Monday, April 15, 2013

The difference between Product Marketing and Management

In the name of optimization I've seen organizations combining Product Marketing and Product Management in the same team, even in the same roles and hence the same persons. Or I've seen organizations with no market oriented PM function (yes, the really do exist) but "just" a Product Marketing function.

In most cases this will not work.

These ineffective organizations probably originates from a basic misunderstanding about the fundamental difference between the two functions.

"Classical" PM thinking (to the extent such a thing exist at all!) almost always refers to PM as a Marketing function. I tend to agree with that if it means that PM's are take their starting point in the Market. But I do not agree if it is taken to mean that Product Marketing and Product Management is the same thing.

Let me therefore try a very simple definition:

Product Marketing is about Communication. A one-way outbound function whose, very important, role it is to explain to the market and customers what the company can offer - Product Communication.

Product Management is about Dialogue. A two-way interactive function whose, equally important, role it is to gather information about the market needs as the basis for product definition and vice-versa to test products and offerings with customers - Product Creation.

Do you see the difference? It is very rare you can find one person who can equally well perform both roles (remember we're not all Steve Jobs) and combining them in the same organization simply does not scale well and creates unfortunate conflicts. Product Marketing is just one of many inputs the real PM needs to design the best possible product. but Product Marketing should be the best and most effective way of communication the final product to market and customers.

As always I encourage comments, especially based on your real-life experiences from your own companies. Let me know what you think.

Thanks to Marty Cagan for inspiration from his fabulous book: "Inspired" ... see under "must reads"

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