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Perfecting the Art of Product marketing

Product marketing is the process of bringing the product to the market. We’ve seen others define Product Marketing; HubSpot says “it's the process of bringing a product to market”, while Drift breaks it into two separate roles: “before” and “after” a product launch.

What is product marketing?

Product marketing is the process of bringing the product to the market. We’ve seen others define Product Marketing; HubSpot says “it’s the process of bringing a product to market”, while Drift breaks it into two separate roles: “before” and “after” a product launch.

Product marketers also come from diverse backgrounds, as the role typically requires a healthy mix of both creativity, problem-solving and analytical skills. In any B2B or B2C company, you might find product marketers coming from sales, demand gen marketing, project management, or customer support.

PMMs have to routinely carry out the following functions on a day-to-day basis:

  • Communicating product changes to customers and clients.
  • Balancing the team’s vision for the product and the needs of the customer.
  • Pricing strategy and product positioning strategy for the product.
  • Conducting customer interviews to get insights.

The Product Marketing process doesn’t end at the pre-launch and launch stages and is a continuous effort to promote and shape the product to meet the customers’ needs across all stages of its lifecycle.

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Product Marketing vs. Product Management: Two Distinct Roles

Product marketing leaders are responsible for communication, product positioning, and growth. Once a product is built, this individual communicates its value to the market at large, coming up with new ways to reach and engage target audiences. The product manager ensures that the product going to markets gets built on schedule and responds to market demand. Product managers and marketers also operate in extreme ambiguity and need to be self-directed in defining their roles and alleviating uncertainty. For product marketers, success depends on growth and retention. Product managers and marketers will have similar personalities—but it’s important to focus on each role’s unique strengths and value adds. Both perspectives count and are critical to the success of any B2B company.

What is the role of a product marketing manager?

Your primary goal in a Product Marketing Manager role is to create demand for products through effective messaging and marketing programs. If you do your job well, the product has a shorter sales cycle and higher revenue.

  • Product marketing managers are responsible for developing effective marketing strategies and plans to communicate the features and benefits of new products to customers.
  • Obtain insights into customers’ usage of current products, untapped opportunities, and buyer personas, through interviews, surveys, focus groups, and sales data.
  • Speak and present products to both external and internal audiences.
  • Take part in presentations.
  • Collaborate with multiple teams across the business.
  • Present new products and write engaging copy, telling the ‘story of products, for various marketing channels.
  • Analysis of data, surveys, and customer interviews to be well acquainted with these techniques.

Product Marketing Managers call on a wide range of skills and have a broad set of business and product experiences to call on. Here is a list of skills managers look for when filling a Product Marketing Manager role.

Are hard or soft skills more important?

  • Soft skills: These skills aren’t specific to a role; they relate more to your personality. Examples of soft skills are the ability to work in a team, flexibility, and dependability.
  • Hard skills: These skills often require more practice and relate directly to a role or industry. Examples of hard skills include computer programming, data analysis, and web design.

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5 skills every product marketing manager should have

  1. Collaboration

With the ability to communicate with your staff, you’ll need to actively collaborate with your team members.

  • Ask sales teams for their feedback on your leads
  • Talk to PPC departments to see how you can support their ads
  • Plan bigger-scale marketing campaigns with your content, SEO, or social media teams
  1. Writing Skills

Great products can’t stand on their own; they need product marketers with writing chops to be able to synthesize the benefits they offer and communicate those benefits effectively to the customer. Product sales rely heavily on effective messaging.

  1. A desire to help

Customers have pain points. Pain points are a key part of these documents, but you shouldn’t make them up off the top of your head. You’ll need to talk to your customers one-on-one to dig deep into the things they’re struggling with.

  1. Presentation Skills

As a product marketing manager, you’ll spend a lot of time explaining your marketing strategies to other people in the organization, including your marketing colleagues and the C-suite. The ability to be persuasive will prove beneficial in organizing a coalition to support your position and ideas.

  1. Empathy

Without empathy, you might struggle to see why your target customer needs your product. But when you consider their frustration for pens that run out of ink mid-meeting, you can convey that empathy in your product marketing campaigns to close the sale.

