goal buyer

3) Making an attempt to do too many issues (emails, content material, channels, and so on.) within the launch vs. specializing in the few issues that can get you to your launch purpose

4) Not setting an attainable short-term launch purpose after which delivering on a superb launch however not with the ability to clarify the success of it to your administration workforce.” [Via Sharebird]

Work to rapidly discover the reason for damaging response, and tackle it straight by speaking with clients. Feed data again to the product workforce and launch product updates as quickly as potential.

Get artistic along with your advertising

Job dangers. Attempt new issues. Belief your hunches.

The most effective product advertising managers incorporate a development advertising strategy, designing experiments, analyzing outcomes, doubling down on what labored, and persevering with to experiment.

Perceive the opportune second for a product launch

New merchandise don’t need to be excellent, final-form iterations to be prepared for launch.

If you happen to proceed chasing down “excellent,” you may by no means launch in any respect.

Perceive what your minimal viable product seems to be like, design a brand new product launch advertising plan, and launch.

Construct time into your schedule to assist the product workforce make changes primarily based on buyer suggestions, and let your consumer base information the product roadmap.

Reassess product efficiency regularly

Don’t neglect merchandise you’ve already launched, even when your workforce focuses on growing new, thrilling merchandise.

Recurrently reassess your complete product vary and the way every product is performing. What metrics have dropped? What modifications have occurred in that vertical since launch? Is your product nonetheless a lovely proposition?

Contemplate retiring weaker merchandise as your vary grows, protecting your product line robust and your general model proposition constructive.

Meet typically with product stakeholders

Nice product advertising managers meet recurrently with firm stakeholders, from the ideation section proper via to launch and post-launch.

They work with stakeholders throughout all departments and acknowledge that every can present invaluable insights.

Gross sales workforce members can talk frequent buyer ache factors and probably the most influential promoting factors. 

The customer support workforce can present insights into areas the place the product doesn’t carry out as effectively. 

Product builders can clarify technical limitations (or areas the place your product performs higher than opponents).

Market internally

Highly effective product advertising managers don’t simply market to clients; they market internally to the corporate’s workers.

Get workers excited in regards to the merchandise they’re promoting, supporting, or engaged on. Make them really feel like they’re a part of the mission. Get them to really perceive the issues your clients face, and the way your product transforms their day by day lives by fixing that drawback.


Product advertising administration is a self-discipline the place you may thrive for those who’re captivated with constructing a workforce of profitable entrepreneurs and proudly owning a product’s positioning and messaging from begin to end.

The place requires a good diploma of individuals administration expertise and management capabilities. Some want to stay particular person contributors and give attention to growing their product advertising expertise over management talents.

Whichever course you select, probably the most highly effective solution to drive your profession ahead is to consistently upskill.
To be taught extra about product advertising administration and follow from main practitioners, take CXL’s Product Advertising and marketing Minidegree.

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