How They’re Different And Why You Need Both
Sales & Marketing

How They’re Different And Why You Need Both

Michelle Bank is Chief Product and Marketing Officer at Nuspire.

I think it’s rare when someone sticks to the career they started with when they entered the workforce. It’s certainly not the case for me, as I’ve bounced around a bit between sales, marketing and product management. And I think it’s a good thing because it has given me perspectives and experiences that can help me navigate the nuances we see in every business.

Toward the beginning of my career, I focused on product management as a group manager for a large telecom carrier. I did that for a number of years and then found myself moved to marketing through reorganization. I found my way to flipping my lens and perspective to create the go-to-market strategy for anything new the company was developing. It also allowed me to leverage my product management experience to deliver a more cohesive and thoughtful plan for product launches.

Today, I oversee both functions, and if there’s one thing that’s been made abundantly clear, it’s that confusion still exists around these roles. There is very little defined information that really talks about the differences, and that’s compounded by the fact that every company does it a little bit differently. There are certainly synergies between product management and product marketing, which is why both of these teams report to me, but there are also differences that are important to understand to clearly delineate between the roles.

Product Management

This role involves understanding clients’ needs, the products or services necessary to address those needs and the experience that comes with it.

Product management’s goal is to understand the clients from the perspective of the client experience. No matter what you’re selling, they need to develop deep roots with what is trending in the industry. They need to do this while understanding competitors and garnering specific client feedback. Their goal is to create, evolve and enhance services or products that solve a client’s pain point.

Product Marketing

Product marketing is about understanding the product and finding ways to share its benefits with the right audience.

When you flip that to the marketing side, marketers are looking at similar things but through a different lens. Their lens is all about the positioning for and communication to a target buyer. They’re not going to be as technical as product management professionals, but they’re going to have an understanding of how best to position and communicate to the target buyer. Their main focus is really taking the service and finding the “one true thing” that resonates with the target buyer.

Product Management And Product Marketing: Yin And Yang

The product manager and product marketer are the yin and yang—or in other words, they’re different sides of the “same coin.” They need to work side by side. Product marketing employees are our communication experts, and they need to present the product in a way that communicates the right things to the right market. I’ve seen them on the same team, and I’ve seen them on separate teams. In my experience, if they’re not working closely together, flaws in the launch and product or service life cycle efforts are generally inevitable.

A true product marketer will understand and interpret true benefits, whereas a product manager will often times describe the product as a list of features. It’s about finding the right balance between the left brain and right brain. When these two teams know how to work together, it can result in great success for your organization’s goals.

Ways To Cultivate Stronger Alignment Between Product Management And Product Marketing

Ultimately, getting product management and marketing aligned is the job of the chief marketing officer (CMO) and/or chief product officer (CPO). There are a variety of actionable things you can do right now to support a more integrated approach and get everyone on the same page:

• Provide frameworks: Both product managers and product marketers should learn about frameworks. Pick one. I have used the pragmatic marketing framework in the past, which works for both product managers and product marketers. You don’t have to use that one; the idea is to pick one to get everyone on the same page about the approach. This helps to make sure you have all your bases covered and you have a common language and definitions between the two teams.

• Within the framework you choose, define responsibilities that will work for your specific organization: It’s helpful to have product marketing and product management work together on certain tasks to create shared ownership and accountability. I like to think of steps in terms of a RACI model (responsible, accountable, consulted and informed) of who does what. If you work for a smaller organization, some of the steps in the chosen framework may not be possible, or you may need to have a modified scope. You need to modify roles based on what works for your organization. I always recommend using frameworks as guidelines, not as the “hard and fast rule.” You have to start somewhere, and this way you can set up improvements and get feedback along the way.

• Communicate: Make sure the organization knows who does what and who the “others” are who need to be part of the process. Who is “consulted” as part of the RACI model, who needs to be “informed” along the way, and so on?

These elements of the approach may initially seem like arduous tasks, but at the end, they should truly speed up your launch delivery timeline and actually make you better at what you do.

Every organization has a slightly different approach to product marketing and product management. Take the opportunity to build and tie the two very needed roles together. Remove any potential friction out of the workflow and ultimately produce a stronger end product or service.


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https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2022/08/12/product-management-versus-product-marketing-how-theyre-different-and-why-you-need-both/