Product Management vs. Product Marketing: Who is Responsible for “In-Product” Messaging?

Recently I saw a question on LinkedIn:

Product Management or Product Marketing, who is responsible for messaging in the product to convert trial users to paying customers?

This is a great question, and is especially important for companies building SaaS applications.

Here is my opinion…

Well, before I share my opinion on who owns the “in-product” messaging, let me reiterate a thought I previously shared on this blog.

Product Management vs. Product Marketing – Two Departments or One?

I believe Product Management and Product Marketing should be just one department, rather than two separate departments. Such an arrangement offers several benefits – including making the question of this post completely unnecessary! :)

That said, I’m realistic and know that many mid-to-large companies have both departments. As a result, this question becomes very relevant, especially for companies building SaaS applications. How so?

Relevance for SaaS Product Management & Product Marketing

Many SaaS companies offer a free trial to prospective customers. This free trial is usually for a period of 14-30 days. For example, our company offers a 30-day trial for both of our SaaS applications – requirements management software and idea management software.

During the trial period, SaaS applications display/share “in-product” messaging intended to convert trial users to paying customers. This often includes educational material, “nag” screens, days left in trial, email reminders, etc.

Who Should Own “In-Product” Messaging?

When a company has two separate departments – i.e. Product Management & Product Marketing – I believe the “in-product” messaging should be owned by Product Marketing, with Product Management serving a consultant role. Here is why…

Even though the product itself is owned by Product Management, the “in-product” messaging is not really an integral part of the product. Rather, it is like any other messaging about the product – such as the website, brochure, etc. As a result, Product Marketing should have the ultimate ownership for it.

FYI: Another question that runs into similar debate is “Who owns requirements?”. While that discussion is beyond the scope of this post, I do have a related news:

Product Management and Product Marketing teams at more than 100 companies now manage their requirements using cloud-based requirements management software from Accompa. If you’d like to see whether Accompa can help your team too – check out the product tour or request free trial.

I'm your author, Michael Shrivathsan, an expert in product management with successful experience at several innovative companies in Silicon Valley, USA over the past two decades. I'm also a USPTO patent recipient. For my day job, I'm the VP of Product Management at Accompa, we make the popular requirements management software used by Product Management, Business Analysis, and related teams.

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