Ask the Expert: Product Marketing Reporting Structures

By Rich Nutinsky August 01, 2009

Should the role of Product Marketing Manager report to the Product Management department or the Marketing department? What are the advantages/disadvantages of either approach?

These are good questions that don’t have a single answer.

Organizational structure can be adapted to suit multiple purposes and many factors can be considered when determining which, if any, specific structure is best. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of the options you outlined.
In many organizations, Product Marketing (PMM) owns the outbound marketing functions of the enterprise. In many cases, this closely aligns with the Marketing group’s focus, and it makes great sense that PMM be part of the larger Marketing organization.

Many PMM resources are closely aligned in both temperament and background to other marketers throughout the organization. In fact, in some organizations, the entire Product Management role is aligned with, and a part of, the marketing organization. After all, owning the responsibility of market expertise is, at its core, a marketing function. The alignment challenge is the tendency to lose focus on the role of PMM in terms of bringing the market messages to the external world. If the marketing group decides to utilize the PMM resources to primarily support the Marketing communications role—developing collateral content, lead generation programs, and the like—the gap left in the strategic role of product management is significant.

If you are fortunate enough to have a Product Management organization that is separate from the Product Marketing group, then assigning all aspects of both inbound and outbound marketing of products to the PMM resources may be the better choice. This allows for leveraging the market data gathered by the product managers with the PMM group, as well as their participation in market sensing activities and information gathering. The down side of this arrangement is the somewhat fractured relationship with all of the outbound marketing needs of your company.

As long as this reporting structure doesn’t adversely affect the working relationship of the PMM resources and Marcom group, then this may be the preferred route.

The most important factor is that regardless of reporting structure, you should assign an owner to all of the activities on the Pragmatic Institute Framework and ensure those activities are adequately staffed, produce artifacts and deliverables necessary for effective marketing program and field training support, buyer persona development, and a repeatable sales process.

I would also add that either of these alternatives is vastly better than having your PMM resources report to Development or Sales.

 

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Categories: Roles & Activities Leadership Go-to-Market
Rich Nutinsky

Rich Nutinsky

Rich Nutinsky is a master instructor at Pragmatic Institute, with more than 20 years of experience in the software industry. He has launched several successful software products using the Pragmatic Institute Framework. Prior to joining Pragmatic Institute, Rich served in various management and product management positions for companies including Arasys Technologies, where he was vice president of product management and development. He has provided consulting services to market leaders such as Microsoft, AT&T, DuPont, NEC, GE and Siemens, working with senior-level executives to improve their product strategy, product management and marketing processes. He may be reached at rnutinsky@pragmaticmarketing.com.

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