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What is a Benefit?

Benefits are the outcomes or results that users will (hopefully) experience by using your product or service – the very reason why a prospective customer becomes an actual customer. The promotional phase of marketing includes the use of paid advertising, public relations, and selling to communicate product benefits and value to targeted customers. This is a critical benefit of marketing because you can explain to customers through promotional messages why your brand’s product is distinct, different, and better than competitor offerings. Without promotion, you may have the best product available, but customers won’t know. Thus, developing a product concept, or understanding of your most unique product benefits, helps you sell your brand to customers. The uniqueness of a product or service can set it apart from the competition. Features can communicate the capability of a product or service. But features are only valuable if customers see those particular features as valuable. You want products or services with features that customers perceive as valuable benefits. By highlighting benefits in marketing and sales efforts, you’ll increase your sales and profits. It’s important to remember that customers buy products and services because they want to solve a problem or meet a need. Consciously or unconsciously, your customers will always be asking the question, “What’s in it for me?” Your product and service offerings have to deliver solutions and satisfy needs, or they won’t be successful.

Product marketing vs. Marketing

Marketing is a broader function responsible for communicating value to prospects. This includes content marketing, performance marketing, brand marketing, etc.

Product Marketing specializes in helping your product get adopted by the market, and of course, helping shape the product. Product marketers should be a core component of the production process and should work closely with product and product-growth teams.

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Product Manager vs. Product Marketing Manager: What’s the Difference?

Product Manager

A product manager is responsible for performing the following duties:

  • Sets the product vision and the product roadmap, including new products and new features
  • Identifies which customer pain points to target, through both user interviews and metrics
  • Articulates business value of the product
  • Documents required functionality of the product and may write out user stories or test cases
  • Ships the product alongside software engineers, designers, QA, analysts, and others in the product development team
  • Manages stakeholders of the product and aligns them to the product strategy
  • Advocates for the end-user and shapes the customer experience within the product

Product Marketing Manager

A product marketing manager is responsible for performing the following duties:

  • Identifies a coherent marketing strategy for the product
  • Conducts competitor analysis & market research
  • Shapes communication & product positioning
  • Identifies the product features to spotlight and empowers the sales team with clear value propositions
  • Explains benefits of product features via customer-facing messaging
  • Leads product demos & presentations
  • Sets up marketing campaigns for demand generation
  • Selects the appropriate pricing strategy for the product
  • Guides throughout the lifecycle of the product, ranging from minimum viable products to fully mature products

Education

Product marketers often have degrees in marketing or business administration. For leadership roles in product marketing, some companies also prefer MBAs. However, higher education is just one aspect. Many product marketers start as general marketers. This gives exposure to a specific industry and the opportunity to learn functional skills on the job.

Process management

“It’s often said that PMMs should act as the quarterbacks to a launch. A big part of this is ensuring there’s a process in place within the marketing team and with a partner, teams to make sure that everyone has the information they need and clarity on what’s expected of them to make the launch a success. If there isn’t a process in place, it’s up to the PMM to create and drive new processes to fix problems. It’s also up to PMMs to point out when a process is no longer working for your team.”

Executive presence and clear communication

“As you get more senior, you’ll spend more and more time presenting plans, public speaking, and communicating with executives in the company. Executive presence also means knowing how best to leverage an executive’s skills to get feedback that will help your project, manage their expectations, and ensure they feel like they’re in the loop about work that matters to them.”

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Know your customer

“There are two parts: First, knowing your personas. Specifically, you should be an expert in who buys your software, what their titles are, where they sit in an organization, what matters most to them, and how to market to them; and second, connecting that customer persona with actual customers who use your product. If you’re not talking to customers throughout your day-to-day, how can you represent the voice of the customer to the product team? I have OKRs (objectives and key results) for my team to have a certain number of interactions with customers each quarter to make sure that customer empathy doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. The key is getting these customer insights and then doing something with them to make sure that those insights are driving your roadmap and activities.”