Have you ever investigated a technology product and instantly had a good feeling for what it was? Did you understand the basics of how it works or even knew if it would be a good product for you to use?
If you have, you can thank an excellent Product Marketing Manager or PMM for their hard work.
The purpose of a product marketing manager is to reduce the questions and concerns a customer has about a product. A PMM positions the product so that the targeted customer recognizes its value.
How does a product marketing manager accomplish that?
Let’s look at exactly what a PMM does, what skills are needed to become a successful PMM and what the job outlook is on the product marketing manager career path.
Interested in becoming a product marketing manager? Be sure to check out our complete interview course designed for product marketers.
A career as a PMM is truly the sum of the three parts that make up the title. A product marketing manager is responsible for determining a product's brand, messaging, and overall position in the marketplace.
A professional in this field will have a wide variety of tasks and expectations to fill to be successful.
The key component of this position is delivering effective messaging for a product and then following the product through its lifecycle in the marketplace.
Different experience levels of PMMs will take on different roles within this greater context.
An Entry-Level Associate PMM’s duties will include assisting upper-level PMMs and teams and learning as much about the marketing process as possible.
This job will consist of helping to refine the Go-To-Market strategies and market positioning strategy. An entry-level PMM may also spending time gathering data for analysis to aid in decision-making. An Entry-Level Associate will likely also help create presentations as well as maintain datasets to assist the team.
As an associate product marketing manager, job responsibilities will include most of the Entry-Level Associate’s duties but with an added level of responsibility.
Associate PMMs will also help gather the data to be used as well as assist in the creation of competitor analysis. An Associate may also help the marketing team with prospecting, managing events or developing reports.
A mid-level Product Marketing Manager professional’s job responsibilities will likely include the Go-To-Market strategy’s creation and implementation.
The PMM will work closely with the sales team or another associate product marketing manager to lead a product towards market.
PMMs often work with cross-functional teams within marketing and customer service to analyze the product’s messaging and positioning. They may also help with general marketing campaigns around a product's release as well.
The PMM’s prime responsibility is successfully launching products as well as leading presentations showing data collection related to the product’s life cycle.
The Senior PMMs and Directors of Product Marketing are the overseers of the product marketing departments in a company. These jobs are positioned as experts in the product and field.
Management of PMMs and related teams is expected once you become a senior product marketing manager. Some companies also retain a VP of Product Marketing that oversees multiple senior marketing managers or director-level PMMs.
You'll also help others on the product marketing career path achieve their goals and grow as leaders!
Product marketing managers will need to display a competence of both product adoption and marketing tactics.
These skills come up a lot in product marketing manager interviews for both entry0level and senior product marketing manager positions.
There are three common pathways to becoming a PMM. Candidates usually come from a job with a cross-function to the PMM. That includes candidates who have graduated with an MBA or who have finished school with an Associate PMM degree.
Check out our blog post on how to break into product marketing management as well.
Many sales and marketing professionals, as well as product managers, work directly with a PMM and learn first-hand what goes into this fast-paced, competitive career.
These cross-functional peers can get a good idea of the job requirements of a product marketer. They get a chance to see if their own skills make them a good fit for marketing new products.
Sales professionals and account managers often share customer-facing skills with a PMM and are familiar with using raw data to drive decisions about products or services.
Marketing professionals are skilled in developing GTM plans and are also creatively minded.
Customer support professionals are good at looking at customer challenges and seeking solutions while also being an expert on products.
For those without the opportunity to transition from a cross-functional position into the PMM role, completion of an MBA degree is a good route to becoming a Product Marketing Manager.
Graduate business programs provide opportunities for internships in different business roles. They allow students to gain valuable experience in a variety of cross-functional roles or even in a PMM position.
Many MBA grads become data analysts before looking to transition into a PMM role.
Data analyst jobs are a great pathway to gain experience working with data, cross-functionality and developing a balance of hard and soft skills that will create strong candidates for PMM positions.
While a degree in PMM is not widely offered, many large companies have APMM programs like Google and Salesforce.
These are short, cohort-style training programs that allow participants to gain hands-on, real-world experience within the PMM career at the company.
Many APMM graduates go on to work for the company or as a PMM at another business due to the excellent training opportunities that are part of the programs.
If you enjoy working in a fast-paced, dynamic and creative environment along with a team then you might like a Product Marketing Manager career.
This up-and-coming field is becoming more competitive as businesses see the cost-benefit ratio of having a PMM to drive the launch of new products.
With the rise in customer expectations, a Product Marketing Manager’s role has become more critical so that companies can direct and guide the narrative around a product and directly respond to customer feedback and needs through consistent data evaluation.
There's nothing worse than spending months on a product you're sure will be a hit only to have it fall flat when it hits the market. Product marketing managers ensure this doesn't happen by effectively communicating the value of features and benefits to potential customers.
Picking up an iPhone for the first time feels like a familiar experience because hours of labor and love went into determining the right ways to guide a user to the features they need most.
