Product team members all have an invaluable role to play when it comes to developing products and bringing them to market. Product managers and product marketers are especially intertwined when it comes to product success, as they work closely together from concept through launch.
As highly specialized roles, these two players often have a shared goal, but their vastly different approaches can lead to friction if not managed properly. Rather than working against one another, each person can learn and collaborate more effectively for improved product outcomes—starting with these 3 key takeaways for both functional roles!
Finding Opportunities to Add Value to Each Other’s Workload
By working together, product managers and product marketers can pool their knowledge and resources in order to maximize project efficiency and bring forth innovative ideas.
Product managers serve as experts in framing the problem or opportunity space to assess product solutions and determine whether that solution addresses the customer need. Alternatively, product marketers are experts in articulating the challenges and benefits that the customer might experience and ensuring that these messages resonate as they take products to market.
“As a product marketer, one of the most effective things I’ve seen work when working with a product manager who has not collaborated with a product marketer before is to not just ask them to include you in conversations with clients, but to find ways to add value to the work they’re already doing,” said Jaime Singson, a product and marketing executive based in New York. “For example, if they’re running a Beta program, help project manage the program and recruit candidates; schedule the meetings with clients so that both you and the Product Manager can hit each of your customer research goals with one client meeting.”
With these two groups working together, opportunities to secure maximum value arise more easily through better communication between project members.
For example, a product manager during the discovery and scope phase can lean on the product marketer to handle or organize some of the customer research work. Product marketers are customer-centric communications experts, making them an ideal resource to organize customer development and collaborate on the research preparation. This collaboration allows the product marketer to engage in the heavy lifting of the customer research work and for the product manager to focus on UX and engineering team coordination in the early project phases while still maintaining involvement in customer interviews to prepare questions and attend.
Similarly, the product marketer is often close to sales and competitive intelligence teams, providing them with strong insights into the barriers of onboarding new customers—what features have caused them to lose deals? What problems have competitors not solved yet that can open up new doors for the product? What are differentiating capabilities? A product manager can (and should) lean more heavily on product marketers to derive those insights and apply them to the product development lifecycle.
Identifying Both the Buyer and User Persona for Successful Launch
Product managers and product marketers must work together to ensure a successful product launch, and they will likely have multiple perspectives depending on the project. Understanding the buyer and user perspective is key. Without such insight, teams may miss important requirements or fail to include ancillary components that are critical for success.
“The product managers are experts on the user personas. The product marketer will understand the buyer persona. Sometimes they are the same, but many times, they are not. It’s important for product teams to maintain both perspectives,” said Singson. “If product marketers are taken along on the journey, they can ask what excites them. What’s the language? What’s the most important benefit?”
Sharing expertise on the user and buyer personas align product managers and product marketers for success. A product marketer with a good understanding of the buyer persona may be able to suggest capabilities to the product manager that would delight the buyer and make the product easier to sell. Likewise, a product manager with an understanding of the user persona can help product marketers craft messaging for key stakeholders on buying committees.
Working together, product managers and product marketers can collaborate to refine the user experience, bridge any component gaps, and verify that the overall experience fulfills customer expectations. Although multiple stakeholders influence product launches, gaining a comprehensive understanding of both the buyer and user persona provides a strong foundation for long-term success.
Preserving the Voice of the Customer
At product launch, it is essential for product managers and product marketers to have empathy towards customers, capturing their voice to optimize product launches. This empathy is developed through collaboration with customers to comprehend their pain points and interests.
“It’s important for product managers to involve the product marketers early in the customer journey research to channel the customer’s voice – their frustrations and fears, their hopes and dreams,” said Singson. “Empathy is a very individual thing that both product managers and product marketers have to achieve—and both have to hear the customer’s voice.”
Product managers and product marketers are working to achieve closely aligned goals with minor differentiations. Product managers are looking for how to best address the customer’s underlying problem while the product marketer is listening for how to best articulate the challenges and benefits the customer experiences. Both of these goals require empathy.
Understanding customer insights will influence product messaging, sales tools, pricing, packaging, and other creative elements that shape the customers’ journey during the product launch. By actively listening to customers and working with them in empathy-driven partnerships, product managers and product marketers are able to authentically channel the voice of the customer throughout a successful launch.
While not specific to the customer, upholding empathy across team members is an important part of the product development lifecycle. Maintaining those workplace bonds not only aligns projects to general success, but allows team members to thrive and release the best product possible.
“Product managers care deeply about their engineering team’s morale – reiterating that what they are working on matters,” said Singson. “Product marketers have a great sense about which features customers love, and whether these features will enable the team to close deals. Product managers can rely on product marketers to help identify instances and stories where the work their engineers do helps in closing a deal or retaining a client, showing engineers how their work matters.”
Product managers and product marketers have a lot to learn from each other—and when they work together, the entire team benefits. Rather than partnering on a superficial level, they can learn from the other, ensuring a successful product launch.