Name: Michael Manning
Location: Irvine, CA
Title: Senior Product Marketing Manager
Education: BA in Political Science, and MBA in Marketing – both from UC Irvine
Social handles: LinkedIn, Twitter
Tell us about your path into the tech world and your product marketing role.
I’ve been a B2B marketer my entire career. I landed in technology about six years ago at an innovative marketing agency where they were doing some cool stuff with augmented reality, 3D printing, and social media. It was inspiring and eye-opening. Technology has been able to keep my attention and passion more than anything. I moved from a technology services marketing role into product management, sales enablement, and marketing about four years ago working for the talented Holly Noah.
How did you know product marketing was for you?
I knew product marketing was for me when I realized how I’d be able to get both analytical and creative; both strategic as well as detailed. I enjoy exploring what’s possible with software. Generating new messaging, speaking with customers, doing competitive research, having a hand in the pricing strategy, and ultimately driving the creation and promotion of some cool, new stuff is exciting.
How did you learn about product marketing and gain specific skills?
The Pragmatic Marketing courses are invaluable – they give you a great baseline framework on how the product marketing, product management, and sales functions can work together better. I would also recommend spending time learning from fellow product marketers online (the Product Marketing Summit). And finally, learn by doing: get more involved with your team, dig into project management, writing, analysis, etc. — anything to expand your knowledge of the product and the market.
How would you describe product marketing? To a peer? To your parents?
I often say that I help my company understand the problems that people are trying to solve, promote our products and educate current and prospective customers on how our products can help them. And if that’s too abstract, I describe the tactics used, like comms, sales enablement, research, etc.
In your words, how is product marketing different from product management or traditional marketing?
I think there should be a good deal of overlap – product marketing and product management should work in lock-step with each other. Product management is often more focused on the users, requirements, and technology, whereas product marketing is more aligned with buyers, messaging and “the market.”
Tell us about your current role as a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Neudesic
Product marketing at Neudesic keeps me on my feet: I’m involved a ton in our 3 product groups and supporting the company’s product owners- including messaging, conducting research and managing go-to-market programs. I also manage demand generation, PR/AR, and product launches and releases too – so there is never a dull moment!
What challenges are you currently facing as a product marketer in your current role?
I lead product marketing at a technology services and solutions company. A lot of the company’s focus is devoted to promoting the breadth and depth of our service offerings. I find that, at times, my team operates like a startup within the larger company. As a result, we find ourselves operating fairly independently.
What’s a particularly fulfilling project you’ve worked on?
I aligned a product more toward a particular vertical which included a complete rebranding and repositioning, which led to about a 70% increase in year-over-year sales and garnering some great awareness in the market. It was lots of work and lots of fun.
What’s your secret to staying productive?
I used to think that multitasking was the best way to get a bunch done. I no longer think that’s the case. I have spent the past couple years trying to focus more on one major item at a time (wherever possible) and moving on. Also, starting my day with the hardest thing is something that has paid-off as well.
What’s your favorite recent read?
What’s your advice to someone interested in breaking into product marketing?
There are so many aspects to product marketing; I would say to take on as much as you can and learn quickly. It can’t be done alone, which is why it’s important to find internal and external experts who can help you too.
Why do you think product marketing is an important function?
As cliché as it sounds, people won’t buy a product, if they don’t know about it, or if they don’t understand what it does, the problems it solves and perhaps, more importantly, how it can improve their lives or their business.
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