What is a product marketing manager?
Before we delve into the intricacies, let’s take it back a step. Yep, that’s right, we’re going back to the very beginning. Before you get to grips with the key skills that every product marketing manager (PMM) needs, you first must understand what a PMM is; what their roles entail, the difference between a product manager (PM) and a PMM, and more.
What is a product marketing manager?
What do product marketing managers do?
Product marketing managers are responsible for:
- Positioning and messaging
- Competitive intelligence
- Market research
- Supporting sales with value propositions
- Demand-gen marketing campaigns
- Voice of the customer
Product manager vs. product marketing manager
There’s often a misconception that a product manager is the same as a product marketing manager.
The calculated product manager maps the path ahead by starlight while the savvy product marketer ensures the customer's voice rings out by daylight. Though cut from the same cloth, subtle differences set their worlds apart. The product manager focuses inward, overseeing roadmaps and evaluating profitability with a meticulous eye.
The product marketer reaches out, building buzz and driving adoption with magnetic messaging, a gregarious advocate. The PM analyzes meticulously, while the product marketer evangelizes creatively, and their skills combine and complement in a push and pull motion that, united by the customer, steers success.
Qualifications for product marketing managers
To perform as a product marketing manager, it’s pivotal that you understand the intricacies of the product marketing role and develop your skills.
You don’t have to have an MBA or have gone through as much formal education as possible (though, if you have already, it won’t hurt) – you can enroll yourself in courses, attend relevant events, and become a member of a prestigious product marketing community.
Actively enhancing your education and personal development in this way will enable you to build on your knowledge, refine your understanding of key principles, and improve your performance.
PMM career expectations
Product marketing is an area that’s growing in popularity within the job market; there are more people harboring ambitions of transitioning into the profession and beginning their journey as a PMM.
But what’s in store for them when they begin, and what can they expect?
To break it down into its simplest form, a career in product marketing promises variety and challenge, with no two days the same. Expect to wear many hats, collaborating cross-functionally to position products, craft messaging, enable sales, and drive adoption.
The pace is fast, priorities shift quickly, and creativity is a must to solve complex problems. It's a career for big-picture strategists who thrive on juggling multiple stakeholders. Success demands flexibility, organization, and communication skills.
The reward is bringing products to market that deliver real value. It's a career for those seeking diversity of experience and the excitement of launching innovations.
How can a product marketing manager stand out?
Selling your skills is an important part of being a successful product marketing manager. After all, what good is it having an array of qualities, if you can’t show them off?
To shine as a PMM, lean into your innate creativity. Seek fresh perspectives, draw inspiration from unlikely sources, and apply an inventive lens. Bring bold ideas to the table, even if they ruffle feathers. Let your message ring with authenticity and heart.
Communication is key. To be a successful product marketing manager, connecting on a human level is essential, be it chatting with customers or rallying stakeholders. And, of course, immerse yourself in the product – to surprise and delight in every initiative, and stand out by daring to color outside the lines.
Get a deeper insight into how to sell your product marketing skills with Abby Barsky, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Cord.
Account management vs. product marketing skills from the mind of Mark Assini
Mark Assini, Product Marketing Manager at Jobber and host of PMA’s podcast, Product Marketing Life, offered his insights into three skills an account manager should leverage to become a product marketing manager:
Skill 1: Translating client problems into marketing solutions
I’m sure many account managers have experienced being approached (sometimes frantically) by their client with an urgent, and oftentimes vague, request for support with a time-sensitive project. The client has been asked by their boss to accomplish a specific goal or reach a specific metric, but with little direction as to how other than to go to the agency partner for help.
When confronted with this problem as an account manager, it’s often your job to contextualize that problem, understand it, work with internal creatives to conceptualize a solution, and then ‘chunk’ that solution into tangible deliverables with the help of your Project Managers and creative team.
As a product marketing manager, you’re often asked to do the exact same thing, your customers, and not your clients, often come to you with vague problems that they want you to help solve.
Sometimes you have to do a lot of digging to uncover those problems, as customers aren’t always fully aware or able to communicate the problem effectively, but one way or another it becomes your job to help solve those problems.
Next, assisted by input from customers (both existing and potential), market research, input from sales, and competitive intelligence, you work with the product team to conceptualize a solution.
