Product marketing and product management

In this series of articles where I write about the relationship between product management and the other areas of the company, I wrote about:

Now I want to write about the relationship between product marketing and product management.

What is the difference between product marketing and product management?

Outside the technology and software industry, it is common to find the product marketing function as one of the product management functions. That is, product management is seen as part of marketing, so much so that the term product management in Wikipedia says:

Product Management on Wikipedia

Product management is a function of a company’s organizational life cycle that deals with planning, budgeting, and disseminating a product or set of products at all stages of that product’s life cycle. This role is comprised of two roles, product development and product marketing, which are different but complementary efforts to maximize revenue, market share, and margins. The product manager is usually responsible for analyzing market conditions and defining the functionality of a product.

In the technology and software industry, especially in the digital product industry, these functions, while still closely linked, are usually separate. Product management is responsible for product definition and development, along with the UX and engineering teams, while product marketing is responsible for telling the world about this product.

Product Management

In order to define in detail the product or feature to be developed, the product manager needs to know the users of their product, their problems and needs very well. With this information in hand, she can tell in detail how it should be. With the help of an interaction designer, they can draw what it will look like, and how it will solve the problem or meet the needs of users.

One can imagine that, throughout the process of defining and building the product, many decisions will have to be made by the product manager, who is responsible for making them always think about what is best for their user, making them reach their needs and goals with that product, and also for the company that owns the product, which also has its goals. The product is a way for the company to achieve these goals, as explained in the article about what is a roadmap.

Product Marketing

In order to tell the world about the product, the product marketing person must also know its users, their problems and needs. This knowledge is critical to help the marketing manager define the content and shape of his product message.

Another important element to help define this message is the knowledge of the market where the product is inserted, ie, which competitors have similar products, and who has products that, even if not similar to yours, can replace it. What are the differences of your product in relation to these others? Why should your users choose your product, not the competitors one? These are the issues that the product marketing has to worry about.

Product Marketing and Product Management

Although the functions are quite distinct, there are many areas of contact and even much overlap. In 1960, Edmund Jerome McCarthy, a marketing professor at Michigan State University, proposed the concept of Marketing Mix, popularized by Philip Kotler, which is a set of tools used by the marketing function, with the famous 4 Ps:

  1. Product: refers to the product itself and how it solves a problem or meets a need for a set of people.
  2. Price: at what price this product will be sold. Here we are not talking only about the list price, but also promotional launch price, discount for resellers and so on. Ie, all pricing and pricing conditions for the product.
  3. Promotion: how are we going to tell the world about this product, and how it is able to solve the problem or meet the needs of a set of people. When we think about promotion, the first tool that comes to our minds is advertisement. However, there many other tools like webinars, events, and even naming. The name of the product, or feature, is a very important promotion tool, especially when we think that people search for products in search engines.
  4. Place: where this product will be made available and sold. Through web? Only through sales team? Resellers? A combination of the 3 options? Embedded in someone else’s product?

The product is clearly the responsibility of the product manager, but that does not mean that the marketing manager cannot follow the process of its development. By the way, following this process will give your product marketing many important elements to help her tell the world about it.

In some companies, the product manager is responsible for pricing, but usually, this definition, as well as the definition of pricing conditions, is the responsibility of product marketing. They should work closely with the product manager on these settings, as she has a lot of information that can help, which includes not only pricing but also whether there are more expensive or cheaper versions or even additional paid features. Knowledge of the customer and how much he values the solution to his problem, or the fulfillment of his needs, is essential for defining pricing conditions.

Defining the form and content of product communication, which also includes defining the name, is the responsibility of product marketing, as is the definition of sales channels, ie where the product will be sold: via the web, by the sales force, by sales channels, or a combination of these 3 ways.

Thus, using the 4 Ps of Marketing Mix, we could illustrate this division of responsibilities as follows:

Shared Metrics

I’ve talked a lot about metrics in many articles. All metrics discussed will be shared between the product manager and product marketer.

The product manager should have a strong focus on product usage metrics such as NPS, churn, and engagement. Marketing will focus more on revenue metrics such as CAC, LTV, revenue, and new sales. The important thing to know is that the product manager and product marketing have different focuses, but the metrics are shared. That is, product marketing must also monitor and care about engagement metrics, just as the product manager must monitor and care about revenue metrics.


As seen throughout this article, product marketing, and product management are very distinct functions, being the first responsible for defining how the product will be commercially offered and telling the world about it, while the second has a responsibility to define in detail what the product will be. Although they are quite distinct, they must work very closely together, because the work of one is the input of the work of the other (and vice versa).

As I commented throughout the book, the product *core team* is a multidisciplinary team, containing the trio of product manager roles, UX people and engineers. At Locaweb, we added a fourth element to this team: product marketers, so that they participate in the process of developing their inputs, and take some of the elements that will be useful in doing their job of communicating to the world about him. 

Upon entering ContaAzul, I realized that although there was marketing, there was no product marketing and it was easy to see the lack that this function makes in product development. Before we had people playing the role of product marketing, we intended to develop an app for the small business owner to take pictures of his tax documents and send them to his accountant to keep in the company’s accounts.

Each person I spoke to referred to this new product under a different name. File Manager, Document Manager, File Exchange were some of the names I heard. The name of a product is a communication tool that the product marketing manager has to communicate to the world about his product. A more self-explanatory name helps the customer understand the new product and can greatly improve SEO.

At Gympass we felt the same need and recently hired product marketers that sit together with product managers and help tell the world, external and internal, about new product features.

My recommendation is that you keep these roles separate — that is, having different people taking care of these two roles — but keep them working closely, as a collaboration between them is very beneficial for the product, the team that develops it, and the whole company.

Digital Product Management Books

Do you work with digital products? Do you want to know more about how to manage a digital product to increase its chances of success, solve its user’s problems and achieve the company objectives? Check out my Digital Product Management bundle with my 3 books where I share what I learned during my almost 30 years of experience in creating and managing digital products:

  • Startup Guide: How startups and established companies can create profitable digital products
  • Product Management: How to increase the chances of success of your digital product
  • Leading Product Development: The art and science of managing product teams

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