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How to Become a Product Marketing Manager (PMM) in 2024

Dying to become a product marketing manager (PMM)? Learn how in our surprisingly simple guide (land your dream product marketing job in just seven steps).

For most careers, figuring out how to land a job in your chosen field is pretty simple.

Want to be an accountant? Study accounting. Want to be a doctor? Study medicine. Want to work at McDonald’s? Study fine arts.

But what do you do if you want to get into product marketing, and is product marketing a good career?

There’s no such thing as a Bachelor's in Product Marketing, and getting an MBA seems overkill (and only tangentially relevant).

We can help you learn how to become a product marketing manager. Keep reading our guide to carving out a career in product marketing management.

What does a product marketing manager do? 

The product marketing manager (PMM) has a broad set of responsibilities, but their main job is to make products commercially successful.

Many make the mistake of thinking that PMMs just do marketing activities like messaging and positioning.

Yes, these are core responsibilities, but a good product marketing manager goes further and actually steers the entire GTM ship.

They’ll dive into market and competitive research, analyze user data and customer behavior, own and maintain the product roadmap, develop pricing strategies, and conduct customer interviews.

The role of product marketing

As a manager, they also head up and manage the product team, leading designers, engineers, and project managers. They also collaborate with business leaders across marketing, sales, support, success, and the C-Suite.

No pressure, right?

What education or experience does a PMM need? 

We hate answers like “it depends” as much as you do, but the truth is that there are no hard and fast rules for education when it comes to product marketing management.

This isn’t a field like accounting or medicine, where you need a specific degree in the right field to get the job.

To be honest, most companies today will value relevant experience and skills, as well as demonstrable previous success, over education.

That said, experience is still relevant, and it's a great starting point for those who don’t have any workplace experience.

You can go out and get a degree in product marketing specifically if that interests you. Still, most recruiters will just look for a Bachelor’s degree in a broad field like marketing, business, or communications.

Other less common but still tangentially relevant fields include psychology and economics, especially behavioral economics (which is kind of in the middle of economics and psychology). 

These could be a good career in product marketing that would differentiate you as a candidate and help you stand out against a sea of MBAs.

Speaking of MBAs (which is a Master of Business Administration, by the way), they can be a good broad educational path to follow, but they are far from a requirement for a PMM role and certainly aren’t going to help you stand out when you apply for gigs.

Our advice?

Get a Bachelor’s degree in a broadly related field, if you can, depending on where you’re at in your career.

For example, if you’re leaving high school now and looking at study paths at college, and it's within your means financially to pursue a degree, go for it.

If, on the other hand, you’re in your 40s and looking for a career change, don’t go thinking, “Well, I can’t get this job if I don’t go back to college.”

In that case (or if you just plain old don’t want to study), you’re better off looking for relevant jobs to get some specific, hands-on, real-life experience. Here are a few good examples:

  • Sales or sales support jobs
  • Marketing and communications position
  • Research roles 

What skills are important in product marketing management? 

We mentioned that many employers value skills over education. 

So, what skills do you need to be a successful PMM?

6 important skills for product marketing managers

Strategic thinking and planning 

The number one skill for PMMs is the ability to think and plan strategically.

You’ll need to plan out product roadmaps, design effective product launches and go-to-market strategies, and figure out how to go head-to-head with competitors.

All of this requires a strong head for strategic thinking.

Analytics skills 

Analysis goes hand in hand with strategic thinking.

In order for your strategies and plans to be effective, they need to be grounded in data. 

  • User behavior data
  • Customer interview data
  • State of the market data 

It's all information that you’ll use to inform strategic thinking.

Are you comfortable wading through numbers to find the story behind the data?

Communication skills 

PMMs need to be adept at communication, not only in the context of external marketing but in terms of internal comms.

Good PMMs must market internally, help GTM team members like salespeople get on board with positioning and messaging, align and motivate the broader product marketing team, and sell product changes to their leadership team.

All of that requires effective communication skills.

Empathy 

Empathy is perhaps one of the most important soft skills a good product marketing manager brings to the table.

It's not just about being kind to others, as most seem to use the term these days.

Empathy allows a PMMs to put themselves in the customer's shoes to understand their challenges and the emotions these challenges create.

This is critical for activities like creating useful user personas that inform content creation.

Adaptability and agility 

Good PMMs are great at planning, but they can also go back to the drawing board, make changes based on new information, and know when to scrap the thing.

Success as a product marketing manager means you need to be able to adapt to market changes, such as adjusting your pricing strategy when new competitive pricing intelligence tells you that you’re no longer an affordable option for your target market.