Product managers, working closely with you, will chunk that solution into various projects and iterations that will eventually turn into a tangible solution in the form of a new feature or service.
The contextualize, understand, conceptualize, chunk, and deliver process may appear on its surface to be vastly different depending on whether you’re an account manager or a product marketing manager, but fundamentally, it’s the same.
Skill 2: Communicating with empathy and clarity
During my time as an account manager, I often chatted with clients about the professional and personal impact of the problems the agency was helping them to solve.
Whether the client was an independent business owner, whose livelihood depended on the success of their business, or they were an employee of a larger organization, those problems impacted them in a variety of ways. Some felt the pressure of solving a problem they’d been assigned by their manager, while others spoke with excitement about the value the solution to their problem would bring.
After sharing those feelings, these clients expected a clear and concise solution or way forward.
A good account manager makes their client’s problems (or opportunities) their own, and the best way to demonstrate that shared ownership is through empathy. It’s vital that account managers put themselves in the shoes of their clients, or their client’s customers, to fully understand the problem or opportunity they’re facing. It’s arguably even more crucial to show them that you care and understand as much as they do.
Demonstrating this care tells the client that you get it, that you’re there to help because you know how they feel, and that you’re the best person to help, because of that shared understanding.
Equally important for an account manager is to then share and communicate your recommended solution clearly and concisely – clients, and more importantly, their customers, don’t have time for fluff.
They want to know what you plan on doing, how you plan on doing it, and why it’s the right course of action – in as few words and in the shortest amount of time possible.
They’re busy people, and any time wasted getting from problem to solution is wasting billable hours, which, for the account manager and the agency may feel like a monetary win, but in the long term, it often has a detrimental impact on the agency-client relationship.
Skill 3: Juggling multiple clients and their numerous projects
This last skill is a bit of a no-brainer, but it’s surprising to me how few account managers use it to their benefit when applying to new roles.
Everyone says in an interview that they’re a multi-tasker, or can do two things at once, but few roles can demonstrate and back up this skill better than an account manager.
As an account manager, you’ve probably got a roster of clients across a variety of industries, each ranging in size (both in terms of headcount and sales).
Each of these clients serves a vast array, and vastly different, sets of customers, all of which are targeted and sold to, again, very differently. Each client will have their own unique set of needs, specific to their organization and their style of work, which means across clients it’s unlikely that two projects will ever be the same.
The end deliverable might be similar, but the creation, management, and execution of any project are rarely identical. A great account manager is an expert at not only juggling clients and their respective projects but also at prioritization and over-delivering.
As a product marketing manager, you’re at the center of it all – you collaborate and support the marketing, product, sales, and support teams.
More importantly, you ultimately support your customers. If you consider all of these people to be your clients, everything I’ve said about being an account manager is applicable.
The internal teams a PMM supports ultimately serve the same customer, but the teams have their own needs and ways of doing things that are specific to their own unique relationship with those customers.
As a result, depending on the time of year, initiative, or goals, those teams will have a variety of projects that a PMM would either be leading or working on. Ensuring your internal teams, and their customers, are happy by staying on top of those projects is the mark of a true product marketing manager.
Bonus: Account manager responsibilities that are similar to product marketing manager responsibilities
When I was making the jump from account manager to product marketing manager, I was surprised by how closely some of the projects I’d worked on as an account manager resembled the types of responsibilities and projects I’d be working on as a PMM.
As a bonus, I’ll list some of those below, some aren’t a one-to-one comparison but are related enough that you could reference them in an interview.
In some instances, the work you might do as an account manager is exactly the type of work you’d be expected to do as a product marketing manager, for example:
- Market research
- Positioning and messaging
- Developing marketing and communications plans
- Market segmentation
That’s just naming a few.
With these three skills and this bonus list, you should be in good shape to start preparing for your first PMM interview.
Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty.
23 skills required to be a product marketing manager
There’s so much that product marketers must juggle within their day-to-day responsibilities, including competitive intelligence, project management, customer and market research, and sales enablement, to name a few.
With product marketing continuing to evolve and develop into such a multi-faceted industry, there are an array of industry-specific skills PMMs need to master to reach the peak of their powers.
We reached out to the product marketing community to see what skills they thought were essential for every product marketer to have.
Based on all this feedback, we refined the list to 23 of the most important skills that PMMs should be honing to make it into the big leagues.
