Product Management 101: Product Marketing

At the intersection of product, marketing, sales, and customer success sits an increasingly crucial function in any organization. We can think of product marketing as the driving force behind bringing a product to market, but the responsibilities also extend throughout the entire product lifecycle. While product marketing will look different at every company, there are some key foundational elements of the role.

What is product marketing?

Product marketing is a function within an organization responsible for launching products and features into the market, coming up with product positioning and messaging, and articulating use cases and differentiation in service of both sales and customer enablement. Ultimately, they are tasked with driving demand and usage of the product, ensuring sales is properly enabled to sell the product, and customers are educated and empowered to use it.

Some like to think of product marketing as the connection between the product and the market in both directions: understanding the market demand and needs that will shape the product, and communicating product information out to prospects and customers. While product marketing is often part of the marketing team, it might fall under product at some organizations or exist as its own team separate from both marketing and product. 

Why is product marketing important?

The main reason companies implement a formal product marketing function is to ensure they are reaching the right audience. Product marketing is responsible for deeply understanding the customer and their problems — and bringing the voice of the customer into the product planning process — as well as driving adoption and advocacy. Without a person (or team) dedicated to this, it can get lost among other priorities and initiatives.

Product marketing is also integral to enabling sales, customer success, and marketing teams. By creating consistent, value-driven messaging about the product, the entire company is better prepared and aligned around the value the product brings to the market.

What does a product marketing manager (PMM) do?

One of the most common roles in product marketing is a product marketing manager (PMM). The specifics of the role will depend on a company’s business needs and the makeup of the broader team, but it is largely focused on communicating the product’s value to the market and ensuring customer needs are factored into the development process.

Here are some responsibilities that often fall under a PMM’s umbrella:

  • Writing product messaging and positioning 
  • Developing product personas
  • Managing or supporting product and feature launches
  • Conducting customer and competitor research
  • Creating product-specific marketing content and sales collateral 
  • Partnering with product managers to bring customer considerations into development
  • Strategizing product pricing and packaging
  • Training sales and customer teams on new products/features

How do product marketers measure success?

Since the role is so cross-functional, product marketers share many KPIs with their counterparts in other departments. Here are just some of the KPIs a product marketing team might measure:

  • Product usage (feature adoption, product engagement, etc.)
  • New and expansion revenue
  • User activation
  • Retention/churn
  • Marketing qualified leads (MQLs)
  • Product qualified leads (PQLs)
  • Website signups
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Recommended reading

“The Simple Phrase at the Heart of Product Marketing” by Shruti Koparkar

At the heart of successful product marketing are three words: compelling differentiated advantage. Learn why each one is key to an effective messaging strategy.

“The Role of Product Marketing in Your Startup: Defining & Implementing Product Marketing” by Saeed Khan

In this article for OpenView, Saeed Khan, writer for On Product Management, explains how companies should — and shouldn’t — define product marketing, plus how to implement the function effectively.

“What Do Product Marketers Do? Insights from PMMs at Facebook, Uber, Lyft, and Figma” by Misha Chellam

This Medium post shares perspectives from four product marketers on how they view their role as well as the four key stages of product marketing.

“6 Essential Elements of a Product Marketing Strategy” by Sujan Patel

Every company’s product marketing efforts and goals will look a little different, but this post lays out the six key elements every product marketing strategy should include.

“How to Create Detailed Buyer Personas for Your Business” by Pamela Vaughan

Since product marketing is often tasked with developing product personas, learn how to create buyer personas to help focus your efforts and reach the right audiences.