So, what’s the difference between a Product Manager (PM) and a Product Marketing Manager (PMM)? Both Product Managers and Product Marketing Managers often work very closely together and share project ownership, they generally have different sets of responsibilities that require different skill sets. In this article, we’ll highlight some of these similarities and differences.
Robin is a current Google PM and former Google PMM.
Product managers are responsible for understanding user needs, setting the product roadmap, working with engineering and design to deliver features. PMs are ultimately accountable for the product's success or failure.
Product Marketing managers' main responsibility is to communicate the product’s value to the market. Across companies and industries, PMMs pride themselves as being the "voice of the customer", and being able to understand consumer's needs and user journeys. The role is very versatile and is one of the least standardized roles in tech companies. In fact, being versatile is a trait of a successful Product Marketing Manager, similarly to Product Managers.
At Google, Product Marketing Managers are responsible for knowing the user, knowing the magic and connecting the two. Being able to demonstrate how products solve people's problems, making sure products are communicated in a user-first mentality and allowing the technology speak for itself.
PMs spend a lot of time working with various stakeholders across the company from design, engineering, sales, legal, marketing, and business development. There's the visionary element part of the job, where you identify opportunities, prioritize, sell a vision and get buy-in from stakeholders. Then you are heavily involved in writing product requirements, working with engineering and design to build the product you envisioned. Finally you work with others to build a go-to-market plan and manage the launch process, measuring the success of the product and scope out improvements based on user feedback.
PMMs also work very cross-functionally, working with PMs, design, Sales, Legal, Public Policy and business development. They often market research on current trending products and emerging user behaviors. PMMs are integral in the Go-to-market of the product, from pricing, packaging, distribution channels to training sales teams on how to communicate the product's features and benefits. Product Marketing Managers also can be responsible for developing marketing tools, campaigns and organizing events to attract new prospects and users.
Both spend a lot of time in meetings with cross-functional stakeholders, and short bouts of deep work like writing a product requirement doc as a PM or building a Go-to-market plan as a PMM.
The Product Manager is in charge of defining, the Why, What and When of the product that the engineering team will build. The Engineering team usually deals with the How. The PM defines the features and requirements to bring the desired product to market.
The Product Marketing Manager is responsible for clearly communicating the Why, What and When to the market and users. The PMM helps build the value proposition and positioning of the product. This should clearly explain the benefits of features in clear messages to the consumer. The PMM also chooses where these messages should be communicated whether it's through a presentation to a partner, a blog post, a social post or a TV commercial. They play an integral role with communicating the product to consumers and the industry.
The product life cycle
The Product Manager makes decisions throughout the product lifecycle. From identifying who the key users and pain points are to which features to build, the product manager's decisions and discussions happen well before the product is ready to launch. They also have an integral role at launch and post-launch in order to make sure their product is successfully landed.
The Product Marketing Manager typically spends more time just before the product is ready to launch and drive adoption post-launch. PMs and PMMs will work hand-in-hand just before the launch to ensure they're in sync to deliver a great product experience that lands well with both consumers and the market.
Without a strong PM, the product team is unclear about the features and requirements they need to deliver. Without an amazing PMM, sales teams, customers and the market are unclear about the value the product delivers and why it’s important.
Product Managers are expected to demonstrate creativity, user insights, strategic thinking, and prioritization of solutions / needs. These interviews are more theoretical than experiential. Interviewers want to see that, given a new or unique problem, a PM can consistently identify problems to solve, break problems down into digestible pieces, and synthesize those pieces into an executable solution. PM’s should be technical enough to understand technical challenges and have an idea about solutions, but will not be expected to execute those solutions.
PMs should expect the following interview types:
- Product Design
- Product Strategy
- Technical: General
More details on these interview types are included in Exponent's PM Interview Prep Course.
Product Marketing Managers are expected to demonstrate expertise in problem solving, user insights, product & industry expertise, campaign and program management and creative judgement. These interviews will have a mixture of experiential and theoretical components. You'll likely be asked questions about your prior experience and how you can apply that experience in different situations and what your thoughts are on a particular product or campaign. Interviewers want to see that a PMM can have a rational point of view on a product and have the ability to influence stakeholders across the business.
PMMs should expect the following interview types:
- Leadership/Cultural fit
More details on these interview types are included in Exponent's PMM Interview Prep Course.
Both should be prepared to address case scenarios in an interview context and apply their knowledge accordingly. Both should also be prepared to demonstrate success in working on teams and effective communication.
While PMs and PMMs are both responsible for a product’s success, their responsibilities and skill sets are different, and therefore the way you prepare for their interviews can be different. Both are leaders, expert communicators and strategical thinkers, but PMs are generally responsible for the product vision and PMMs for the positioning and go-to-market.
Want to learn how to ace the PMM interview? Check out our upcoming PMM interview prep course.
Read more about Product Marketing Management from our blog:
- How To Break Into Product Marketing Management
- Day In The Life: Google Product Marketing Manager
- How To Write A Great Product Marketer Resume
- How to Write a Product Marketing Manager Cover Letter
- How to Become an Associate Product Marketing Manager (APMM)
- Five Essential Skills for Product Marketing Managers