NB: Some job titles may have changed since these quotes were provided.
As a PMM, championing the customer at every turn is essential. Essential. Truly immersing yourself in the customer experience lends vision and validity to your work. Make time for both quantitative and qualitative insights – surveys and statistics as well as real conversations. Let the customer's voice ring in every meeting, every document, and every launch plan.
Be their advocate, even when it means pushing back internally. Understand their pain points profoundly so your solution fits like a glove. After all, customer obsession fuels innovation. It unlocks creativity in messaging and product enhancements, develops connections between stakeholders, and leads any product to success.
“I've always been a 'product person' and I thrive on unlocking previously untapped opportunities for consumers through a product offering, like helping our users understand how they can listen to Spotify in their car, or how to listen to their favorite playlist in the background while playing the latest console game.
“For me, a good product marketer understands, and puts the customer at the forefront of everything they do, and then works meticulously to help unlock those opportunities.”
Rupert Englander, Global Consumer Product Marketing Lead - Platform and Partner Experiences at Spotify
Become zealously consumed with understanding every facet of your product (and your customer). Why? Because a keen product orientation propels a product marketer. To prosper as a PMM, you need to immerse yourself in the intricacies of a product, probing its potential with intense curiosity.
“We need people who can deeply understand these products because, for all intents and purposes, they are the subject matter expert internally for the marketing and the sales organizations.
“So, they need to be intensely curious, they need to be able to break down this product, and they need to be able to articulate it concisely to peers and customers. So strong product orientation and curiosity is a must.”
Francis Larkin, VP of Product Marketing at Clockwise
Maintain your finger on the pulse of product roadmaps, staying tapped into future developments. But it’s not just about what’s in front of you, take the time to absorb market insights to unlock new perspectives that have the potential to inspire. Brainstorm enhancements and propose killer features that will delight. As we know, creating compelling messaging and creative go-to-market strategies is essential as a PMM, so convey your story with a contagious enthusiasm to instill passion in both customers and stakeholders.
A product marketing manager revels in unraveling data, enthralled by insights waiting to be unearthed. We live in a digitized world, so the data’s there at your fingertips – surveys? Usage metrics? Win/loss data? Engagement analytics? It’s all there, ready for you to mine every quantitative source and use it to monitor and improve your strategies.
“PMMs need the ability to make hypotheses and run experiments at scale with an optimized framework for priority across the user journey. Testing, iterating, and repeating (answering from a more hands-on day-to-day execution).”
Malav Warke, Founder and CEO at Creatosaurus
Your data will be even more effective if you complement it with qualitative cues from sales calls, support tickets, and customer conversations. With all of this information in hand, you can synthesize key findings that locate market gaps, validate hypotheses, and sharpen positioning.
“A mix of both hard skills and soft skills is required to be an effective product marketer.
"Unlike engineering, or roles that require logical and analytical thinking entirely, product marketing requires both analytical and logical thinking as well as emotional and intuitive intelligence."
Yasmeen Turayhi, Founder of Modern Product and Product Marketing Consultant and Advisor
A product marketing manager must be a masterful storyteller, adept at crafting compelling narratives. It’s every PMM’s dream to create captivating stories that compel belief. You must be able to take complex product capabilities and weave them into intuitive, compelling narratives. Rather than just listing dry features, bring technical details to life through plot and relatable characters.
Craft a story arc that builds tension, momentum, and desire toward resolving the customer's core conflict. Let this consistent narrative thread throughout your campaigns, collateral, and launches.
With passion and imaginative flair, you can transport stakeholders and customers into a visionary world made better by your product. Storytelling allows you to form an emotional bond and rally teams around a shared purpose. When you can conjure up transportive tales full of magic and meaning, you capture attention in a crowded marketplace.
“Product marketing is about telling stories that connect the technical value of a product or service to the desire to use it. A good product marketer helps drive this narrative through content creation, digital campaigns, sales enablement, and launches."
Holly Watson, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Amazon Web Services
“A good product marketer is empathetic. They’re able to put themselves in the shoes of someone else and see the product through their eyes.”
Phill Agnew, Senior Product Marketer at Hotjar
The key to being an empathetic product marketing manager is viewing the world through the customer's eyes. Only by walking in their shoes can you design a specific narrative, shifting from what you, personally, want to convey to what they want to hear, i.e. what will address, understand, and solve their pain points.
