What is Product Marketing?

One common challenge I’ve run into talking with many other Product Marketers is that Product Marketing is really hard to define. For a role which focuses so much on clarity and concision, this is somewhat ironic. While there are many definitions out there (while acknowledging that it will look different everywhere, this is a good baseline to start from Hubspot

Product marketing is the process of bringing a product to market. This includes deciding the products positioning and messaging, launching the product and ensuring salespeople and customers understand it. Product marketing aims to drive the demand and usage of the product.

But there are a few really good other definitions out there.

One from Drift

Product marketing is the process of bringing a product to market and overseeing its overall success. Product marketers are focused on understanding and marketing to customers. They drive demand and usage of the product, which often includes writing positioning and messaging.

One from Ada Chen

The role of the product marketer is to accelerate product growth by championing the customer, communicating product value, and driving distribution.

TLDR: All of these are good definitions, use the one that suits you best

What does a Product Marketer do?

#AllTheThings. But seriously, Product Marketers have a wide range of responsibilities and it will vary by your org and your team, but here are four areas where Product Marketers play a key role:

  • Role 1: Partner with Product on The Product Roadmap
  • Role 2: Create The Product Messaging and Positioning
  • Role 3: Execute The Go-To-Market Strategy
  • Role 4: Drive Ongoing Sales Enablement and Distribution

Role #1 Partner with Product on The Product Roadmap

Goal: Partner with product to influence roadmap based on customer insight

This is all about partnering with product management to help them build the product roadmap. Using your understanding of the customer, the business, and the persona you are targeting, you work with your PM colleagues to figure out how to build the product (or build the next version of the product) In any given product, there’s a bunch of great ideas for the roadmap, it’s your job to help PM’s identify and prioritize what should be built, for whom, and when.

Key Activities: This involves anything from:

  • Meeting with customers to solicit feedback
  • Meeting with Product and Tech Teams to prioritize the roadmap
  • Soliciting other forms of feedback on features, needs

Role #2: Create The Product Messaging & Positioning

Goal: Get everyone internally aligned about how to talk about what you’re building and contextualize the product to make customers care

Messaging and positioning is all about understanding what problem does your product solve, who does it solve it for, and how it is differentiated against other products in the market.

Positioning defines how you want your audience think about your product, while messaging is a set of specific statements crafted to establish and reinforce your positioning

When done right, messaging and positioning ensures that:

  1. How you talk about your product is done in a way that is unique and differentiated with your specific customer base
  2. your entire organization is talking about the product in a consistent, coherent and compelling manner
  3. the messaging that is then infused into all of your content and assets and discussions is striking a chord with your buyers.

Since the outputs and deliverables from messaging and positioning will be used in all of your content, assets, presentations and conversations about your product (ex: eBooks, Sales decks, website copy, PR release, etc) awareness, alignment and understanding are critical aspects of these activities.

To do this, Product Marketers partner with internal teams, such as product, engineering, and sales, to make sure that you can take what they are building to market and talk about it in a way that resonates with customers. PMMs will craft buyer personas, which dig into buyers needs, pain points, and key considerations and metrics/business drivers. From there, they’ll build messaging and positioning templates to synthesize all this feedback, and confirm that it aligns to the brand of the company, what’s actually being built, and the needs/desires of the buyer.

While the PMM is usually the one that “owns” messaging and positioning of the product, a key part of this role is synthesizing a ton of information and feedback from diverse sources (ex: customers, sales, engineering, product, external landscape, etc) and making sense of all of that to determine the messaging and positioning. (Example: See this role at Facebook for a Messaging & Positioning PMM role)

Key activities include:

  • Meeting with customers to understand their pain points and desires
  • Meeting with internal teams to understand their perspective of the product (ex: sales, engineering, product)
  • Developing messaging & positioning documents, putting together a product marketing brief
  • Pitching messaging and positioning documents to internal stakeholders for feedback

Role 3: Drive The Go-To-Market Strategy (GTM)

Goal: Launch a product to the market to accelerate growth attract customers, drive engagement, or create revenue/upsell opportunities

Go-To-Market revolves around taking the product to market and getting it into the mind and hands of customers. The most visible part of this role is a product launch, whether that’s a net new product, a new feature release, or a chance to relaunch to drive some sort of outcome (e.g. upsell, cross-sell, entry into new market)

Like many of the other responsibilities that product marketers have, Go-To-Market related roles and responsibilities are cross-functional efforts, so while Product Marketers don’t necessarily “own” this activity they are a major player and must engage with lots of other key stakeholders. This means lots of cross-functional meetings, participating and contributing to other teams’ deliverables and meetings.

