A product marketing manager is a marketing professional who specializes in shaping and executing the strategy surrounding a product or line of products. Like many careers, you must have a combination of education and experience to become a product marketing manager. Education can include a formal degree and/or professional training in the field. Like other management positions, this position often requires that you also have experience leading or supervising other employees.
In order to become a product marketing manager, you should fully understand the purpose of the job. Such marketers have skills that apply specifically to marketing a physical product, be it a lawnmower, a button, or a television. This position differs from service market managers, who understand the nuances of marketing intangible services, such as repair contracts or tax preparation services. It also differs from brand managers, whose job is to oversee an entire brand, and marketing communication managers, whose job is to ensure that all company communications are consistent. Product marketing managers must often, however, work with these other marketing professionals so that the product marketing strategy integrates with all other efforts of the company.
Product marketers often specialize in a certain type of industry or product for their entire careers, and that specialty often develops from experience with the product in other roles. For example, you may become a product marketing manager after having been a progressively responsible part of a team that works with a specific product. Alternatively, you might begin as part of the brand team within a personal electronics manufacturing company and be promoted to the product team for a specific device after working collaboratively on a campaign.
Other product marketers simply learn the ins and outs of product marketing very well and are able to translate those skills from industry to industry without specific experience with the product. In this case, the best way to become a product marketing manager may be to combine experience with education and to focus on the skills needed to be successful. You might also need to familiarize yourself with the industry and product before attempting to change lines, either within your company or at a new one. In either case, you will also want to develop management skills, including personnel development, scheduling, training, and mentoring.
Education is an important factor if you wish to become a product marketing manager. A formal marketing degree may be required for some jobs, and some may even require an advanced degree. In other positions, you may be able to substitute professional development classes at a private training institution for a formal degree. In either case, you should take classes critical to the field of product management, such as merchandising strategy, pricing strategy, product placement, and consumer marketing.