Product Manager vs. Product Marketer: Who Should You Hire?

Jason Hawkins

Feb 22, 20174 min read
Product Manager vs. Product Marketer

When you are trying to enhance product development in your company, it can be all too easy to skip over adding another position or really considering what position you should hire for, and ultimately, what is really needed. The debate often comes down to the following question: should you expand your product marketing team or hire a product manager?

As an SEO firm based in Miami, we often get consulted on marketing, product management, and other hiring issues that small businesses are dealing with.

It is important to break down the role differences between a product manager and a product marketer starting with a description, strengths, and general overview of the role for each. From there, we can look at some circumstances that may help you to decide what would be more beneficial to your specific company.

Why Hire a Product Manager?

We are starting with an introduction of the product manager role because this position is generally overlooked. Let’s explore the title and what product managers bring to the table for small-scale businesses.

Job Description: Product Managers are typically an organizational and strategy role found most commonly within a technology company. According to Aha!, they are often considered the CEO of the product and are “…responsible for the strategy, roadmap, and feature definition for that product or product line.”

The position may also include marketing, forecasting, and profit and loss (P&L) responsibilities.” This individual is a leader for product vision and they are responsible for connecting and communicating the vision of a business to others in the company and oftentimes the customers themselves.

General Strengths: Technology, engineering, product development, business strategy, market insight, and communication. 

Position Overview: You can say that product managers are at the intersection of technology, marketing, creative strategy, engineering, sales, and business development. If that is a confusing intersection to take in, think of this individual as highly dynamic and ready to think on their feet. This position usually is the best fit for someone with either a computer science or a strong technical engineering background as it makes them better-able to communicate technical aspects of a product to the technical team.

However, it is also very important for them to be able to communicate to teams that do not have an extensive technical knowledge. It is always nice to hire someone who has already had experience in a product management role.

While not absolutely necessary, it shows a proven record of being able to translate their background and strengths and adapt to the position you need to fill. Product managers can really elevate the selling and marketing potential of a product when they are creative and have the ability to think outside the box.

Why Hire a Product Marketing Manager/Team Addition?

Product marketing is something a little more familiar to most technology companies. If you are on the fence about whether to hire a product manager or a product marketing manager it is important to understand the roles in detail before comparing and contrasting them. Here is a general outline of the product manager role:

Job Description: Product Marketers are responsible, well, for the outbound marketing of the products they serve. This includes designing the message, branding, and positioning for products to drive sales as well as key focuses on developing marketing campaigns that drive sales. Product marketers have a key grasp on who is buying the product and how to reach the buyer in a targeted and track-able manner.

General Strengths: Marketing, campaign design, research, sales-first attitude, customer understanding, strong (written and verbal) communication skills, management and organizational skills.

Position Overview: Product marketers revolve their work around the needs, interests, and demands of the consumer. They are able to take a product and place it in a way that is guaranteed to drive sales.

Marketers have fantastic research skills and do everything that they can to better-understand the audiences that they work with. They are also highly organized and able to manage daily marketing tasks, multiple campaigns, and really whatever comes across their desk. They are real experts when it comes to understanding the buyer and they are able to communicate that to other departments and individuals within your company, when relevant.

So…Who Should You Hire?

As you have probably gathered from the job descriptions, strengths, and general position overviews, these positions are very different in some regards.

For example, product managers have an unparalleled understanding of the technological and fine-tuned aspects of your product.

Marketers, on the other hand, have an exceptional understanding of how the buyer consumes the product that you want to drive sales. Here are some questions to consider when you are weighing the two roles:

  • What gap needs to be filled in enhancing product sales?
  • What strengths (and weaknesses) do you have on your existing team?
  • Does your current technology and engineering team communicate well with your marketing or UX departments? Is this a missing link in your structure?
  • What are your goals for the product this year? Do you need to take a different approach than you have in the past?

Obviously, there are clear strengths to both roles and both positions can be incredibly valuable to a business. When trying to decide which position you need at your company, try to really evaluate what strengths you already have accounted for on your professional team and what might really take things to the next level of success.

Sometimes an additional marketing team member is all you need to drive consumer insights and product sales, while other times an alternative position like a product manager can fill a void that you may not realize exists.

The Takeaway

Whether you hire a product manager or a product marketer, it is important for both of these roles to be self-starters and management potential. Having solid research skills and an inquisitive outlook can also drive creativity and give your team a competitive edge.

Both of these positions require dedication, strategic insight, and the ability to work hard and find answers when they are developing ideas.

When making the decision, it is really about asking yourself the questions above. You may find that you interview for both positions and go with the individual you feel has the best ideas for your specific product. Good luck!

Have you ever had this product manager vs. product marketer debate? What was the end result and why? Let us know in the comments section below, we would love to hear from you.

Author Photo
Jason Hawkins is the CEO & Co-Founder of The Miami SEO Company. He has over ten years of experience in search engine optimization, conversion rate optimization and lead generation. His core responsibilities include identifying ways to increase value of services rendered, training staff on advanced SEO topics, and A/B testing internal processes to consistently improve client return on investment.