Apr 15, 2023 Fawn Hudgens

The who, what, why of Product Marketing Managers

Suppose you’re a business or marketing leader. In that case, you’ll hear plenty of buzz about Product Marketing Managers (PMMs), so much so that we’ve had clients hire them without understanding their role, responsibilities or effectiveness. This doesn’t make for a great relationship for any party. With that in mind, we’ve compiled this quick guide to all things PMM. 

What is Product Marketing?

Let’s start with the basics. Our partner HubSpot states, “Product marketing is the process of bringing a product to market, promoting it and selling it to a customer. It involves understanding the product’s target audience and using strategic positioning and messaging to boost revenue and demand for the product.”

Unlike conventional marketing, which is focused on promoting a brand and company as a whole, and encompasses tactics such as PR, SEO and lead generation, product marketing does what it says on the tin. It’s strategic, particularly centred around the launch, execution and ongoing marketing of a product. 

What do product marketers do?

Identify buyer personas: Who is your target audience, and what are their characteristics? Businesses, particularly start-ups and scale-ups, will tend to have a general idea of their personas but will not have undergone a formalised research process to solidify this knowledge. You must. This serves as a foundation for any effective marketing. Check out this deep-dive resource in buyer personas.

Positioning and messaging: Positioning articulates: What are the benefits to the end customer? How are you changing their world for the better? In the words of April Dunford, positioning expert, how are you “obviously awesome”? This requires in-depth customer research and hearing about what’s important about your product from the proverbial horse’s mouth (not just the features the business thinks are groundbreaking). 

Moreover, this means understanding the space in which you want your product to dominate. A thorough understanding of the product and competitor landscape is needed.

The positioning work will then feed into your messaging and subsequent story framework. Your messaging is the external way you talk about your product to consumers and compels customers to take action. This underpins marketing and sales messaging, including your website. 

Sales and customer success (CS) enablement: Attracting the right customers to your product means ensuring your sales team has the right intelligence and assets. Given your PMMs’ insights into the customer and product, they are ideally placed to disseminate this information across the business, create a proper sales enablement process and create sales collateral, such as battle cards, scripts, etc., that enables the sales team to convert better. Check out this resource on sales enablement on HubSpot.

This also applies to the customer success team: The PMM will ensure they have the information CS need to handle complaints and objections and cross-sell/up-sell products successfully. 

Product market fit (PMF): Your PMM is the main voice of your customer within the business. They will understand what’s working and not working for your clients with existing products and test new ones with customers before fully going to market. This means a close relationship with the product team. 

They help ensure your product meets the needs of your target audience - and continues to do so. A continual hygiene loop will be in place so your product and messaging always hit the right notes with your consumer as it evolves. 

PMF also entails developing pricing strategies and structures.

Create and execute your product marketing strategy: This will encompass the above tasks, content, and campaigns. It will also cover go-to-market for new products and updates - and management of their launches. This article dives into the value of product marketing for SaaS companies.

What don't they do

I’ve worked with businesses where PMMs have continuously had to clarify their role to leaders across the company and push back on leading various projects. 

Product leaders, I hate to put you in the spotlight, but you are often the perpetrators in these instances. PMMs may have the word product in their title, but they are not Product Managers. Namely, Product Managers are the voice of the product internally, amongst developers and engineers specifically. PMMs are the voice of your product externally, ensuring your target audience understands what it does and why that’s important. 

They often do not speak the language of your tech team, and it’s your Product Manager’s responsibility (not your PMMs) to translate and ensure customers’ needs are understood and the product reflects them.

They do not own the product strategy, roadmap or execution.

Marketing leaders, you’re up next: Your PMM may know your company’s personas inside out (after all, they created them), but that does not mean they are inbound marketers. PMMs will indeed create some marketing collateral, but they are not full-time copywriting resources. Utilising them as such will undermine the effectiveness of their original role. 

In a Product Marketing Alliance (PMA) survey, only 5.1% of the product marketing respondents believed that the stakeholders in their company understood their roles thoroughly. To get the most out of your PMM and prevent any confusion or time-wasting, ensure their role, responsibilities, access requirements and goals are clearly communicated to the business when they start.

Where do PMMs sit in your organisation?