“The best product marketers are people who have deep customer empathy - once you know the deepest fears, passions, and concerns of your customer, you're able to do anything!”
Madison Leonard, Product Marketing Lead at ClickUp
Of course, that’s easier said than done. How can you truly get into the minds of your customers? Well, aside from getting Consumer Psychology Certified, be mindful when conducting your research; listen intently, with curiosity, not judgment, to uncover unspoken needs. Your customers’ perspectives are an integral factor in your role as a PMM.
When you lead with compassion, you capture hearts as well as minds, and that’s what we all strive for, right? An empathetic orientation builds bonds of trust and community that unlock lasting business growth.
A product marketing manager thrives on synergizing cross-functional perspectives, compelled to weave together disparate viewpoints into a symphony. You live in a world of specialists, so immerse yourself in each expertise – engineering, sales, support, design? It's all there, don’t hesitate to tap every resource and unearth insights (and share yours, too!).
“The job of a product marketer is like sitting in the center of the universe. [...] You can influence each stage of the customer journey because the customer lifecycle is intrinsically tied to whether (and how) they use your product.
“This means you have the potential to create strategies that power the growth of your entire organization. [...] You’re the first to know about new products, inform sales and customers, and you can partner with many cross-functional teams.”
Jennifer Bunting, Head of Product Marketing for EMEA & LATAM at LinkedIn
Each lens within an organization will see the customer journey and product experience in a different way. Every perspective is valid and will hold distinct values that can be utilized to optimize both product and customer experience. So be sure to listen intently, advocate for the big picture, create alignment by understanding, and let cross-functional orientation guide your strategies, from positioning to product enhancements.
When you orchestrate with care, you create harmonies, not just noise. A multi-threaded approach builds bonds of trust and propels growth. You can harness this by nurturing openness and encouraging diverse vantage points that swell and combine into a shared vision that transforms obstacles into opportunities.
“A good product marketer will be able to work well with any team within an organization – the role spans from product to delivery/customer success and understanding that your role as a product marketer is a keystone role will serve all product marketers well."
Melis Carroll, Vice President of Product Marketing at Majesco
Coordinating competing interests is such a vital skill for product marketing managers. We're constantly needing to weave together those diverse perspectives – what customers want, what the product can deliver, and what goals executives have set.
The key is immersing yourself in each viewpoint, whether that's hearing from users, engineers, or the C-suite.
“[PMMs] should be passionate about their customers and advocate for them, but some product marketers enjoy going deep on products, while others prefer to focus more on supporting sales and distribution. Neither is right nor wrong. So, identify your passion and go for it.
“Whichever path you take, the most important thing is to make sure you can always put yourself in the shoes of today’s customers and sellers, and be able to visualize and/or orchestrate the experience and journeys you want them to have. And then, of course, be able to tell a great story.”
Tiffany Tooley, Head of Product Marketing at HubSpot
Listen closely to uncover how they each spoke within the organizational wheel defines and envisions success. Then comes the real finesse – advocating for the best path forward. This often means gently challenging assumptions that have become entrenched in certain groups; enlightening different stakeholders as well as assimilating their expertise.
Crafting compelling communication is such a vital skill for product marketing managers, who’re constantly conveying complex ideas and key data points to diverse audiences – from customers to executives and beyond.
The key is understanding each audience and their needs and listening closely to uncover how they consume information and what resonates. Then comes the real finesse – translating concepts into intuitive narratives. This often means moving beyond facts to forge an emotional connection.
“I believe a good product marketer has the ability to understand the complexities of the product and the complexities of the market and customers and translate it to a language everyone understands.
“It's imperative that this person has great communication skills to be able to take a product and help people buy it with the best possible experience.”
Felipe Cardoso Barbosa, Product Marketing Manager at VTEX
It’s about engaging different groups and communicating with care to create clarity and a shared vision. This spirit of strategic communication should guide all your messaging and campaigns. It’s a powerful tool that should be harnessed to the fullest extent (if you want to get ahead, of course!).
“Product marketing’s central to the success of any tech company. It's truly the 'hub of the wheel' connecting many teams like sales, customer success, community, product, and other marketing functions.
“A good product marketer understands this position within the company and can speak the different languages of the many stakeholders required to successfully drive feature positioning and adoption. It’s a multidimensional role that requires a lot of context-shifting and information management.