Another reason people go into the Product Marketing Management career path is that it provides excellent exposure to all aspects of a business.
A PMM may work with the sales department, engineering and product development departments as well as senior management.
A PMM plays a pivotal role in a company’s new product launches and so the career attracts those who thrive in creative, high-energy roles.
While many PMMs are not tech product experts when they step into the role, they typically have the ability to quickly understand the products. They get an excellent feel for the market and the potential customer for the products being marketed.
According to Glassdoor, the average salary for product marketing roles is about $120,000 per year.
As you advance your product marketing career, you'll see many salary and compensation bumps. Because product marketing managers are becoming more common at tech companies too, it's likely that these salaries will continue to be competitive. Demand for the roles is only going up.
One of the unique aspects of the Product Marketing Management career is that its cross-functionality provides ample professional opportunities to transition both to and from the career, not just in other product marketing jobs.
These jobs share many similar characteristics and skillsets to a PMM and may work side-by-side with a Product Marketing Manager in many job functions.
A career in sales is similar to a PMM job since both of these are focused on understanding the product, knowing the market, having deep knowledge of competitors, and ultimately making the product launch prove successful with concrete sales. Product marketing makes for an easy transition into the sales organization.
One difference is that the PMM is responsible for developing the messaging and positioning of the product while the salesperson is only utilizing the messaging and positioning in the marketplace to drive sales.
When sales slump or products falter, the PMM is constantly working to make improvements and reposition the product. The sales professional is more focused on the sale of products or services.
A product marketing career takes on many aspects of a marketing job while a product’s GTM strategy is being developed and executed.
But a marketing professional will not continue to work with products throughout their entire life cycle in the same way that a PMM wil.
The product marketing management job has to see through the product post-launch and make adjustments to the messaging of the product throughout the whole life of the product.
A product engineer is similar to a PMM because both have a deep knowledge of the product.
While the engineer is in charge of the physical creation of products, product marketing teams must understand how the product is developed and know where and how its development contributes to the product’s message.
Product engineers and PMMs may work closely together at the development and tweaking stages of a product.
It's not unusual for product engineering to be the next step in a product marketing career path.
Both this sales support position and a PMM must have deep knowledge of the product as well as the customer’s needs and concerns as they use the product.
Both positions are constantly problem-solving solutions.
The sales support professional is primarily a customer-facing position and a PMM uses some customer feedback and data to drive GTM strategies as well as evaluate product launches.
Someone who works as an analyst must have strong data interpretation skills as well as be able to collect data, develop raw data sets and interpret data deeply for multiple reasons.
A product marketing professional also must be comfortable collecting, manipulating and interpreting data sets in order to craft the most effective product launches.
While both of these jobs similarly work with data, an analyst may be far removed from any product while the product marketing is focused on using the data specifically to drive decisions around the GTM and launch of any products they are working with.
A product manager (PM) and a product marketing manager have a lot in common but the key difference between these positions is that a PM focuses on the product itself rather than the messaging.
While both a Product Manager (PM) and a Product Marketing Manager (PMM) help with a product, their core activities and focus are very different.
A PM is involved in defining the design and features of a product to bring it to market. The PMM helps to clarify the communication about a product’s features to the customer.
The product manager works with the engineering team to characterize the what, when or why of a product, while the PMM has to communicate the what, when or why to the customer through marketing.
Anyone considering going into the field of Product Marketing Management will find that while competition is strong for positions, many more companies than ever before are now seeking out professionals to fill this role for them.
Companies are discovering that the PMM role’s dedication to a product’s messaging and context within the marketplace is becoming more and more important as the market becomes even more crowded and filled with marketing messaging.
The PMM’s job of focusing the communication and message about the product is becoming highly coveted by businesses who want to stay competitive.
A PMM will always need to be looking for ways to problem-solve, new marketing opportunities and new ways to craft the message for a product.
Those who are successful in this job will be the happiest juggling multiple tasks at any given time and not fall prey to “analysis paralysis” when the job calls for interpreting lots of data and making fast decisions.
This job is perfect for those who work well with lots of different personalities. They should be able to learn from others with different knowledge than they do in order to do their own job well.
The potential to move up within this field is strong, too, as the skills learned and honed at any company are easily transferrable within the industry. Experience is rewarded with a competitive salary as someone rises in the ranks as a Product Marketing Manager.
Hopefully, this gives you a good idea of what it takes to work in product marketing. Is it the right career for you?
If you're ready to tackle your PMM interview, we've compiled some additional resources for you.
Here at Exponent, we have helped tens of thousands of product marketers, product managers, technical product managers, and more land their dream jobs in tech.
💬 Study up on example product marketing interview questions
📖 Read through our company-specific Product Marketing interview guides
👯♂️ Practice your behavioral and product strategy skills with our interview practice tool.
👨🎓 Take our complete Product Marketing Management interview course.
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