Transitioning to Product Management from Marketing Management

Rachel Dixon
4 min readDec 6, 2018


I’ve noticed there’s usually a breakdown in making the transition from one field to the next, though it’s practically a requirement for the Product Manager role. Most Product People did not start off this way — we were doing something else in the SDLC most likely — and most of the great PMs I know are former engineers, customer service folks, QA, designers (game and UX), UX researchers, producers, and marketing folk. If you learned to stop, collaborate, and ship it out of necessity, you might have accidentally ended up a product person. It just happens. I’m sorry but also I’m not sorry. Welcome to the wacky world of never being able to see anything that can’t be hashtag-optimized and also trying not to talk about it because hashtag-focus is important.

I know. I’m tired too.

I’m looking at some of the ways the big guys are training new product people from other fields so they can feel supported and well-equipped for the multi-headed hydra that the role can embody. In the meantime, here are some resources I sent to a woman hoping to get into product from marketing management in her next role:

Product Management Discipline Overview / What Is Product Management:
Ken Norton’s Classic How to Hire A Product Manager (be sure to click through to his follow up, ten years later)
Andreessen Horowitz : Good Product Manager / Bad Product Manager
Product Plan : The 7 Core Traits of A Good Product Manager
Product Craft : The Full Stack Product Manager Reimagined
Chart: So what do product managers actually DO?
Facebook’s VP of Product: Intentional Work (shared for the 5 questions to focus product — memorize these lines)
Andreessen — The Only Thing That Matters (Product-Market Fit)
SVPG: Behind Every Great Product

Practical/Day to Day Product Skills:
Persuasive Communications for Product Managers
A Product Manager’s Guide to Drawing on a Whiteboard
An Introduction to User Stories
User Story Mapping Overview Slides
John Cutler : Stories vs Epics
Brandon Chu : Ruthless Prioritization
SQL For Product Managers
Anatomy of a Product Brief
John Cutler : Say I Don’t Know
When NOT to Run an A/B Test (and when you should)

Working with Devs:
Paul Ford : What Is Code
Working with Software Developers
APIs for Product Managers
Writing BDD (Behavioral Driven Development) Test Cases
Getting to “Technical Enough” as a Product Manager

UX Basics:
5 Mobile App UX Patterns
Human Interface Guidelines (Apple)
Google Design (inc Material Design)
A Nerd’s Guide to Color on the Web
Create People Not Personas
Making Sense of Usability Test Results
Mapping Effective Product Discovery
HBR: Understanding Customer “Jobs to Be Done”

Systems of Thinking:
Understanding Complexity
Frictional Games : Mental Models
Product Management Mental Models for Everyone
An Introduction to Design Thinking
MTP: Design Thinking / Agile / Lean Together
Applying Brooks’ Law of Communication & Team Size (Mythical Man Month)

Organizations/Websites/NYC Meetups:
Women in Product
100 Product Managers
Department of Product
Products that Count NYC
Mind the Product / Product Tank NYC Meetup
The Product Group
Agile Experience Design (I joked 5 years ago that they just put buzzwords in their meetup so that people would go, but this group has the best talks I’ve been to in NYC!)

Courses & Conferences — Product and Tech Foundations:
Khan Academy or codeacademy to pick up new tech skills from time to time between busy periods — check out an hour of code
General Assembly (also cool — their courses can be expensive but a good framework — try the short form or online courses for a cheaper fee first)
Mind the Product Courses & Conferences
Teresa Torres’s List of Product Conferences (many opinions about product conferences, but any that have hands-on workshops will be great, and those that are in NYC are of course very easy to get to)
(please don’t spend too much money upfront if you can help it!)

User Defenders! Great for research and design tips:
100 Product Managers:

Not a marketing manager? Still hungry for more delicious product content? Here is another HUGE and more generalized list that seems to keep growing, with more info about analytics, launching, and a/b testing than I’ve included here (since most marketing functions have that on lock) : 80 Articles and Books That Will Make You A Great Product Manager

My last and only other piece of advice, is to make something with others from a cross-functional background. If you work anywhere near tech, you have a few of them within earshot. Do it on the weekend for an hour or two over coffee or mimosas. Make a fake website for your fake company. I like this one from a former colleague. Find a friend who needs a hand setting up their Shopify store, then optimize it. Write about it in a blog post. Add charts. Tell me what you’d do better next time. Ship it again.

Oops, there we go. Another product manager is born. What problems will you solve next?



Rachel Dixon

bon vivant/nihilist. product burger.