What are key certifications or courses to become a product marketing manager?
I am not aware of any one key certification for product marketers. I work with PMMs that come from backgrounds in campaigns, sales, engineering, and product management. Each of those backgrounds lend themselves to a specific function in product marketing.
In my experience, there are three types of product marketers:
- Technical PMM
- Market Programs PMM
- Go-to-Market PMM.
An aspiring product marketer should identify their entry point into one of the aforementioned functions. If there was one skill that unites each type of PMM, it is their ability to diagnose a market, create a positioning statement, and craft messaging that is clear, concise, and relatable. This skill can be picked up in intro marketing classes undergrad, MBA, or MOOCs.
- Technical PMMs - I would look for certifications or experience in the functional area of the product. Solution Engineers are usually the perfect fit because they can create demos and deliver messaging.
- Market Programs PMMs - I would look for someone who is intimately familiar with the customer or who has experience demand generation programs. Customer marketing or campaign leads are usually a great fit because they understand the customer journey.
- GTM PMM - I would look for someone who has sales experience. Sales has no time for marketing BS. Those who were on the front lines remember what training works and what doesn't. I've also hired folks who have a teaching background because in the end, that's what sales enablement is.
I'm a little biased here, but I don't believe that there are courses or certifications that are a prerequisite or requirement to jumping into product marketing. If you haven't done any marketing before, or worked alongside a good marketing team, Pragmatic Marketing by the Pragmatic Institute is a solid framework for twisting your head around what marketing is really about.
But the best way to learn is on the job. If you have a PMM function at your current company, get to know them. Ask about what they're working on, why it's important. What are the biggest challenges they're trying to overcome. In general, we love to talk about what we're really up to - because we still carry a bit of a chip on our shoulder, feeling that most people believe marketing is just pretty decks and presentations.
If someone ever asked me to to through the messaging framework, I'd jump at the chance! Why did you talk about the last product launch this way? Prepare for a 30-minute monlogue. But you'll learn a ton. And, I bet they'll be a problem you could help with. It's truly the best way to learn, and to build some faith.
Courses, certifications, and books can definitely help transition into product marketing, but the best way to learn is by doing. I would see if there are side projects you can take on with the PMM team, in addition to self-driven learning.
For courses and certifications:
- I typically recommend the Product Marketing Alliance: https://www.productmarketingalliance.com. They have a variety of programs depending on how broad or narrow you want to go, and how much time you have.
- I've also had great experience with General Assembly (https://generalassemb.ly); depending on your location they may have relevant product marketing courses to choose from.
- There's also Pragmatic Institute (https://www.pragmaticinstitute.com/course/product/market/) but I haven't heard any feedback there.
And my 3 must-read product marketing books are:
- Obviously Awesome, by April Dunford
- Positioning, by Al Ries and Jack Trout
- Playing to Win, by A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin
I am aware of just a few
1. Pragmatic institute - I took it. However, I found that to be specific to B2B enterprise sales.
2. 280 Group: I recently found out about this institute, I am looking to connect with someone who has been to this program.
3. AIPMM: Seems to offer courses similar to Pragmatic Institute. I am looking to connect with someone who has been to this program to understand more.
Outside of these, I am looking for more engaging courses, especially where we can learn how to influence PLG in low touch product environments, and contribute to strategy comprehensively.