As a PMM, I am a bit biased, but I think one of the key roles of the PMM in a GTM role is to not only contribute PMM’s part, but to also help everyone else they are working with understand how the whole team needs to collectively work together to deliver for their customer.

Regardless of if there is an upcoming launch, one critical component of Go-To-Market that happens with a launch but also is just ongoing is field and sales enablement. Even after a product launches, Product Marketers are there to provide customer facing teams (sales, customer success, etc) with training and content to help them sell. Furthermore, they are there to obtain feedback from sales teams and from customers about the product, and then to relay that back to Product Managers. PMMs act as sort of a bridge and liaison between product and sales. (Example: See this role at Dropbox for a PMM Go-To-Market focused role)

Activities Include:

  • Creating product launch assets (ex: launch blogpost, Press Release)
  • Participate in Cross Functional meetings leading up to launch to review status and open items
  • Meet with design and creative teams to review copy/asset creation
  • Work with a Cross-Functional team (Sales, Product, broader Marketing team) to review pipeline generation and maturation efforts, and create/build marketing programs and demand/campaign efforts that create pipeline, mature pipeline, or drive sales
  • Handle a Launch event, and/or ongoing events that drive awareness and pipeline

Role 4: Drive Ongoing Enablement and Distribution

Product marketers play a key role in making sure these products reach their customers. While launching a product is fun and exciting, this is just the beginning, as it’s time to acquire and retain customers through common key objectives such as sign-ups, upsells, conversions, engagement etc.

Sales teams, customer success managers, and account teams interface with your customer on a daily basis, so making sure that they have the proper product education, understand how to pitch the value of your product, can work a demo and handle buyer objections are really important. This is generally done through sales enablement training and through the creation of sales enablement content, such as training decks, battle cards, objection handling documents, etc.

Distribution is all about running marketing programs across all of the possible channels you have at your to get your product in front of your customer. While it would be great to use every single channel and load it up with all the content you need, there are never enough resources and time, so PMMs must be good at selecting the right channel with the right content and the right message to reach their customer.

Product Marketing looks a little different at every company, and this is certainly an area where the role of someone in this will vary depending on a number of key demographics. For example, in a more B2B focused organization this role of enablement will focus more on training and coaching sales teams to sell to customers, as well as ensuring they have the content and assets they need in order to communicate the message and value of the product. In this role, being able to work with Salespeople and Sales leaders and a good understanding of training and enablement are great skillsets to have.

 

But this role could also look different at say a B2C consumer facing company, where instead of focusing on sales enablement (Example: See this Field Activation PMM role at LinkedIn) a PMM might focus more on driving marketing campaigns and content that drives specific marketing objectives across the entire funnel. This PMM role on LinkedIn is a perfect example. In this case, having a robust understanding of digital marketing, understanding of key marketing channels, and good content marketing chops are critical or success.

Key Activities

  • Executing marketing campaigns (ex: webinars, events, social campaigns)
  • Developing and executing a content marketing strategy across the entire funnel
  • Creating Sales Enablement tools such as training decks, battle cards, and objection handling documents for Sales People
  • Running training and enablement sessions

While the day-to-day work of product marketing is varied and diverse, the focus often highlights similar outcomes/goals:

  1. Partnering with Product Management to build the product and product roadmap
  2. Creating the messaging and positioning that differentiates the product and connects it to a buyer persona and their pain point
  3. Building and Executing the GTM Strategy that empowers sellers to get your product in the hands of your customers
  4. Creating and driving enablement and distribution of your product

What Mike Tyson can teach us about navigating the career search

I was talking to someone about the randomness and luck that happens in the job search, and how sometimes things can get derailed. We can have visions and dreams of the job we want, the company that we desire, and the dream role, but sometimes making that all happen doesn’t go as planned. 

