Let’s get the obvious out of the way right up front. If product management and product marketing are on the same page with complementary agendas, and both are executing well, reporting structures don’t matter.
In some organizations though, that’s a BIG IF!
It’s worth a look-see to examine the pros and cons of having product management and product marketing under the same or separate executive functions.
In the event product management and product marketing aren’t on the same page as far as their view of the market, priorities, etc., reporting to a single executive can be highly beneficial.
It’s critical both functions see the market through a common lens and establish their priorities around high-value customer outcomes accordingly. That way both functions are working in a complementary fashion. The executive leader will tag one of these functions to create the market view that drives both agendas.
Product marketing will aim their positioning, sales enablement and demand generation efforts at those outcomes with the goal of driving more revenue from existing products.
Product management aims their roadmaps at those same outcomes with the goal of building solutions that eliminate the next biggest obstacles standing in the way of those customer outcomes.
The biggest downside of combining product management and product marketing under one executive function is that product marketing starts acquiring too much technical product knowledge and/or they get pulled into the daily minutia of development issues that seriously handicap their ability to be effective marketers.
It’s like constantly watching the value of your retirement plan as the financial markets bounce up and down. It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture.
Many product marketers feel deceitful pumping up the value messages and marketing efforts when they’re aware of too many product issues. A little bit of ignorance can be a benefit in this scenario.
Every product has issues. Customers still realize tremendous benefits from those products. That’s why product marketers have to stay focused on the value of their products despite those issues.
Think of product marketing as personal hygiene for your products. Without it, they’re not very attractive, and they smell even worse!
In a perfect world, a common set of customer outcomes with strategic value will drive both product management and product marketing.
Product marketing improves the organization’s ability to market and sell existing solutions by mobilizing the customer success stories (outcomes) realized from those solutions.
Product management expands on or creates new customer success stories by building solutions that eliminate the next biggest obstacles (problems) standing in the way of those same outcomes.
The reporting structure may make it easier for that to happen, but it can come with a price in the form of handicapping your product marketing.
Once your organization reaches a certain size, it’s probably more beneficial to have separate reporting structures that keep product marketing focused on generating more revenue from existing solutions, and product management focused on building new solutions for longer-term growth.
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by John Mansour on June 23, 2022.