I was recently in a meeting with the CEO of a startup discussing her company. I was curious about a specific capability of the product and so she asked her marketing manager in to discuss it.

The first question I asked was about the capabilities at scale and the marketer didn’t know, instead he needed to call in the head of product who in turn Slacked his remote backend developer. To answer one simple question I had to ask 4 people.

However, this is not something that is uncommon, in fact when I talk to most entrepreneurs at startups with more than about 20 people there is a clear siloing between marketing, leadership, and product functions. This causes breakdowns in understanding that can create these kind of situations.

It is this hole that the product marketing manager needs to fill in order to bring all of these areas together, not simply to sell the product, but to understand its full capabilities.

This may sound like a product manager, but the reality of that role is that it should be concentrating on creating the best product, not explaining to external stakeholders what it can do. After all, a product manager is not going to be going out on sales calls or sending out email marketing campaigns - running every claim by them would waste the time of one of the most important members of the company.

Instead smart companies are now understanding that a product marketing manager needs to be the person who can communicate the product capabilities because those are the elements that customers want to know.

If you think about the huge capabilities of a product like Photoshop, it has capabilities for 3D designers, photographers, designers, editors, and hundreds of others, but each will use the product differently. I have been using it for several years mainly for photography and thought I knew my way around it, but when a friend showed me how she was using it for 3D designs it felt like an entirely different thing. A product marketing manager needs to not be the person sending out marketing targeted at photographers, they need to be the person who can explain to all users what the product can achieve for their individual needs.

A product marketing manager needs to understand a product back to front then communicate these elements to their users. This is not the job of traditional marketers or product managers, instead it needs to rest within a single function at a company. Those companies who have understood this are those growing, those who haven’t need to move fast to avoid being disrupted.

If you're working in Product Marketing and would like to discuss this further, join us at the  Product Marketing Summit  in San Francisco September 18 & 19