Product and service companies must cover a spectrum of essential business functions for success. These functions comprise the bulk of duties owned by the role that is called Product Marketing or Product Management. There are overlapping and interacting duties from Sales, Engineering, Business Strategy, Finance, Project Management and Marketing. All parts of the business function together. But the ownership, if not the execution, of this spectrum of functions lies with Product Marketing/Product Management.

 

Product Marketing / Management Spectrum

Is the proper job title for these functions Product Marketing or Product Management? It depends. Focus on each activity varies by company and market, and with that, the role and the title vary. In my experience the job titles correspond to a functional emphasis something like these bar graphs.

 

Product Marketing:

 

 

Product Marketing Spectrum

 

Product Management:

 

Product Management Spectrum

 

Product Marketing focuses more on the market and product direction, and Product Management focuses more on customer fulfillment and profitability management. Both titles tend to cover all or most of the spectrum, or work closely with other roles that do.

 

I have found that Product Marketing is more prevalent in companies developing system-level solutions which derive from synthesis of market analysis and collective customer expectations. The complexity of these solutions demands a business to business (B2B) and consultative selling approach which requires greater market intimacy.

 

Product Management is more prevalent at customer-driven (e.g. semi-custom and custom) product providers. Customer-driven solutions require less specific market intimacy, but more focus on price management and profitability based on product production rather than value proposition.

 

Of course, there are outliers to this structure. For example, very large organizations that tend to outsource product development and have finance organizations to cover product line profitability skew Product Marketing toward the business development, downstream marketing and marketing communications functions. Also, software as a service (SaaS) companies often support both product marketing and product management organizations, with product management focused on the user aspects (e.g. UI/UX) of product strategy and realization, with the remainder of the spectrum falling to product marketing.

 

So which is the right job title and the correct set of business functions for each title? It really does depend on who you talk to and what industry and business type you are addressing. What is important is to focus on the functions and not worry about the job title. There are few people who have the capability to cover the whole spectrum with deep expertise. Look for Product people who can meet the key functions for your business, but also look for breadth of capability. Sooner or later, your business will need to cover more of the Product Marketing/Product Management spectrum.

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