Should product marketing report into Product management or Marketing?
I personally think Product Marketing should report into Marketing with the head of the whole product marketing function reporting directly to the CMO. This is exactly how we’re organized at Zendesk and I’ve found this reporting structure seems to work well for our team. I believe it’s because even though our work sits in the middle of Marketing, Product and Sales, our greatest number of direct stakeholders and partner teams are in Marketing. At least in my experience, I find there are so many other functions in Marketing as well, like Campaigns, Performance, Content, Events, Web, Engagement, PR, Analyst Relations, etc., that being in the same direct org really helps to more easily establish alignment in our priorities and shared workstreams.
I have also worked on a Product Marketing team though where we did report into Product. I absolutely thought this created an even closer relationship with Product, than I have currently while reporting into Marketing, but in that previous role, I didn’t think we were as connected to Marketing and Sales. This also sometimes meant our work felt a bit more like a supporting role than getting to lead as much as I find we do reporting into Marketing.
There’s actually an awesome LinkedIn thread that Andy Raskin started on this exact topic that I’d highly recommend for many additional perspectives too: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/andyraskin_product-marketing-should-report-to-choose-activity-6618192771243220992-y13w/.
This is related to the question above with regards to marketing's ability to influence the roadmap. There's no right or wrong way to do this. It's a matter of the role a CEO wants marketing to play within the organization. When a product is nascent or acting as a challenger within the market, I firmly believe marketing should have a big seat at the table and really shape the vision, voice, and brand at a company.
Product Management and Product Marketing are two sides of the same coin. Organizationally there are benefits to both approaches. As a product manager, I have had product marketers on my team, and as a product marketer, I have reported into the Head of Marketing as well.
This decision is dependent on what is a bigger problem - product marketer not having a deep understand of the product due to product complexity, lack of documentation or exposure OR is it around go-to-market where product marketers aren't able to influence the brand, campaigns and sales enablement carried out by the marketing organization.
In fact, depending on the lifecycle of the product, a product marketer should to spend their time with one side of the org more at any given time. And if thay means reporting in to product initially and transitioning to marketing as the product matures, might be something for leadership teams to consider.
The more technical your product and complex your use cases, i.e. selling to enterprise customers, then PMM can report into Product. This is what we do at Zuora and other companies I’ve worked at.
The less technical the product and the less complex your use cases, i.e. selling to SMB/MM customers, then PMM can report into Marketing. This is what we did at my prior companies too.
When PMMs need to understand complex use cases and technical products they have more air to cover and it’s better to have alignment with PM's to make sure knowledge transfer happens properly and nuances are picked up. PMMs will find themselves having more questions about the product and asking PMs or SMEs to check their work and make sure they aren’t mis-stating something.
Size of the company can also dictate which group you report to -- smaller startups (series A-D) may have smaller marketing teams and PMMs will take on additional marketing areas and report into Marketing. PMMs will wear many more hats. In larger, later stage or public companies who have larger marketing resources and teams, PMM may roll into product and be more focused on core PMM activities. PMMs may also be more focused and specialized, i.e. tied to a specific product, solution or industry.
Regardless of which group you report to -- the PMM and company should decide what makes sense for them -- there has to be strong alignment to both Marketing and Product orgs. PMMs should join all cross-functional meetings with both teams and move between both seamlessly. As a PMM, I’ve always felt like a core team member of both Marketing and Product, despite which group I’ve actually reported to.
There are good arguments for either. My team is in the marketing org so I have a bias towards that structure :)
Ultimately it comes down to people and where you think PMM can have the most impact and benefit from a resourcing and influence standpoint. I don't think there's a dogmatic answer or a simple framework to decide though.
I’ve not personally sat on a product team (so I’m admittedly biased.) But I would vote for it to live in marketing. Here’s why - the essential functions of these teams are different:
- Product Team - exists to build great products
- Marketing Team - exists to communicate the value of the product to market and drive adoption
Narvar is a smaller (sub 200 employees) B2B SaaS company. This division of responsibility has been organic and feels pretty obvious.
With larger companies, it can get more nuanced. I’m intimately familiar with a large (13,000+ employees) B2C company here in silicon valley that will remain unnamed. Their structure is different. PMMs live under the Product team, and Campaign Strategy is under Marketing. What I’ve seen is they work together but often overlap and tension arises. PMMs are expected to set the strategy, craft the message, and execute the message via marketing channels to get revenue results. If the PMM is completely under Product, you don’t have the closeness needed to access those marketing channels and control your destiny. Plus, you are one step further removed from revenue, which is another argument to keeping PMM in Marketing.
Product Management should be able to clearly articulate what we are building and make it happen. Product Marketing Management should be able to clearly articulate why we have built this product and for whom. PMMs at smaller companies or Media Planners at larger companies (particularly in B2C) focus on “how” to sell it. Campaign and/or Channel Managers execute the “how”.
While there are benefits to both, judging from my experience, I believe PMM reporting into Marketing is more effective.
- Reporting into makreting creates stronger ties between PMM and the revenue organziation (marketing, sales, operations, etc.) and can therefore lead to more buy-in from those stakeholders during launch.
- Reporting into marketing positions you as a core partner in the revenue org. You have greater flexibility to "lead" the revenue org through launches and strategy shifts, while the PM can then focus more of their time on R&D (product, design, engineering, analytics, etc.). This creates a clean and powerful parternship for leading the entire business through GTM.
