How to go back from PMM to PM?

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Mojoman

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Jul 25, 2018 16 Comments

I started out in PM - mainly 3 years in the legacy infrastructure companies, then went to SaaS product marketing and then continued down the product marketing path in the integration, API, and analytics space. Rose to a Director level of PMM (with 1 direct report) making $185K, $20K bonuses, etc (TC came to about $250K). So 8 yrs of PMM basically. And 2 years of engineering work well before I became a PM. I’m pretty technical (can talk about JSON, Spark, Kafka, Docker, Kubernetes, databases) because my audience has been IT, but not so technical that I can understand code. Can I ever go back to being a PM? I don’t want to take a pay cut though. What level of PM could I get? Could I get a Director of PM position (as an individual contributor)?

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  • Expedia Blinkey
    What's PMM??
    Jul 25, 2018 3
    • New / Mktg
      Mojoman

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      PMM = product marketing manager. Focuses mainly on outbound marketing activities, product positioning, messaging, and sales enablement. Sometimes focuses on pricing as well. I can see by your question that you obviously don’t know much about product marketing, or don’t think too highly of it, or it’s not too important to you. This is part of the reason why am thinking of switching to PM.
      Jul 25, 2018
    • Expedia Blinkey
      Hmmm did not expect so much post mortem for a simple question! Good luck 👍 Seems like you answered your own question here!
      Jul 25, 2018
    • New / Mktg
      Mojoman

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      Well but the question is now that you know what a PMM does, do you think I could go back to being a PM? Also , how much would a senior PM make? I’m going to guess that product management pays more than product marketing?
      Jul 25, 2018
  • New Zardosa
    3 years of PM and 8 years of PMM will likely land you somewhere in the Sr PM and at best Principal PM. Why not switch internal? May be able to make a lateral move
    Jul 25, 2018 1
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      Mojoman

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      I left to do my own consulting. Some of the clients I work for I collect use cases for and prioritize, others I write technical blog posts. How much do you think I could make as a senior PM or principal PM? What’s the salary range like?
      Jul 25, 2018
  • Sirius XM WrbAjk7
    Apply for roles internally or externally at your current level or downlevel yourself if you want to be IC. At a lot of companies, PM wears the PMM hat too, so your current role is still relevant. If not, there is so much bleed over of responsibilities between PM and PMM, company to company, that your current role is relevant regardless.
    Jul 25, 2018 9
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      Mojoman

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      Ah but here’s the thing. I don’t think that PMM is relevant anymore in my field (analytics, BI, Big Data, Cloud Infrastructure). PM has taken pricing, Sales always has their own enablement team once they hit a certain size, demand generation claims credit for all the leads they bring in three webinars, and content marketing falls under PR/AR. So the role of a PMM is massively undercut and ignored. Whereas at least as a Pm. you are seen as the go to guy for a product. What’s left to do once all these roles take a bite out of PMM?
      Jul 25, 2018
    • Sirius XM WrbAjk7
      That’s not the case at every company, so if I were in your shoes I would play up my experience and just go find a different company that either valued PMM or had no idea I had been undercut to that extent at my past role and try to not let it happen again.
      Jul 25, 2018
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      Mojoman

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      I’ve been at several companies in the integration, analytics, and BI space and it’s the same story. PMM has a lack of metrics. In a marketing department, there’s Demand Generation who gets measured on Marketing Qualified Leads, PR which is measured on social media impressions and SOV (share of voice), online marketing which is measured by SEO/SEM effectiveness. And product marketing? There’s no measurement metrics at all. At least none that any executive can agree upon. And as a result, Product marketing suffers from any visibility, or importance. Product marketing never gets any budget (in the marketing department it gets given to demand generation primarily, and then the other functions). At least with product management you get measured based on how often you ship, how widely your product is adopted, and how much revenue it drives, despite the fact that you may have had very little to do with all three. In other words, there is consensus amongst the executive suite.
      Jul 25, 2018
    • Sirius XM WrbAjk7
      So you’re saying that PM may not be the sole driver of what they are measured against... it’s sort of the same thing that Demand Generation, PR, and Online Marketing are not the sole drivers of their metrics. Less leads would be qualified, there would be no viral aspect to PR’s social media efforts, few would click any of online marketing’s links if the product sucked or the messaging to drive growth sucked. When I was doing PMM part of my role was understanding the customer and using that understanding to feed customer need into PM so I could work with them on how that shaped the product. In parallel, I was also helping marcomm and PR shape the message to the customer so the need expressed by the customer was broadcast in a way that landed more customers. Maybe the role definition of PMM has shifted since then but you should be able to tie your work directly back to increased product growth on both sides... “this got built because of this information I provided” and “we tested these different forms of messaging based on how I understood customer need and here’s how I helped us win” should be your measurements for success. Just because other departments also have a stake in the success of those metrics doesn’t mean you can’t be a driving force in improving them.
      Jul 26, 2018
    • New / Mktg
      Mojoman

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      Like I said though, the PM communicating with the customer and communicating to the PM is disintermediated. The PM decides to be the interface
      Jul 26, 2018
    • Sirius XM WrbAjk7
      Don’t let the PM cut you out. Go with them or do it separately.
      Jul 26, 2018
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      Mojoman

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      Mojomanmore
      Easy to say, tough to do. In cloud and analytics startups where the buyer is technical, PM has a lot of clout. They are the favorites of CEOs, especially CEOs from product backgrounds.
      Jul 26, 2018
    • Sirius XM WrbAjk7
      Making coworkers aware of the value you can bring to a process and why you exist there is a necessity. Collaboration is usually an effective way but if they’re just being dicks about it, going around them, doing it without them, and then showing the results is the alternative to try to get them more aligned to working with you in a way that isn’t dysfunctional.
      Jul 26, 2018
    • New / Mktg
      Mojoman

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      Mojomanmore
      Except that they are the operational engine. I can’t run webinars without Demand Generation putting things on a calendar and approving the Marketo workflow. I can’t run enablement without Sales Enablement okaying it. Hard to get around. It’s a cultural problem and the blockers have Control of the systems. Good thing I got out.
      Jul 26, 2018

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