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Product management and product marketing are very closely related disciplines, with some differences. Of course, they both need to work together to produce and sell products and services that meet the needs of their target customers, so let’s always remember we’re on the same team, here.

I like to explain the difference like this: the product manager listens to the needs of the market and ensures that products are developed accordingly; the product marketer speaks to the market in ways and at times and using methods that are meaningful to the prospective customer.

When I moved into product management from finance, I was fortunate enough to take a course from a company called Pragmatic Marketing. I was new enough to the discipline that I remember being concerned that it said “marketing” and I wasn’t sure why.

For anyone who is already familiar with the Pragmatic Marketing training, or their framework, you know that it is a robust structure for a strategic approach to both product management and marketing. For those who aren’t familiar with it, you might want to look into their training options.

When I took their course, it was over three days which were as entertaining as they were enlightening. Here are some of the things I remember learning from that class:

  • First and foremost is the utterly critical nature of listening to the market. This was the very top, left-hand block in the framework and the foundation for everything else. Think about it this way: if you are spending any time building a solution for a problem that does not exist in the marketplace, you have already failed.
  • When looking at what problems to solve, Pragmatic Marketing taught me to ask if that problem is “pervasive, urgent and are people willing to pay” to solve it? This has been a great mantra that I have used again and again. Maybe there is a problem, but if it’s not painful enough, and if people won’t sacrifice $ for relief from that pain, then you might as well be back at step one, where you don’t even solve any problem at all.
  • The PM “Framework” itself was somewhat of a revelation for me, as it provided a structure for the focus areas that exist in the product management world, ranging from anyone involved in determining product strategy, to the technical execution of creating a product to the marketing of that final solution.

It’s been probably close to 8 years since I had that training and I have since moved out of product management into a strictly marketing role. However, I continue to refer to the framework and other strategies I learned in product marketing training which still help me on a day-to-day basis.

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