PMMs have a unique cross-functional role within a company in that their expertise and responsibilities overlap with several teams:

Their role breaks down silos - and puts the customer at the forefront of operations. Who doesn’t want that? 

This also makes them useful points of contact for senior leadership. They should have total access to the insights and systems used by marketing, sales, product and CS to enable them to deliver their outputs. 

(Here's a more detailed look at how PMMs support each team specifically.)

However, if there’s any question about where within the reporting structure your PMM should sit, it should always be within your marketing function, reporting to the marketing leader. This ensures that the business navigates towards being audience-focused instead of product-focused. 

If you are a start-up without a developed marketing team, and perhaps a product marketer is your first hire (smart move), it would make sense that they report to the CEO. However, as the organisation grows, ensure that this reporting line shifts over to marketing, as it’s easy for a CEO to commandeer their PMM into pet projects unwittingly. 

Check out this article if you’re looking for more information on what to look for when hiring a PMM and building a product marketing team structure

What should a product marketing director's first 90 days look like?

Make sure your PMM puts together a 30-60-90 day plan at their start. There’s a lot of upfront research and development to get through, which will help them stay on track (and for you to understand what should be delivered). Below, we’ve broken down what a standard plan could look like. Obviously, this should be tweaked depending on the business, but it gives you a good idea of what’s on the agenda.

First 30 days

This stage is all about learning, understanding, researching and integrating. Use the example below when working with early-stage or scaling companies.

Objectives: Get up to speed on product/technology. Explore existing content and practices. Meet new team members and start building relationships aligning with their goals. Dive into market research and create a product marketing foundation.

Market Research

Product familiarisation and learning - shoot a short video demo

Understand target markets, segments, buyer personas, competitors and partners - present initial findings


Positioning & Messaging

Understand produce value prop - start whitepaper

Create a high-level product story

Start developing positioning and differentiation

Go To Market Strategy

Understand past GTM strategies

Understand new/product feature cadence and methodology


Packaging & Pricing

Understand current packaging and pricing.


Sales Enablement

Read existing sales materials and videos

Understand the sales team’s needs


Team Building

Meet new team members to understand roles, collaboration, and expectations. 



SECOND 30 days

This stage builds nicely on top of your first 30 days as a PMM. You will gather insights that will help you flesh out your product understanding and market position.

Objectives: Figure out the cadence for updates/collaboration with team members. Start fleshing out PMM processes. Develop a go-to-market strategy and outline the overall plan. Create a presentation based on market research and present initial findings to management. Continue building a product marketing foundation.

Market Research

Product familiarisation and learning - shoot a second video demo

Understand target markets, segments, buyer personas, competitors and partners - present initial findings


Positioning & Messaging

Complete a draft of a whitepaper

Create additional product/solution stories and use cases

Complete positioning and differentiation

Go To Market Strategy

Develop overall GTM strategy and outline overall plan


Packaging & Pricing

Explore competitor packaging and pricing.


Sales Enablement

Sit in on sales calls to listen to customer language

Further understanding of the sales team’s needs


Team Building

Further develop relationships to understand roles, collaboration, and expectations. 

Develop job descriptions for further supporting PMM roles.



Third 30 days

Objectives: Complete setting up the marketing foundation and create a marketing playbook. Recommend top product marketing initiatives and start creating content.

Market Research

Continue to refine your understanding of target markets, segments, buyer personas, competitors and partners. 


Positioning & Messaging

Document positioning/product stories in the product marketing playbook

Start creating copy, PPTs, programs and sales & marketing tools


Go To Market Strategy

Flesh out the overall GTM strategy and outline the overall plan

Recommend top marketing initiatives and associated key metrics


Packaging & Pricing

Explore different options for  packaging and pricing - with support.


Sales Enablement

Create a plan for sales support with the sales team.


Team Building

Start planning RevOps processes for close team alignment

Start training team in processes, tools and tactics



As you can see, PMMs are vital to an organisation, and their impact is undeniable. 

As the PMA says, “Product marketers are the overarching voices of the customer, masterminds of messaging, enablers of sales, and accelerators of adoption. All at the same time.” 

They are a must-hire for any business. Check out how we can help with your product marketing needs.


Published by Fawn Hudgens April 15, 2023