“These are also the reasons why I love product marketing and think it plays such a vital role in any tech organization's success.”
Sean Lauer, Head of Product Marketing at MURAL
Skillful communication allows teams and functions to cement mutual understanding, propelling comprehension and action. By seeking to inform and inspire different audiences, you transform complex concepts into compelling calls to action.
“‘I got your back.’ How many jobs get to say that about their customers, sales teams, marketing teams, and product teams? I love product marketing because it makes all four worlds better.
“Each group needs the other to be successful, and product marketing ties them all together. That's the magic of a true partnership.
“Good product marketers understand each group's needs. Awesome product marketers understand their needs, bring them together, and help them solve the problem as a team.”
Alyce Erikson, APAC Product Marketing Lead for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions
As the saying goes, teamwork makes the dream work! And we would certainly agree. Fostering teamwork and collaboration as a PMM is essential – organizations, in general, are rarely a one-person job, they require cross-functional alignment, that encompasses teams stretching far and wide – sales, marketing, engineering, design, you get the gist.
“In essence, product marketing is a central nervous system of companies. So, interaction with everybody is equally important.
“I think product marketing is kind of an aggregator in many ways. You're aggregating what's going on from the product side of the world.
“For example, you’re helping enable the sales teams by doing the sales enablement, talking to customer experience and understanding what's going on with customer experience, what's going on with the consumers and customers, whether it's a B2B buyer, or whether it's a B2C buyer, what are they really giving the feedback on?
“So every different department is important in this case.”
Su Simha, Chief Marketing Officer at Morressier
The real talent comes from facilitating synergies between different groups. This can mean moving beyond siloed thinking, building trust and rapport, engaging teams, and collaborating seamlessly to provide for the customer.
This spirit of strategic partnership should guide all your initiatives and campaigns. It cements bonds across teams and functions, propelling unified success. By seeking to inform and involve different groups, you transform departmental goals into enterprise-wide wins.
Curiosity is an endearing quality in a person. And for PMMs, it’s an essential skill. You should be curious about your role, your internal stakeholders and, of course, the needs, wants, and pain points of the customer.
“The role of a good product marketer is to dig into and decode the ‘why’. For me, curiosity comes naturally – in former roles, ‘why’ was always the first question I asked when I was assigned a new task, sometimes to the annoyance of my manager.
"When that level of curiosity meets with the required empathy to do the job day-in and day-out, that’s where the impact of product marketing really felt."
Laura Foster, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Innovid
A primary part of the product marketer role is to uncover and analyze new information, and to do this with vigor, you need to maintain an inquisitive spirit that seeks to understand by, as Laura put it, asking ‘why’.
This means moving beyond assumptions to gather diverse perspectives. It’s about engaging with questions, and, often, going against the status quo.
When you approach issues with curiosity and care, you reveal innovative opportunities, steering away from rehashing the same old thinking.
“I truly believe that product marketing is the linchpin to sustainable business growth, and that product marketers will be the next generation of CEOs.
“For me, a great product marketer has an unsatiated curiosity about customers and the market, a high level of business acumen, and the ability to build and share a compelling narrative.”
Tamara Grominsky, Chief Strategy Officer at Unbounce
This spirit of open inquiry should guide all your positioning and campaigns. It cements bonds across teams and functions, propelling out-of-the-box growth.
By seeking new insights and diverse viewpoints, you transform stale strategies into cutting-edge wins. The best product marketers stay endlessly curious.
“Whether you’ve spent a year or two in product marketing or are completely new to the field, it’s important to establish that you enjoy products and are generally curious about them.
"Curiosity’s one of the most important skill sets to cultivate as a product marketer, and it’s something that drives my interest in the role today.”
Yasmeen Turayhi, Founder of Modern Product and Product Marketing Consultant and Advisor
From emerging technologies to ever-evolving customer needs, harnessing an unquenchable thirst for knowledge is essential for PMMs to see success. You have to move with the times, after all.
This skill is what brings real innovation to the table and propels transformational growth. By voraciously seeking new insights and diverse perspectives, you evolve stale strategies into pioneering wins.
We couldn't have put it better ourselves:
“Product marketing, as a discipline and a mindset, allows me to bring my full self, every day, into my work.
