What a Product Marketing Manager Does
Product marketing managers oversee all marketing efforts for a specific product a company puts out. In the tech industry, that might be a specific app, type of software, game, piece of hardware, or something similar, though virtually all large companies employ product marketers. The product marketing manager must know the product nearly as intimately as a product manager would, but focuses his or her efforts on outbound marketing efforts. That may involve researching new markets, performing market analyses, determining a pricing strategy, creating an overall marketing strategy, and generating hype prior to a product launch. Marketing managers also work along other professionals, such as the product manager, advertising manager, and sales manager, so it’s common to have a hand in everything from branding through development, if only through brainstorming sessions with the team.
Who would enjoy a career in Product Marketing Management?
As with any marketing career, those who get into product marketing are creative and critical thinkers. They’re willing to experiment with solutions and test ideas, both new and old, to see if they perform. On top of this, good product marketing managers are business-minded. They understand that conveying the right message will not only lead to more sales, but satisfied customers, and that effective strategies deliver return for the marketing dollars spent.
Who mightn't like the career?
Creatives don’t always have a business mindset and business-minded people don’t always have a creative mindset. Those who don’t have both won’t excel in this career. Furthermore, creatives can get burned out focusing on the same product every day, while hungry business-focused professionals may run a successful campaign or two and want to move onto something new. There’s also a lot of pressure to deliver results, particularly when a new product launches. Those who aren’t cool under fire and prepared to pivot to new ideas will struggle in the field.
Most product marketing managers begin their careers in low-level marketing positions, such as a coordinator or specialist role. These types of positions typically require at least a bachelor’s degree in marketing, though sometimes a related field serves as a gateway too.
Candidates with experience should be prepared to share a portfolio of successful marketing campaigns, while those new to the field may wish to work as an intern to gain experience before applying for a permanent position. It’s also important to read up on the company one is applying to, to learn as much as possible about its internal process, products, target customer, and current marketing strategies beforehand.
Having an elevator pitch or coming up with a unique way to sell oneself as the ideal candidate will go a long way in these positions. Lastly, marketing manager positions can require many different skills, and will vary from one opening to the next, even within the same company. For this reason, it’s essential to read through all job requirements thoroughly in advance to ensure the position is a good fit.
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Moving into Product Marketing Management from another career
As noted earlier, most product marketing managers start out in lower-level marketing positions, such as a specialist or coordinator role. However, an individual with experience related to the industry, brand, or product may be able to make the transition with little difficulty as well.
Marketing Specialist or Marketing Coordinator
Role: There are numerous entry-level in-house marketing positions, and the titles will vary by company, as well as by specialty. Titles often have the name coordinator or specialist in them, and may include general marketing, aspects of digital marketing like social media, or event marketing. Core components of entry-level positions include administrative work, research, and supporting the needs of the upper-level marketing team members.
Product Marketing Manager
Role: In order to become a marketing manager, companies traditionally expect a degree in a field relating to management or marketing as well as 3-4 years of experience in the field. The manager is responsible for creating the overall marketing campaigns, breaking up tasks among the team, ensuring the campaigns produce the desired results, and managing the team of specialists.
Role: Marketing directors generally oversee all aspects of marketing, including digital, print, media, or any other medium the company uses. They often come up with the overall concepts the marketing teams use in their campaigns, and work to ensure a cohesive branding effort is made. It’s also the director’s job to set budgets for marketing, measure ROI, handle all business planning as it relates to marketing, and oversee all staff below him or her. People may begin to qualify for director roles after 6-7 years in the field.
Vice President of Marketing / Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
Role: Vice presidents and Chief Marketing Officers are high-level executives who work even more strategically. They naturally oversee all aspects of marketing, but their core focus is on understanding consumer behavior, expectations, and ensuring that the marketing messages speak to both. They may conduct market research, observe trends, and help frame the general feel of the brand or products, covering everything from pricing to packaging. People usually have a minimum of 12-14 years of experience before they can advance to the VP level. Following this, some, but not all, companies also offer a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) position.
It’s common for directors and VPs to travel anywhere the company does business or is considering doing business, which could mean domestic or abroad. Those in lower positions tend to work out of a centralized office.
Marketing Specialist: According to PayScale, marketing specialists earn an average of USD$50,062 per year in the United States. In the United Kingdom, the average is £27,660, whereas salaries are CAD$50,750 and AU$62,986 in Canada and Australia, respectively.
Product Marketing Manager: USD$87,128, £39,440 CAD$73,994, AU$95,366
Marketing Director: USD$83,000, £68,073, CAD$85,300, AU$144,926
VP of Marketing: USD $138,620, £92,817, CAD$124,413, AU$161,500
Product marketing professionals may increase their salaries by as much as 25% through bonuses, profit sharing, and commissions.
Why a Product Marketing Manager moves on
Those who excel in product marketing are typically hungry for greater success and new heights, which means a great many go on to start their own companies, they climb the ladder, or they simply move onto a new company or product when they no longer feel challenged in their position. However, many opportunities exist beyond this.