Product Management versus Product Marketing

I know they both have some overlaps and quite diverse roles in principle, but what about in practice for a small tech (hardware) company with about 30 employees?

Does it make sense for one individual to manage the product initiatives and marketing with a small team of two or three, while simultaneously serving as the “product lead”?

When it comes to customer insights and engineering guidance, how do product management and product marketing differ from one another?

What worries me the most is how a product marketing manager can avoid being entangled in the Mar-Com weeds.


Product marketing managers conducted client interviews, assessed product market fit, and conducted all pre-development research in one of my former companies. Product Marketing Managers would generate all the support materials and message for the product while the Product Managers were working with engineering to deploy the product. When Product Managers thought their workload was too much for them to handle, we Product Marketing Managers would take over.

I proudly do both because I can. I know plenty of PMs who say that’s not ‘pure’ product management, though. Whatever.


At 30 people, there is probably no need for a product marketer. I would advise the PM to also serve as PMM. The majority of marketing tasks are delegated by PMMs to others, just as PMs don’t write the code or create the product themselves. A PMM shouldn’t avoid the messaging because it’s their primary responsibility to do it correctly.


Very well explained. Thank you so much.


In a small tech company of around 30 people, it’s not uncommon for one person to hold both the roles of Product Lead and Marketing Manager. In fact, it can make a lot of sense for the person responsible for the product to also be responsible for marketing it.

However, it’s important to note that Product Management and Product Marketing are two distinct roles, and it can be challenging for one person to excel in both. As you mentioned, Product Management focuses on understanding customer needs, defining product requirements, and working with engineering to build the product. On the other hand, Product Marketing focuses on creating a compelling message, positioning the product in the market, and enabling the sales team to sell it effectively.

If one person is handling both roles, they need to be able to switch between the two mindsets effectively. It can be helpful to have a small team of 2 or 3 people to support them in executing marketing initiatives, such as creating marketing collateral, running campaigns, and managing social media.

To avoid getting caught up in the Mar-Com weeds, the Product Marketing Manager should focus on strategic initiatives that align with the company’s overall goals. They should work closely with the Product Lead to ensure that the product is meeting customer needs and that the messaging is consistent with the product’s value proposition. They should also collaborate with the sales team to understand customer objections and refine the messaging accordingly.

In summary, while it’s possible for one person to hold both the roles of Product Lead and Marketing Manager in a small tech company, it’s important to recognize that they are two distinct roles that require different skill sets. If one person is handling both roles, they should have a small team to support them in executing marketing initiatives, and they should focus on strategic initiatives that align with the company’s overall goals.


I’m a PM and ex PMM here, but here’s my perspective:

First, product marketing is product. In the absence of a PMM, it is usually the PM that carries out those responsibilities.

As to whether it is time to hire someone, only you can answer that. Is the PM able to handle all of their responsibilities plus the ones of the PMM? These aren’t just in relation to comms or copy, but sales enablement, lifecycle management, research and continuous market discovery. If the answer is no, then it’s time to hire someone.


@JonathanTessa, Exactly. The post reads as though a PMMs job is simplified or that a PM would also understand strategy. Most PMs do not strat. Hiring a marketer that also wears another hat is a stronger move than thinking a PM can manage both PM and PMM tasks.


I like to think of PM vs PMM this way:

  • Product Marketing owns communication from company to customer.
  • Product Management owns communication from customer to company.

what about in practice for a small tech (hardware) company with about 30 employees?
Does it make sense for one individual to manage the product initiatives and marketing with a small team of two or three, while simultaneously serving as the “product lead”?

Company size is a factor, but so is industry. At a B2C start up, I could see it making sense for PM and PMM to be the same person. But at a B2B startup, Marketing and/or Sales should be owning traditional PMM duties IMO


Awesome explanation @MichaelYoffe.

@Pankaj-Jain. that was so simple and effective way to explain. Thank you so much.


That’s generally a good description but it really is different depending on the company. For example, PMM in my organization is more about business management, managing P&L, and managing product lineup. We have marketing team that produces customer facing assets and product planning for development.


Product marketing is…marketing. Don’t see the confusion :man_shrugging:


@NaomiNwosu, Tell me you don’t understand product marketing by telling me you don’t understand product marketing.


Would love to be enlightened. Let me know if this is your understanding: PMMs create marketing strategies - means to deliver value prop, or packaging, to external potential customers to drive a sale or engagement.


@DianneStinger, in the absence of a product marketer, it is primarily the product manager who takes on those responsibilities. You cannot call a PMM “marketing” when the role otherwise responsible is product. They have both product and marketing responsibilities, yes, but they are better positioned to be part of the product team as a strategic partner. PMMs do not just create marketing strategies - they should be involved in understanding and creating product value propositions and continuous PMF research. The more you see PMMs as being marketing and not product, you do a disservice to your teams and your organization by reducing the impact they can have in success.


Good thought - and perspective. I could see that being valuable and aligned in small organizations (or someplace like Apple - which views product more as technologists and not business aligned). When you get upmarket, I have not seen the use of a PMM other than to do those you mentioned such as tasks on creating value prop, researching brand value to customers, designing GTM strategies, etc. I just don’t see that any different than a well aligned marketing professional to the product.


I disagree, primarily based on experience. Product managers have to have commercial focus, and PMMs are the bridge that helps tie to the commercial side of things. Without them being part of product, they’re just used as “hand offs” without being involved in strategic and product work. That said, there are exceptions to that rule, primarily when it comes to selling services. But as you say, in situations where it’s a product being sold, then it is better aligned with product.

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IMO, Product Management is a bunch of work and has a strategic responsibility for the product. Marketing / communication is another big field that can distract PM.

If possible, marketing should be done by another person, not necessarily a dedicated person… what about having sales + marketing together? PM should then concentrate to drive engineering.

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