“There are no wrong answers, just better experiments, all in an effort to tell just the story that has yet to be told, to just the audience that has yet to hear it.
“So to me? A good product marketer simply looks like that: Someone whose natural curiosity, insatiability, and drive to find gaps and solve problems brings them closer and closer to their (and their product's) why, every day.”
Aubyn Casady, Principal Product Marketing Manager at G2
In a world brimming with products and companies fighting to be seen and heard, product marketers must continue to think outside of the box and help their products and organizations stand out from the crowd.
“A great product marketer never compromises on delivering the best possible experience for customers. Great product marketers paint a compelling, ambitious vision, and then work across multiple teams on behalf of customers to bring it to life.
"Great PMMs thrive at the intersection of data, creativity, and empathy.”
Carrie Friedrich Narla, Principal Product Marketing Manager at Amazon Prime Video
So, using your creative skills is essential as you’ll need to explore and implement multiple ways to continue to differentiate your product – particularly in an increasingly saturated market.
Motivation and productivity are two skills that are essential to the success of the role. As a product marketer, you need to have a passion for what you do and what they’re selling. After all, if you don’t believe in your product, how can you expect your consumer to?
“A great product marketer is someone who likes variety and thrives on challenge. On any given day, they might be asked to quarterback a product launch, dig into data on their pipeline issues, lead a partner enablement session, or explain their product's positioning.
"It's important to have the attitude of 'Hey we'll figure this out' because every day is a little bit different.”
Priya Doty, VP of Product Marketing at IBM
You must push yourself to continue working, refining, and improving your products, and your product marketing strategies to continue to grow in a market that is constantly changing and evolving.
Use your work ethic to get ahead of the competition, and refuse to settle for less than what you are capable of.
The role of a dynamic PMM often hinges on this fundamental trait. A skilled product marketer isn't just someone who can navigate the predictable, but someone who thrives in the realm of the unforeseen. They're the detectives of the marketing world, delving into the intricate mysteries of consumer behavior, market trends, and competitive landscapes.
"A good product marketer is a strong problem solver who can analyze a problem, come up with creative remedies, and ruthlessly prioritize the solution to pursue.”
Jana Frejova, Product Marketing Lead at Spendesk
What sets successful PMMs apart from the rest is their ability to creatively problem-solve in a way that doesn't always follow a straight line. It's about finding unconventional angles to tackle problems, concocting innovative solutions that might not be immediately apparent, and then prioritizing them with an unwavering focus.
“PMMs need to connect the dots across disciplines, industries, and ICPs to do their job well. It's almost impossible to follow a playbook with so many moving parts, which is why lateral thinking is such a great skill for PMMs.”
Maya Grossman, VP of Marketing at Jumpstart
PMMs are the ultimate integrators, connecting dots across disciplines, industries, and Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs). They don't use a single, fixed playbook (after all, there are a lot of great resources out there to rely on) because their terrain is ever-evolving, with countless moving parts.
Great strategizing entails meticulously crafting blueprints that guide a product's journey from inception to market dominance: Delving into deep market research, dissecting consumer insights, and deciphering industry trends.
“Product marketing is not just about high-level mission and vision planning. You need to understand where you are now, the intended outcomes, and make choices that’ll move you from A to B.”
James Doman-Pipe, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Remote
Like chess masters, product marketing managers anticipate moves, plotting not just one step ahead but several, to outmaneuver competitors and captivate audiences. Their strategic acumen isn't just a skill; it's a superpower that ensures every product launch, campaign, or pivot is executed with precision and purpose.
“Product marketing’s such a central and strategic role, interacting with almost every part of the business. Plus there's a lot of problem-solving involved, which is really satisfying.
“For me, a good product marketer is someone who gets a genuine kick from collaboration and has a knack for great storytelling and strong copywriting. There's a lot more to it, but those are the standout factors.”
Rory Woodbridge, Head of Product Marketing at Pleo
A product marketing manager is not merely a custodian of strategy and promotion; they are the captains, steering the entire team towards a common destination. They set the tone, inspire collaboration, and instill a collective sense of purpose.
“[A good PMM is] A natural leader who drives collaboration and inspires others to dig in behind a common goal, but also someone who’s not afraid to speak up to senior stakeholders.”
