We recently sat down with Blue Sky Partners Co-Founder & CEO, Nathan Ryan, to discuss the partnership and symbiotic nature of product management and product marketing. He offered a ton of incredible insight into how product management and product marketing teams can work together effectively.
Here’s what Ryan had to say based on his experience working both with marketing and product teams.
How do you define and discriminate between product management, marketing, and product marketing?
To see how these teams can work together, it’s a good idea to have a simple understanding of what each of them does. Ryan broke it down as such:
“Product Management is kind of like inventory. What is this thing and how does it work? What are its component pieces? If you’re a developer, or you’re developing out the schema for a product, your job is just to know what it’s made out of, how it works, how to fix it and expand on it, if it’s broken, or it needs to be added to. So, that’s product development. In my mind, marketing, in general, is how does this thing or this brand make you feel? Product Marketing specifically is, what is this thing and how will it make your life better?”
On bridging the gap between the teams
According to Ryan, it’s a bit of a dance between product management and product marketing … that sometimes leaves your engineers holding the bill.
“We’re are simultaneously trying to think about what does this thing actually do. At its core, how does it actually function? And for marketing, you want to find that balance between what is not untrue and what you can get away with saying that makes it sound a little bit better than maybe it actually is. And then you and the product team just turn around and look at the engineers and say, ‘okay guys, make it happen.’”
How can you keep both product management and product marketing happy and successful?
Ryan used his 12 years of experience working in product management, product development and product marketing to discuss this exact topic on Product Talk. Here’s the “tl;dr” answer to this question:
“I think that product marketing should learn, and can learn, that there are limits to what can be done sometimes. They should really listen and ask as many questions as they possibly can to get to the bottom of what is feasible. On the opposite side, I would just say that the biggest thing that they can and should learn from a product marketing team is that even if you can build something, that doesn’t mean that there’s a market for it. Both of those perspectives have got to be involved in every discussion so that you know what there is a market for and what can be done in order to service that market.”
About the speaker
Nathan Ryan is a serial entrepreneur, a business leader, and an organizer. He's the Co-Founder and CEO of Blue Sky Partners, which is focused on helping organizations put healthy, sustainable systems in place so they can scale. Ryan is also the Co-Founder and CEO of Good Politics, which is focused on connecting disengaged voters to the political process. He also serves on the Board of Directors at the LBJ Presidential Library’s Future Forum and on the Economic Prosperity Commission and the Ethics Review Commission for the city of Austin.
About the host
Mark has deep experience (1) bringing new B2B products to market, (2) leading early-stage sales and business development, and (3) conducting user research. He has conducted 1,200+ user interviews over the past 10+ years building and selling new products (software and hardware). Mark runs MondayKarma.com, a blog to help WashU students learn how to land their first job from alumni that have already landed theirs.