My title is Product Marketing Manager, but more often than not the word marketing in the title does more harm than good.

My colleagues in engineering and sales and even joined-at-the-hip-partner product management will often dismissively refer to my function as “just marketing” and accuse us of producing spin or, worse,  fluff. Friends and family not familiar with the business equate marketing with advertising – which most consider an ignoble profession, based on exaggeration and trickery.

I always thought marketing in general was an interesting kind of thing. I always liked commercials and billboards.

Carrot Top

In reality, no part of my job description includes advertising!

I recently attended a meeting of marketing professionals where I was making small talk with a man who told me he was an engineer who had been laid off a number of times because the company failed or his project was cancelled. He told me he started attending this meeting so he could more easily identify in the future when “marketing is screwing up” and take us to task.

So what is the role of a product marketing manager anyway?

Let me describe for you a month in the life of a PMM.

If you are not a product marketing manager, but think you might want to move in this direction, I hope what follows doesn’t discourage you. Product marketing is much like parenting – many people will weigh in with their opinion of what you’re doing wrong and few will tell you you’re doing a great job (that’s why having a great manager is critical!). But I’ve done many things in my high tech career: technical support, quality assurance, network administration, corporate marketing, product management, and sales enablement. As far as I’m concerned, this is the most interesting and exciting position I’ve held.If you are already a product marketing manager, you may find that you do some of these things but not all of them. Perhaps you have activities I haven’t listed here. The role can be different with every company. Please add your perspective in the comments.

New product announcement

  • Prepared messaging document; socialized and obtained inputs from key constituents
  • Wrote announcement heads-up bulletin and Q&A document for sales and channel partners
  • Designed several sets of slides for various internal and external audiences (customers, press, industry analysts, bloggers)
  • Edited multiple drafts of the press release
  • Led numerous meetings with individuals and executives across the organization to brief them on the announcement and solicit their support
  • Collaborated with technical marketing and product management to define what we would like to showcase in the announcement demo
  • Prepared materials for executive briefings with trade press and industry analysts

Field sales and channel partner training

  • Reviewed, revised, and rehearsed training presentations prepared by my colleagues
  • Presented in person or by webcast to 5 separate sales and partner teams

Conferences

  • Reviewed relevant breakout session slide decks and participated in rehearsals (Even though these are technical sessions, it’s important to ensure the products are positioned accurately.)
  • Determined language for signage at demo stations showcasing my products
  • Worked with engineering resources to define demos for exhibition hall
  • Prepared and delivered (many, many times) high level presentations for my products designed to interest people in visiting the demo station to learn more
  • Did many hours of booth duty

Competitive

  • Collaborated with technical marketing on competitive positioning documents for sales

Administrative

  • Attended about 6 hours per week of product-related meetings
  • Read and responded to about 200 email messages daily
  • Participated in social media activities on Twitter, Facebook, internal and external communities

What’s the best part of my job? The variety – of people, of activities.

Does product marketing sound interesting to you?

If you’re a Product Marketing Manager, what’s in a day or month of your life?

Advertisements