Jana Frejova, Product Marketing Lead at Spendesk
Great product marketing managers lead not by authority alone but by example and vision. Charisma is the key to rallying troops in the face of challenges, wisdom is what’s needed to make tough decisions, and a bit of humility doesn’t go a miss when it comes to learning from both success and failures.
“A great PMM is able to: 1) Lead and inspire without formal authority, 2) tell stories that build identity and community, and 3) operate at every level of thinking from strategy to implementation.”
Alex McDonnell, Marketing Intelligence Lead at Airtable
Leadership is all about fostering an environment where innovation thrives, where every team member feels valued, and where the product's true potential is unlocked.
The ability to prioritize effectively is akin to wielding a master key that unlocks triumph. A skilled PMM is not just a jack of all trades; they are a judicious mastermind, strategically allocating their time and resources where they matter most.
“I believe that a good product marketer should be curious, self-motivated, and self-manageable. They should also be very empathetic to customers' and internal teams' needs and always listen to their feedback.
“A good product marketer should be able to prioritize things and should always know how to say 'no' to people.”
Natasha Katson, Product Marketing Manager at Bananatag
PMMs navigate a landscape filled with countless opportunities, challenges, and ideas, filtering through the noise to unearth the gems that will drive the product forward.
Whether it's crafting a compelling messaging strategy, orchestrating a high-impact product launch, or fine-tuning customer personas, prioritization is their compass. It ensures that every move is deliberate, and every action purposeful.
A product marketing manager must embody the spirit of innovation, constantly seeking new horizons and embracing change as an ally, not an adversary. Staying ahead of the curve is not a luxury but a necessity, as consumer preferences evolve, technologies advance, and markets shift.
“Product marketing requires an awareness of the market, competitors, and customers to build informed strategies and launches.
“A successful product marketer is someone who factors in all of these broader realities into their plans, while also managing and influencing the many cross-functional stakeholders.”
Adam Kerin, Vice President of Product Marketing at Truework
To be truly effective, a PMM must be a trailblazer, pioneering novel approaches to reach audiences, harnessing emerging trends, and uncovering fresh angles to position their product, rather than simply being a bystander.
This progressive mindset is the driving force behind breakthrough campaigns, disruptive strategies, and market-leading innovations.
You heard right, content is still king. Copywriting is the unsung hero in the arsenal of a successful product marketing manager. It's the art of weaving words into a symphony that resonates with the hearts and minds of your target audience.
“A great product marketer is driven by curiosity, approaches problems from a place of empathy, and can simplify complex concepts through the art of storytelling.”
Tamara Grominsky, VP of Strategic Growth at Unbounce
This goes further than writing articles or creating captivating guides and educational eBooks that inform and inspire. Take the likes of sales writing, this invaluable skill impacts audience engagement, and engagement impacts your direct sales.
“Being an engaging and inspiring storyteller to affect change. Not just when it comes to crafting and telling compelling messages, but also to using the art and science behind that skill to lead others through a successful product launch in new ways, or to excite sales teams in how they can challenge their prospect's and customer's status quo thinking, or aligning product and development teams to build real value for clients, and not only reacting to feature requests.”
Ali Hanyaloglu, Head of Global Product Marketing at Akeneo
Multitasking is the heartbeat that keeps the rhythm of product marketing success alive. juggle market research, competitive analysis, customer personas, campaign planning, and much more, all while orchestrating these components into a harmonious whole.
Multitasking isn't just a skill; it's a survival strategy.
“Product marketers are almost like a swiss-army knife for an organization – they can lean in closer on sales strategy, product strategy, marketing strategy, and generally always can bring different perspectives and voices to most meetings and viewpoints – always focused around the customer.”
Nick McLachlan, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Amazon
Being a great multitasker helps to ensure that no detail is overlooked, no opportunity is missed, and that every facet of the product's journey to market is flawlessly executed. To be a great PMM, it’s essential that you thrive on this dynamic balance.
Though it can be overwhelming, utilizing your multitasking prowess to adapt swiftly in an ever-changing landscape, staying attuned to market shifts, and responding with agility will ensure the success of your product and your organization.
“A good product marketer spans the diversity of skills required within the function, though everyone will have a natural penchant towards one side or the other.
“Whether it's inbound research, product strategy, GTM operations, or creative storytelling, identify your strengths within that and capitalize on them.”
