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Demystifying the Roles of In-bound and Out-bound Product Management

About the Author
Tanwistha Gope
Tanwistha Gope

Product Marketing Manager at Zeotap

In the intricate world of product development and marketing, there are two key players that claim the spotlight: Product Managers and Product Marketing Managers. While their titles might seem similar, these roles serve distinct purposes within an organization. Transitioning from the domain of product management to product marketing seems logical and neutral – not solely due to the shared presence of the term “product” in both designations. But are you aware of the shared attributes as well as disparities that underlie these two roles? And are you also aware of the advantages awaiting you when transitioning from one role to the other?
In this blog, we will delve into the differences that separate Product Management from the realm of Product Marketing Manager roles, and shed light on how each contributes to a product’s success.

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    Defining Product Management Vs Product Marketing Manager

    Let’s commence with the fundamental aspects by distinguishing between Product Marketing and Product Management. Product Management assumes the role of crafting a product, whereas Product Marketing undertakes the responsibility of taking that product into the market. In this context, product management guarantees the execution of the product roadmap, ensuring all prerequisites are met and effectively communicating ongoing developments to the product marketing team. Given that a significant portion of a Product Manager’s duties are directed inwardly within the organization, all the while maintaining alignment with the company’s vision, mission, and strategy, it is apt to refer to them as “In-Bound Product Managers.”

    On the contrary, Product Marketing directs its attention towards the broader spectrum of go-to-market endeavors. The baton passes from Product Management to Product Marketing, as the latter ensures that the product’s attributes and requirements are strategically positioned and communicated to the market, resonating compellingly with both decision-makers and end users.

    Considering that the majority of a Product Marketing Manager’s responsibilities extend outward to the organization, all while maintaining alignment with the company’s vision, mission, and strategy, it is appropriate to designate them as “Out-Bound Product Managers.”

    Frequently, the landscape entails an intersection of these nuanced responsibilities, which might not be as precisely delineated as the distinct ownership of Product Management or Product Marketing.

    Product Management: Crafting the Vision and Execution by Defining the Blueprint

    Product Managers are the architects behind a product’s creation and evolution while bridging the gap for customer needs, business goals, and technical feasibility. They identify how products fulfill a business’s wider objectives, express what would make that product successful, and form a creative team to bring the product to life. They ensure the product is efficiently made and meets its user’s needs, and analyses feedback from users to guarantee the best future for the product’s development. They identify customer needs by communicating with users and prospective customers to create user stories. These stories are used to translate customers’ needs into business requirements and practical, functional specifications for product engineers.

    Here’s a closer look at their responsibilities: 

    • Strategy and vision: They establish a clear vision for the product, aligned with the company’s objectives. They define the product’s long-term goals and create a roadmap that outlines how the product will evolve to meet market demands.
    • Market research and validation: They conduct in-depth market research to understand customer needs, pain points and trends. They validate ideas through customer feedback, ensuring that the product aligns with actual user requirements.
    • Product definition and road mapping: Armed with market insights, they define the product’s features, functionalities, and specifications. They create a product roadmap that outlines the timeline and prioritization of different features.
    • Collaboration with cross-functional teams: They work closely with engineering, design, and other teams to translate the product vision into reality. This involves constant communication, setting expectations, and addressing challenges that arise during development.

    Product Marketing Manager: Taking the Product to Market and Elevating the Product’s Voice

    Product Marketing Managers assume a pivotal role in guaranteeing the resonance of the product with the intended audience, skillfully capturing their attention. Their responsibility lies in artfully crafting compelling messages and strategies that propel the product into prominence within a crowded marketplace. They adeptly communicate the product’s value to the market by accentuating its benefits to potential users. Simultaneously, they excel at “selling” the product’s secondary features to existing customers who are yet to embrace them. Their focus resides in the outward facets of the product, encompassing crucial elements such as positioning, messaging, and promotion.

    Here’s a breakdown of their key responsibilities:

    • Positioning and messaging: They define how the product should be positioned in the market to differentiate it from the competitors. They create messaging that communicates the product’s unique value proposition to potential customers.
    • Go-to-Market strategy: They create comprehensive go-to-market (GTM) strategies that outline how the product will be launched and promoted. They collaborate with various teams to ensure a coordinated and effective product launch.
    • Content creation: They develop marketing materials such as sales presentations, product collateral, and case studies. These materials arm the sales teams with the tools they need to effectively communicate the product’s benefits.
    • Market intelligence: They keep a check on the market landscape, including competitors, trends, and customer preferences. This information helps shape the product’s messaging and strategy.

    Collaboration and Synergy between the two roles

    While their responsibilities differ, In-Bound and Out-Bound Product Managers work hand in hand to create a successful product. Their synergy ensures that a product is not only well-developed but also successfully brought to market:

    • Feedback loop: Product Marketing Managers gather insights from the market that can influence future product development by Product Managers.
    • Aligned messaging: Collaboration ensures that the messaging crafted by Product Marketing Managers accurately reflects the product’s features and benefits as envisioned by Product Managers.
    • Market validation: Product Managers benefit from Product Marketing Managers‘ insights, helping them validate the viability of new features or ideas in the market.

    Transferable skills when transitioning from a Product Manager to Product Marketing Manager

    There’s a clear overlap in some of the soft and hard skills needed to succeed in both roles. While we know that product marketing and product management aren’t the same, we also know that there are transferable skills that can be taken from one role to the other. Following are three important skills that can be transferred from product management to product marketing:

    • Market and customer insights: Gaining insights from the market and understanding customers are essential for both roles, as they strive to make well-informed product decisions. Although their methods might diverge, a shared comprehension of the market and customer dynamics is of utmost importance.
    • Competitive analysis and positioning strategies: Examining competition and devising effective positioning strategies is a common thread. While product management takes the lead in guiding product development, product marketing takes charge of shaping positioning and messaging. This collaborative effort contributes significantly to competitive analysis and effective market positioning.
    • Compelling messaging and value propositions: Developing captivating messaging and establishing value propositions are integral tasks. Here, product management aligns product features with customer desires and requirements. Concurrently, product marketing excels in crafting the go-to-market messaging that resonates with consumers and drives engagement.

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