Project management/task management 

Finally, product managers need to have a decent set of project and task management skills.

This includes using project management software and planning tools, knowing how to delegate work across a team of product marketers, and being comfortable holding project team members accountable to their timelines.

How to become a product marketing manager 

Decided that you want to become a PMM?

Follow these seven steps to land your dream job.

How to become a product marketing manager

1. Consider investing in relevant education 

Your first step is to figure out whether you’re going to study something related to product management or just jump straight into the job market.

Here’s a quick guide for deciding whether or not to invest in education:

  1. Do you already have relevant experience you could apply to a PMM job? If so, skip the study.
  2. Do you have time to pursue education? Think in terms of your day-to-day (can you manage study alongside work?) and the long-term (can you commit three years to a degree?) If not, don’t stress. Focus on developing skills and experience.
  3. Do you have the financial ability to get a degree? There’s no point in taking on debt or stressing yourself financially when other ways exist to get a foot in the door. If you can afford it, go for it. If not, focus on skills.
  4. Does further education actually interest you? If you love learning and studying, great! But it's not for everyone, and it is a waste of time and money to invest in months or even years of education that you don’t enjoy.

Decided that pursuing relevant study is the right track for you? Check out our guide on product marketing management education: Best courses for PM and PMM.

2. Start building your network 

Like many fields, succeeding in product is not just about what you know; it's about who you know.

Sure, it might not be as closed-in and nepotistic as other fields, but having a good network can help you find opportunities.

Jump on your social media platform of choice and start networking and engaging with existing product marketing managers, designers, engineers, founders, and thought leaders.

Ask questions. Engage in social media threads. Respond to posts and polls.

Use your networking time as a chance to develop connections — which could get you a foot in the door later on — and as a free learning opportunity.

3. Get some experience in a relevant field 

Now, you want to start building up some relevant experience.

Sure, you might not be ready for a product marketing manager role right now, but there are plenty of positions in the wider GTM team that can cross over into success as a PMM.

For example, look at an entry-level marketing role, a sales support job, or an administrative or research position on a product operations team.

4. Ask to take on additional responsibilities 

Once you’ve got yourself into a real-life job, whatever that job may be, tell your boss you’re keen to take on additional responsibilities.

For instance, if you’re a marketing assistant, you might look to assist with audience research, data analysis, or support in creating collateral for the product marketing team.

Tell your boss your objective is to become a PMM — leaders love an ambitious employee with tangible career goals. Let them know you’re open to additional training and responsibilities and are interested in exposure to other business units to expand your skills and knowledge. 

5. Get your resume ready for a career in product marketing 

These last three steps are about actually applying for jobs.

Before you look at putting your name forward for a given gig, you’ll need to get your resume ready.

Product marketing manager resume

Your resume is a one-pager that gives recruiters an overview of what you bring to the table and why they should hire you.

The main sections you’ll usually include in a resume — other than your name and contact details — are:

  • Work experience: the jobs you’ve held before and your responsibilities within them
  • Education: relevant qualifications you hold
  • Skills: the specific attributes you have that you think position you well for the job

The order these sections come in depends on what your strengths are.

If you’ve recently graduated and have much more education than experience, you’ll want to bring that to the top of the page and give it more space.

If you have no education but plenty of relevant jobs, you’ll give your work history more attention and dig into your transferable skills.

6. Do a bit of interview prep 

Any job you apply for will put you through at least one interview, so it's smart to get prepped first.

Check out our blog on that exact topic: Product Marketing Interview Questions and Answers for 2024.

Rehearse some answers to these questions so you don’t get caught off guard while in the room (or on the video call).

Consider what objections hiring managers might have to choosing you, and practice how you’ll handle them. For instance, if you don’t have direct experience as PMM, this will probably be raised.

Ask yourself:

What makes me a competitive candidate despite your lack of relevant experience?

7. Start applying 

The final step is easy: apply for jobs!

A quick tip here: 

Customize your resume to the specific gig you’re applying for. 

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time, but look for keywords or phrases used in the job ad, identify the specific skills or experience they ask for, and make sure to speak to these in your application.

Got what it takes to learn how to become a product marketing manager? 

Product marketing management is one of the most important roles in any company whose commercial success rests on selling a product, physical or virtual.

As a PMM, you’ll need to have a good head for project management, be great at strategic thinking and planning, and empathize with your customers.

You’ll also need to be on top of your game when using product management software like Ignition, and know how to work as part of a broader product team.

Wondering who else you’ll be working with? Learn more about Product Teams: Roles, Types, and Common Structures.

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