A local Product Marketing?

Yesterday evening I was talking with a friend – she is a sales in a well-known corporate data management software editor -no name right ;). This company is doing well, R&D is based in the states, they have sales office all around Europe and sell to large accounts with a lot of custom service.

To my surprise my friend was telling me that Europe teams had been asking for years for a Product Marketing (PM) to be based in Europe without any success. Seems the unofficial reason was this request was considered as a risk for the US based PM team – risk to loose their control over the product – hiring a subcontractor to localize the product material was good enough. They must be kidding, no? And what about these risks:

  • loosing contact with European customers by not collecting needs and evolution requests and thus opening a highway for smarter competition,
  • not taking in account the cultural specifics of European countries to fine tune sales messaging,
  • not building a caring relationship with chosen customers for beta testing,
  • not having a local resource to train your sales team and work with direct marketing.

Ok maybe this is just a communication problem: French have a tendency to take one English word for another in business: like using Product Manager instead of Product Marketing Manager. Here is the difference:

  • Product Manager: deals with product features and works with R&D -collecting, writing market requirements, following competition, driving road-maps. In short, the product manager deals with inbound tasks associated with the product development.
  • Product Marketing Manager: deals with the marketing, that is preparing the tools for the teams in charge of selling of the product. This includes many outbound tasks like writing market requirement documents, data-sheets, preparing PPTs, training sales team and also pricing and supporting local direct marketing teams.

Note:  check Wikipedia for an interesting comparison of the two profiles in high-tech companies.

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