First and foremost, having a plan is a good place to start! Proactively thinking through what could happen helps you identify what work needs to be done and provides a very actionable process to follow to make progress. Please don’t stop that!
Having said that, as Mike Tyson alludes to, “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”  Sometimes things get in the way that serve as a wakeup call (or a punch in the face) Maybe your dream company doesn’t have a role for you, or maybe the alum you identified who you hoped would give you a referral didn’t respond to your e-mail –  That’s okay, it just means you have to find another path in.
To do this, draw on inspiration from Rohan Rajiv’s Concept of Plan’s A-F.  Rohan says,
The first and most important assumption I’ll make is that you know exactly what you want to do. Once you do so, construct plans A-F. This means having at least 6 routes to the destination. I say plans A-F because it is highly unlikely your plan A will work. And, as you cycle through them, it’ll become easier to move past F to other alphabets”
When you want to target a new opportunity or destination, come up with multiple routs for how you could get there. Instead of just having a Plan A, you can have a plan B, C, D, E. Having some backup options ensures that if you do happen to get punched in the face, you can get back up and find the best route forward. As an example, plan A might be simply to get your way in through a referral from a colleague, but B,C, and D might look like this:
B – Have an alum connect you to a hiring manager
C – Move across country to be there in person
D – Find other companies who still fit my criteria but are less competitive
The job search is filled with uncertainty and there will be plenty of things that are outside of your control. Having said that, thinking through a number of paths into a company helps you get creative about how you can find a way into a specific company, and helps you prioritize and understand the resources, tasks and people that you need to help you navigate the job search process.
Finally, this is a perfect reminder that there isn’t one clear path into a particular company or job opportunity. Ask 10 people who work at a company how they got their job and you probably will get many different answers.
While it would be nice if there were a magic and repeatable formula for success for finding a job, I’m confident that with patience and persistence the process will yield results. There is something to be said about learning through the journey, but I can appreciate that might not seem so rosy when you’re going through the process. The good news is that thousands of people find jobs every day, and your day will come in due time, especially if you’ve thought out a few different paths to get there.

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Using The STAR Framework: A Guide to answering any interview question

Use the STAR method to structure answers to behavioral questions

You can use the STAR interview method to prepare for behavioral interviews — a technique that helps you structure your response to behavioral interview questions. Using this method, you create a deliberate story arc that your interviewer can easily follow. Here’s how it works:

  • Situation: What is the context of your story? In setting the situation, you are telling your listener when or where this event took place. For example, “We were working on a six-month contract for a high-value client, when our agency merged with another, larger firm…”
  • Task: What was your role in this situation? For example, “It was my role to lead the transition for my group while also communicating with our client to keep the project on track.”
  • Action: What did you do? For example, “I set up weekly check-ins with the client to update them on the progress of the merger. This cemented an important level of trust between us. I also had regular one-on-ones with each person on the team, both to assess how they were handling the change and to make sure we would meet our deadlines.”
  • Result: What did your actions lead to? For example, “We ended up completing the project on time, meeting all of their specifications. It was incredibly rewarding to navigate a lot of change and succeed under pressure.”

How to prepare

Read the job description carefully. Make a list of the top skills or qualifications it calls for. Think of a story that demonstrates your ability in each area. Following the STAR technique, write your stories down, including the situation, task, action and result. Then, practice saying them out loud several times, either by yourself or with a friend. Keep in mind that your answer should only take about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. As you include each of the elements, try to be succinct.

If you’re feeling shy or lacking confidence, this practice is all the more important. You should get comfortable with these stories. Remember: you won’t be able to anticipate every behavioral question you get, but with a strong set of anecdotes, you’ll be able to answer each one with confidence.