What should you be mandatorily doing as a Product Marketer? Answer: Just 5 things.
A product marketer, usually, is the only consumer-facing aspect of your marketing team. Reason being, “talking to customers” is at the center of almost everything that their job description entails. Be it, deciding on the positioning of the product, or preparing the Go-to-market strategy or defining messaging, it’s just not possible to arrive at the right answers without talking to customers.
And that’s something most of the so-called customer-facing/ customer-first/ customer-obsessed companies don’t usually have an institutionalized process for.
Now that’s a problem!
Because, in your Product Marketing interviews, you’ll be quizzed on things such as, “how did you come up with that hypothesis” or “how did you validate your assumption regarding XYZ”. And when you don’t back that up with proper consumer research, it doesn’t bode well for you regarding how well you know what you know.
Coming to the larger Product Marketing (PMM) role, it can be divided into 3 phases,
- First, deciding a soon-to-be-released product’s positioning and messaging.
- Second, launching the product and making sure users (in B2C) or both users and salespeople (in B2B) understand its value.
- Third, drive demand and usage of the product.
But experts agree that Product Marketing is arguably the least understood role today. And there are three super solid reasons behind that,
- Product Marketing’s sexier cousin, Product Management, has hogged all the limelight. This creates an awareness problem regarding the role which further trickles down to not many people exploring it as a career option. This, in turn, creates a serious dearth of resources and people talking about Product Marketing, giving rise to a catch-22 situation.
- Most companies do not know what Product Marketing should be tasked with or even the skills that they should look for in PMMs. Talk to any entry to mid-seniority level PMM, and you’ll find them doing all the obnoxious and irrelevant things there are, eventually affecting their career progression.
- Finally, you won’t find a lot of companies hiring for PMM roles. As a result, newbie PMMs do not question the authenticity of these roles and happily agree to do anything under the garb of a “product-sy role”. This lack of understanding compounds the dearth of good PMMs that are there today — something, almost everyone has agreed to, during my interviews with senior leaders as well as generic Product Marketing related conversations.
For example, at your current organization, you don’t support sales with their content needs, such as sales decks or other objection-handling insights. Now, this is a very important PMM responsibility, on the Sales Enablement side, and most of the companies look for this as a core competency. But lack of experience in this means they’ll need to hire another person for this, often, a Sales Enablement professional — an unnecessary added cost. This might make you a comparatively less desirable candidate.
Hence, DO NOT compromise on what, as a PMM, your roles and responsibilities should be!!
Now, for getting into Product Marketing, you need to be really good at 2 things,
While you can easily figure out whether you’re good at the first one, it’s the second one where things get a little trickier. Reason being,
Every responsibility of a Product Marketer is supposed to move the needle in some way. And so your underlying research needs to be consistently good enough to be able to unpack the important insights that you and the different teams can use, so as to drive this needle forward.
You’d be willing to put in the time and efforts to come up with the precise ways on what really resonates with your users, is there a market for you, how they perceive products in your category and what would make them explore you as a viable solution. While in your PMM interviews, they might not directly quiz you on this, but through other questions, they’ll try to get a sense of your research process.
A common question in this regard is, “Which product do you think is badly marketed or could do with a messaging revamp and why?”
Also, there are multiple ways in which your efficacy as a Product Marketer can be and is evaluated. And it can actually get murky because, unlike other marketing or product roles, the feedback here not only comes from customers “directly” but also via different teams — sales, success, and even engineering (I’ll give you a real-life example for this at the end).
Now, before we have a look at the 5 core responsibilities, remember one thing,
If in your current organization, you’re not getting to do any of the following activities, either convince them, switch, or never dream of taking up the reins of Product Marketing at the world’s topmost companies. Because either directly or indirectly, in your PMM interviews, YOU WILL BE JUDGED ON MOST IF NOT ALL OF THE FOLLOWING!!
So, shall we?
- Product Positioning & Messaging
In simple barebones terms, it’s what language you use to communicate the value proposition of your product (messaging) and the perception you wish to create in your users’ eyes (positioning) about it. Basically, what do you want someone to remember about your product when they hear about it.
A positioning example is, suppose you’re required to market a chatbot, which essentially puts it in the category of “Messenger Platforms”. But you can position it differently as, Business Messenger for BFSI or no-code conversational messaging platform. One of the most popular companies of today, Superhuman — an ESP basically, has positioned their product as, “Superhuman is the fastest email experience ever made.”
- Go-to-market (GTM) Strategy
GTM strategy or launch plan is getting your finished product to the market and then deciding on a template of telling people about it. This strategy includes a lot of moving parts such as positioning statement, ideal customer profile (ICP), use cases, launch objectives, why is the product needed, launch KPIs, etc. An in-depth understanding of the product, the market and building awareness is required to ace this.
- Competitive & Market Intelligence
These refer to understanding the competition and the scope of your product in the market. You’d always want your product to stand out for which you’ll need to know how your competitors have differentiated their offerings — competitive intelligence. And you’d also want to know how big is the market and how large is the potential for selling your product-market intelligence. This ultimately feeds into all the other responsibilities.
- Sales Enablement
This one is about supporting your sales team with their content needs (ppts, battle cards, customer one-pagers, etc) and intel geared towards closing more deals. And unlike the rest of the activities, there are tools available to tangibly evaluate how great are you at enabling your sales team. Additionally, you’d also be expected to run internal demos and surveys for all the new product & feature launches for the entire company.
- Demand Generation
A broader activity under which you’ll be expected to take various marketing initiatives and design campaigns/ programs to spread awareness about the product and generate interest in your offerings, in essence, drive adoption of your product. Since you’re the one who provided the intel and helped design the product, you’d be expected to get people to use it as well, including the existing ones.
Apart from these, as a product expert, you’ll be expected to pitch in whenever there’s a need to talk about the product (be it via a content piece or at an event), understand user sentiment (via user interviews) and spread awareness about its benefits. These might include making landing pages, writing product emails, conducting user surveys, etc.
But let me be clear that it’s not product evangelism. That’s not your job! Rather, it’s about presenting your product in a way it makes sense to satiate preemptive queries. Researching and creating landing pages and conducting user interviews are two of the primary tasks that fall under this.
In addition to that, depending on the maturity and size of your business, you might also be tasked (either partially or entirely) with
lifecycle marketing, content marketing, pricing strategies, beta testing and even acting as a spokesperson for the company participating in PR and other events.
And while these are not the core roles of Product Marketing, they can help you with immense exposure to the adjoining parts of the larger product functions of a company, as long as those are not the only things you’re doing in the name of Product Marketing.
So there you have it — what you need to be working on, as part of your Product Marketing role. And if you wish to learn about Product Marketing, the following 4 are your best friends.
- Product Marketing Alliance — Get yourself signed up on the PMA Slack group — the best community for PMMs. They also produce great content.
- Sharebird — The AMA juggernaut. These guys bring PMM leaders from all over the world to answer questions from the community.
- Product Marketing Community — They regularly publish articles and do webinars with PMM leaders.
- Podcasts/ Video series: The Product Marketing Experts, Women in Product Marketing, Thrills & Chills, The Essential Go-to-Market, Adventures in Messaging, Behind the Scenes: Consumer Product Marketing and Getting to Market
P.S. Regarding the engineering feedback, one of the product marketing teams I was working with mentioned a feature on a product page that wasn’t yet there in the product. A customer somehow noticed that and raised a request for the feature. The engineering team, without it being in the product roadmap, had to build the feature inside the product, almost overnight!!