To address this I look back to a keynote presentation by the Group VP, Product for Oracle Marketing Cloud, John Stetic. In his opening speech at ProductCamp Toronto 2011 he painted the realm of product management as a triangle. In that triangle he showed the corners as Strategy, Marketing and Technical aspects of the role. This triangle truly encompasses the full breadth of the product management domain.
This is not to say that all product managers must be able to do all aspects of the full triangle, perfectly. Rather, John pointed out that Product Managers (PM) touch at least one point of the triangle. This is often the case for highly complex and deep product portfolios, or in the early stages of a product manager’s career. Most PM’s will be called on to deliver on all three corners, but most settle in on covering two corners of the triangle reasonably well. Although startup projects and small ventures often need a PM to cover all three aspects of the triangle, specializing in one or two corners will provide the best long term results both for the company and for the individual by avoiding burnout.
Starting with the single corners, a PM in the Technical corner is often called a Technical PM. They concentrate their efforts exclusively on design elements of the product, often working in an agile development environment, they are often loosely called Product Owners. Here the main goal is on leading the development team of developers, scientists, or engineers – and creating a product that is both what the target market wants, and which is marketable (finished, robust, and sellable product or service). Titles for these roles include technical PM, PM Specialist, Product Expert, Product Owner, Product Scientist and over variations of seniority
Although it is difficult to conceptualize a PM purely focused on the Strategy corner, the default is that this PM will gravitate to either technical strategy or marketing oriented strategy. Unlike a corporate strategist, PM strategist focus on product or service strategies. On the technical side, a product strategist will create the system architecture, core design, write out many of the high level user cases the technical PM must consider, and very importantly the roadmap. Creating a product roadmap includes designing the future product components and features, working out product migrations and upgrade capabilities, and the End-Of-Life (EOL) approach to the previous generation of products. Titles include Product/Service Strategist, PM Strategist, or Strategic Product Manager.
Corner three is Marketing. Here the PM focused their effort on devising a product centric marketing plan. This plan might include the market launch plan, the calendar of marketing events and tools to leverage, and a focused set of marketing tactics to achieve strategic objectives set by the strategist. Here much of the effort is on developing product collateral, sales enablement tools, web assets, writing and curating the product blog, participating in the social calendar, and driving product centric content marketing. Titles include Tactical Product Marketer, Product Marketing Specialist, Product Marketing Manager, and Marketing PM.
Superficially, Product Management is the holistic owner of a firms’ core product or service offering. When digging deeper, we see that there are three main aspects to a PM’s role. Understanding these areas of expertise, answers our original question. For most cases Product Marketing is a distinct element of Product Management. Product Marketing can be seen as a specialization of Product Management, and in that way they are not necessarily the same.
Stay tuned. The next blog post will cover the three edges of the triangle – in which a product manager or marketer supports dual aspect roles.