Product Manager Relationships: Marketing


Product Manager Relationships: Marketing

This post is one in a series about the different relationships that a product manager has within their organization, whether it be working alongside the product designer or engineer, or liaising with customer success and feeding information to the marketing team. 

This post looks at the relationship between a product manager and the marketing team.

Marketing

According to the American Marketing Association, marketing is "the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers", which to the rest of us means that they're responsible for telling potential customers why a product might be valuable to them, so that they buy them.

Relationship between marketing and a product manager

The relationship between product and marketing is an opportunity for the exchange of valuable information that will lead to a successful product.  

Product managers look to translate customer needs into product features that can then be sold, whilst marketing teams will look to get the product out in front of as many potential customers as possible to get these sales.

How a product manager can make the marketing team happy

Marketing is a communication focused role, consisting of of getting messages out into the marketplace in order to encourage product uptake from potential customers.  

These messages need to explain to users how the product will meet their needs, whether they are specific (this product will track your daily steps and notify you when you reach your goals) or more generic (this product will make you feel better about your life).

The more specific the messaging, the more important it is for the product team to supply the marketing team with the details of how the product works, what benefits it provides, and what the product looks like.  Without this marketing teams cannot communicate accurately.  

As such, its important for product teams to supply product information to the marketing team, which can be done in a variety of ways, including:

  • Product demonstrations - show the team how it works so they can see for themselves how it works and what it does
  • Internal press releases - something used by Amazon to test new ideas, but which can give direction to marketing teams 
  • Feature definitions - descriptions of how features work, with associated images or videos, with anticipated values

Communication between teams is essential!

What product managers want from a marketing team

When it comes to the other side of the relationship, marketing teams can be a massive source of information around both the customer needs and the wider product marketplace.  

Whereas product managers often focus heavily on current customers, marketing teams spend a large proportion of their time analyzing potential customers.  Where are they?  What are they using now?  What are the problems they're trying to solve?

This information allows the product team to be more strategic in their thinking, as they start to consider how the product needs to adapt to capture a wider market.

A further area that marketing can support the product team is to communicate in advance any marketing campaigns that they have planned. 

If there is an upcoming campaign focused around Feature X, then product managers should know that they should ensure any improvements to this area are either a)  released well in advance so any new customers obtained with the campaign can receive all the potential value they can, or b) any updates to this area are delayed until after the campaign so as to avoid any risk of breaking the product in this area.

There's nothing worse than a lack of communication between departments leading to a mad panic when there is a realization that the next product release is scheduled for the same day as the latest advertising campaign.

Communication between teams is essential!

Further Reading

Product Plan: How To Build An Amazing Relationship Between Product Management and Marketing

Building a Successful Partnership between Product Marketing and Product Management

Note:

This post is a short summary of the roles and relationships mentioned. It does not cover every element involved in product development and is intended to give an indication of how the roles might interact.

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