The difference between product marketing and product management.

Joe Entrepreneur has a brilliant idea for a new electric vehicle that runs on banana peels and avocado pits. The product manager is in charge of getting the car made. Meanwhile, the product marketer creates a marketing strategy to build hype surrounding this up-and-coming vehicle.

The people in these two roles have different skill sets, but they work closely together throughout the product’s life cycle. When the “banana-cado car” becomes a huge hit, they’ll team up to make and sell new models, fix defects in the current models, and ensure the car is continuously well-positioned in the market.

What is product management?

Product management is the process of planning and developing something from concept to actual working product. Product managers get the envisioned product built and shipped by establishing and following a product roadmap and leading a team. They’re in charge of product strategy, identifying a potential audience for a product, and defining consumer pain points. They outline the product features that should be prioritized in order to meet customer needs and take advantage of a space in the market.

A product manager’s job isn’t over once the product is ready. There are always revisions, improvements, and updates to be made. When it comes to digital products like a smartphone’s operating system or a consumer app, there will be new versions with bug fixes. 

Product managers work alongside product marketers during product development.

What is product marketing?

Product marketing is the field of marketing that takes the finished product from the product management team and actually sells it. The steps and strategies taken by product marketers  include finding the right target audience, creating effective marketing campaigns, and tracking promotional efforts to continuously improve the product’s position. 

Product marketers typically work cross-functionally with copywriters, designers, social media managers, advertisers, and SEO teams. Product marketers also frequently work with product managers to align on market needs, positioning, and release dates. While a product-management team is busy getting ready to release the latest version of your phone software, the product marketing team is letting you know what to expect and building hype about the release.

This flow of information goes both ways. Product marketers feed industry sentiment and insight back to product managers to inform new products and help prioritize features. 

If you’re planning to launch a product, it’s important to know how the two domains are different, and how they work together.

What is the difference between product marketing and product management?

Let’s revisit the banana-cado car one last time. Right off the bat, the product manager does a few things:

  • Creates a roadmap for the product, assessing how long it will take to build and release a prototype

  • Sets a budget for hiring engineers and sourcing materials

  • Defines important features and creates a priority order and deadlines to keep the team accountable

Meanwhile, the product marketer: 

  • Brainstorms the best product positioning in the market

  • Creates messaging around the product, including a brand name, tagline, website, and social media campaigns 

  • Launches PR efforts to get the word out and pique the interest of media outlets

  • Hires sales staff to start to work making sales

How is product marketing similar to product management?

Market research impacts both product marketers and product managers, because it determines how (and whether) a product is built and who it is marketed to. 

Marketers have to work closely with product builders in order to parlay actual product information into great messaging. If they’re not intimately familiar with a product, they can’t do a good job promoting it. The product team also needs feedback from marketers. They should know how real customers are using the product and what media outlets are saying. 

In fact, you could say product management and product marketing have a symbiotic relationship, with each dependent on the other. Both teams are:

  • Focused on customer experience and fulfillment

  • Involved in market research

  • Collaborative on product packaging

  • Invested in sales goals 

Ultimately, they have the same goal: Make this product a success.

What are the best tools for product marketers and product managers?

Product managers and the developers they work with rely on highly technical tools and coding options. Product marketers have their fingers in many marketing pots—like social media tools, advertising tools, and website development.

There are also tools both teams may rely on, including::

  • Software for asynchronous communication, such as email, Slack, and WhatsApp

  • Software for synchronous remote meetings, such as Zoom, Skype, or BlueJean

  • Project-management software to track deadlines, goals, stakeholders, and other details. This is where Airtable comes in.

Airtable can be used to enable both product management and product marketing. It’s a highly customizable and collaborative cloud-based platform for organization, tracking, and timelines. Here are a few of the ways that product managers and product marketers typically use Airtable.

Product management use cases 

Product management teams engage in a variety of different exercises in the process of bringing a product or feature to market. They conduct product tests and collect user research and user testing. With all of these activities, capturing data is critical.

User Research Template Example

Try Airtable’s User Research Template

Often, the most important document that product management teams use is the product roadmap, where they map out a timeline and tasks to roll out the product. Airtable acts as a single-source-of-truth workspace for the product roadmap. 

Try Airtable’s Product Roadmap Template

Product marketing use cases

The very nature of product marketing is collaborative, with different teams assigned to execute various strategies and a lot of moving parts that unfold over time. 

Airtable can be used to better coordinate product launches and marketing, with a system all stakeholders can access and view in the format that works best for their particular needs. 

Easy teamwork between teams and external vendors  

Internal collaboration is important, but so is the ability to work with external vendors and partners. These might include user research institutions, design firms, freelancers, and accountants. 

When it comes to working with employees, contractors, vendors, and other entities, remote access to information reigns. A cloud-based platform like Airtable ensures everyone gets secure access to the content and information they need, when they need it, from anywhere. 

Engineers can check the latest bug fix update priority list while working from home. Project managers can keep tabs on every aspect of every project in one place. Marketers can share press releases with public relations (PR) companies to finesse them before they’re published. Social media managers can write copy in advance and keep track of ad campaigns and their respective results.

Product management & marketing in the cloud

ools like Airtable ensure that both remote and in-office work can be done without compromise. That collaboration is essential with a digital workplace acting as the most common office environment, especially for tech companies.

Airtable serves the needs of a lot of different team members, whether it’s management and marketing or otherwise. By serving as the central source of truth, it helps teams collaborate and clearly communicate so that a product successfully comes to market.

With  Airtable as a single home for all your launch planning and effort, you’ll get a robust record of everything it takes to bring your product to life. 

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About the author

Airtable's Product Teamis committed to building world-class products, and empowering world-class product builders on our platform.

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