Are you a Product Manager or a Product Marketing Manager?

As I am currently looking for a new job opportunity, the need to clearly define myself has come up in every networking meeting and in every interview. Who am I? Am I a Product Marketing Manager or a Product Manager? In addition, many organizations see the need for their Director of Marketing to have solid product experience.  Given I am tech savvy but not an engineer nor a developer, and I have a wide range of business experiences, I am sometimes faced with the question of whether I am a Director of Marketing.  If you have the same difficulty describing your expertise in a concise manner that resonates clearly with hiring managers, I hope this post helps.  

To bring some clarity to this dilemma, I have built a table that delineates all 3 roles. This has helped me pinpoint a little better where I fit. The first two columns come from the 280 Group and reflect how they separate the Product Manager’s and Product Marketing Manager’s responsibilities. The last column is from me. I built it by thinking about everything else a Director of Marketing needs to do to support an organization’s success. In reality, there is a lot of overlap between Product Marketing and Marketing but I tried to keep each role unique for the purpose of this exercise.

Product Manager Product Marketing Manager Director Marketing
  • Market Analysis
  • Business Case Development
  • Profit & Loss Analysis
  • Customer Research
  • Market Needs & Product Needs docs
  • Product Roadmaps
  • Working with developers/engineers
  • Reviewing functional specs
  • Finalizing requirements
  • Prioritizing features
  • Feature, Schedule & Cost Trade-Offs
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Running beta programs
  • Product Launches
  • Sales Tools
  • Positioning
  • Pricing
  • White Papers
  • Reviewer’s Guide
  • Product Demos
  • Competitive Comparisons
  • Customer Testimonials
  • Success Stories
  • Feature & Benefits/USPs
  • Press Tours & Materials
  • Presentations
  • Training Materials
  • Brand Development
  • Brand Awareness
  • Lead Generation
  • Client Acquisition
  • Client Retention
  • Promotional Activities (campaigns, ads)
  • Social Media
  • Reviews and finalizes all externally-facing communication pieces to ensure alignment to brand
  • Design and Deployment of Communication
  • Events
  • Press Releases

Has this exercise helped me? A little. However, my experience has spanned across all three roles. I have a passion for products so naturally I fit better as a Product Manager or Product Marketing Manager.  Given I am analytical, tech savvy and enjoy working with developers and engineers, I tend to lean a bit more towards Product Management than Marketing.

A caveat is that many organizations do not divide responsibilities as per my table which makes it difficult to position myself until I understand their culture and how they divide the work. The best advice is to do some research before each meeting and interview and prepare your intro in relation to their needs.

I hope this post will help those in the same situation as me.  Please don’t hesitate to comment on this delineation of roles and provide your opinion. I am looking forward to your feedback.

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