- Reporting into product can lead to channel conflicts, while reporting into marketing can create easier entry into core channels. For example, if PMM reports to product, you won't be as closely tied to growth or channel owners and may have more difficulty getting slotted into channel calendars. If PMM is in marketing and has a stronger relationship with growth or channel owners, it can potentially make those conversations and processes smoother.
- PMM reporting into marketing may make marketing budget more accessible. If you're in marketing, you'll be more incentivized to think in terms of marketing metrics, which naturally leads to the development stronger arguments for unlocking marketing budget. You'll also have closer ties to the owners of marketing budget as well.
This depends on the company and what it needs the role of product marketing to be. This boils down to: what gap is the company trying to fill? I'll use my role as an example, and for context, Full Circle Insights is a six year old startup with a sort of technical product aimed at enterprises/businesses. I sit in Marketing (and I would be reluctant to join a PMM team that sits under Product due to my desire to drive growth and demand gen activities). My company's main objective is to drive growth and more leads, though that's not to say that product feedback loops aren't crucial. There is just a more pressing need to align the PMM with marketing + sales. With that said, if a company had a product even more technical than ours, more complex assortment, and with many markets to align back to product, then maybe that company cares more about influencing product roadmap (and thus, sits the PMM role under Product).
I have been in marketing and product org -- both places and see pros and cons for both. It all depends on the strength of the PM team and their skills.
> If PM team is strong enough to own end-to-end product responsibilities including how to build for new verticals etc, -- then PMM under marketing would well. This gives lots of advantages as highlight above by others - budget, go-to-market, campaign alignment. The normal human behavior of "being in the same tribe" :-). also because most marketing organizations are dominated by women.....
> If PM team is however not strong especially on the outbound strategy, market analysis, customer segmentation etc -- ie. they are more user design and engineering folks - then there will be a big gap. PMM reporting to product org where they own this analytical piece can be a huge help. But then it results in hand-off issues with campaign team, access to budget, clarity on owning the go-to-market channels and decisions around them. Campaign team - if in-experienced - can end up dumping / putting more work PMM -- its a complete disaster for PMM team in such a scenario. Kind of being in a lose-lose situation. I have seen this as well.
So my idea recommendation is that PM, PMM and Marketing leader - understand what kind of skills is needed for a end-to-end successful growth of the product and marketing efforts. You could potentially have specific PMM leader/person in or aligned to the PM organization to fill the gap in the PM org, and other PMMs focused on the outbound. Basically someone has to do the strategic effort, else marketing will be quite wasteful and there will be big gaps in sales enablement as well.
This reminds me of the classic "SDR team in sales or marketing" debate. The answer is that it can work in either place and really doesn't matter as long as PMM and the rest of marketing are communicating and working together effectively. If that's not happening, you have a much bigger issue that no org chart can fix.
I've reported into both in my career and the best I can come up with is "it depends". As an overall philosophy, I would generally prefer to report into marketing, because it creates the right level of healthy conflict between the CMO and CPO (Chief Product Officer or SVP Product) that you need in order to develop a good product strategy and go-to-market in tandem. Reporting into product often means you end up just as a support function to product managers and cannot influence strategy. PMs throw items over the wall and see PMMs primarily as launch managers and wonder why they're not "making enough noise". The other advantage of reporting into marketing is that you have significantly more resources and can influence the direction of campaigns.
That said, if your marketing organization is dysfunctional and/or not held accountable to revenue/pipeline generation (which does happen a lot, to be honest), then it's going to be a bad time. The other issue in reporting to a marketing organization is that the KPIs of PMM get skewed away from product & feature adoption/usage and towards pipeline.
I firmly believe that Product Marketing should report into the Marketing org for one central reason: PMM is a communications-driven role requiring the ability to effectively craft and convey messages across all mediums. While we need to have a strong understanding of our customers, what problems they're trying to solve and how our products (and our competitors' products) attempt to solve those problems down to considerable technical depth, our job isn't to prioritize backlog, create user stories - the core stuff PMs do. We have to effectively transform our technical understanding into clear, concise content at every altitude (from a pitch for business press to a detailed practitioner demo script). I believe we have to maintain equal partnerships with Product/PM, Sales (programmatic sales enablement as well as rank-and-file AEs) and the rest of marketing. Even at the most "technical products for technical users" companies where I've been (New Relic, Splunk, Microsoft Azure / dev platform) conflating PMM with Product was always bad news - it's a GTM function, not a factory function.
A Product Marketing Manager’s position varies depending on the company. However, you will find yourself from time to time working very closely together with the PM and count yourselves as part of the team. So depending on the situation, company organization, and phase you are at it will be advisable to report to the PM, the CMO, or Head of Marketing.
Based on some research we did (admittendly small sample size), we found that 2/3 report to CMO / VP Marketing and only ~10% to Product.
At this stage unfortunately there isn't enough executive ownership of the Product Marketing function, but in future I hope it reports to either VP of Product Marketing or VP Product. This is because Product is now becoming about growth and needs to have a cross-functional team which includes marketing.
Our folks at Reforge (that run growth courses) lay out the future of Growth teams fairly well here.
I believe it should always report to Marketing as the role directly links with messaging, personas, and understanding customers and all these things come into marketing. This is exactly how we are designed at Metric and we have a separate product team and a separate marketing team, as a PMM I closely work with all departments but report into marketing.
It can work in many places, but I find it to be the most effective if it is either within Marketing or on its own entirely so that marketing is properly on message. I often draw a venn diagram of product marketing. Product marketing has changed dramatically since the days when the Pragmatic framework was the be-all and end-all of a product organization. At the end of the day, product marketing inspires marketing, enables sales and influences product.