Samer Ragheb, Product Marketing Lead at TikTok
“Active Listening – whether it’s listening to a prospect, user, analyst, or internal teams, you need to fully understand the information that you’re getting and be able to play it back in your own words.
“Being able to effectively communicate (written and verbal) is essential for bridging internal teams (product, sales, marketing, etc.) with external audiences (buyers, users, prospects, etc.).”
Jeff Rezabek, Director of Product Marketing at Testlio
As a savvy product marketing manager, the ability to forge connections and establish fruitful liaisons is nothing short of a superpower.
In essence, your role requires you to act as a bridge builder, navigating the intricate landscape that spans marketing, sales, product development, and customer insights, ensuring seamless communication and collaboration amongst diverse teams.
“Product marketing has become essential to every company's strategy and execution. We are the glue between our internal stakeholders (sales, product, customer success, exec team, the rest of marketing) and our external ones (customers, prospects, partners, analysts, reporters, influencers, etc.).
“Because of that highly cross-functional aspect, great product marketers tend to be connectors – they are able to listen, synthesize, educate, and liaise the different parties in a seamless and strategic manner.”
Julien Sauvage, Vice President of Product Marketing at Gong
This skill goes beyond merely holding meetings; it's about fostering a sense of camaraderie and unity among teams with sometimes conflicting priorities while facilitating the exchange of critical insights, strategies, and objectives.
A product marketing manager isn't just a strategist and communicator; they are the architects of relationships that underpin the very essence of thriving products.
They grasp that the intricate web of connections they craft, be it with cross-functional teams, industry influencers, or customers, forms the bedrock upon which successful products are constructed.
These relationships transcend mere transactions; they serve as vital conduits for a constant flow of insights, collaborative energy, and trust.
“PMMs need the ability to build relationships and influence. If you can't do that, you won't get anything done.”
Maureen West, Vice President, Product Marketing Strategist at Publicis Groupe
A proficient product marketer doesn't merely comprehend their audience – they forge profound connections, nurturing loyalty and sparking advocacy. In a realm where innovation and adaptability reign supreme, these relationships are the secret key propelling products from their inaugural launch toward undisputed market dominance.
When running big projects and launches, it’s essential to be organized so that:
- Things run as smoothly as possible,
- All the right people know what they’re doing,
- Your stakeholders are happy, and
- You’re not having to waste time repeatedly explaining processes, or finding things that aren’t organized correctly.
At the end of 2020, we released the Top 100 Product Marketing Influencers 2020 report, a celebration of practitioners who’d left their mark throughout the year.
Within the report, we asked the creme de la creme of PMMs, as voted for by their peers, what they think makes a great product marketer - here are some of the responses we received.
Let’s end on a note with some more advice from the experts in product marketing:
“Great product marketers have three things: They’re a creative generalist marketer, an amazing storyteller, and advocate for their customer and space.
“Also, they know how to create cross-functional momentum inside a company, big or small.”
Marcus Andrews, Group Lead, Product Marketing at HubSpot
“A great product marketer connects the dots – they think of the implications of their launch on not just sales and marketing campaigns, but also customer success, pricing strategy, and operations.
“When they talk to a customer, a sales rep, or a support team member, they read through their own product's messaging and how they can make it better. They get the numbers and metrics that matter to their business and build strategies, campaigns, and new ideas for their product line that move the metrics.”
Kelly Esten, VP of Partner and Product Marketing at Toast
“[What makes a great product marketing manager is] curiosity and empathy! To truly understand and empathize with your user or customer, you need to understand their needs and care about making things better.”
Sara Hall, Head of Product Marketing and Brand Solutions at TikTok
How to improve product marketing skills
Remember that being an expert PMM is a never-ending road; the best product marketing managers out there are constantly looking to improve and master their skills.
Refine your understanding of the core elements of the PMM discipline with Mastering Product Marketing.
Sign up and master every aspect of product marketing – including research, competitive intelligence, positioning, sales enablement, storytelling – and more!
Want to dig a little deeper? Get Advanced Product Marketing Certified to learn how to:
- Execute successful product/feature/market launches.
- Own GTM strategies at companies large and small.
- Keep products on the market by effectively owning the full customer cycle.
- Balance tactics and strategy.
- Build + manage high-performing teams.
- Influence organizational decisions with your PMM prowess.
Good luck on your journey!