In today’s market, it’s more important than ever to have a team solely dedicated to understanding market and buyer needs and using that knowledge to ensure your company executes compelling marketing and sales strategies.
That’s why it’s crucial for you to define and incorporate a Product Marketing role into your organization. In this second post in a two-part guest series, product management expert Saeed Khan builds off of “Part I: Defining Product Marketing” by offering his tips for successfully implementing Product Marketing and hiring for the role.
How to implement Product Marketing in your company
As mentioned in Part I of this series, Product Marketing is a part of overall Product Management, but with the primary goal of understanding the market and buyer (their needs, alternatives, buying process, etc.) in relation to the company’s products and services.
Along with developing an understanding of the buyer, Product Marketing needs to utilize knowledge of the market, product, product strategy, and competition to enable the Marketing and Sales organizations to execute optimally in activities related to the product.
From a deliverables perspective, what this usually means is developing documents defining positioning, messaging, competitive differentiation, and go-to-market strategy, and ensuring Senior Management is aligned with these.
On a more tactical level, Product Marketing is also usually tasked with working with internal teams to ensure readiness and conducting successful product launches. This includes sales and marketing enablement – i.e. training and educating these teams on the go-to-market, positioning, messaging, differentiation etc. And finally, particularly in smaller companies, Product Marketing often creates data sheets, white papers, web site copy, and other collateral.
I can’t reiterate enough, however, that although this collateral and some of the tactical activities may be the most visible deliverables Product Marketing produces, they are not the primary focus. The strategic work – positioning, messaging, understanding the buyer and market dynamics etc. – is the foundation for virtually all other activities. Once defined, it can support other groups such as corporate marketing in creating consistent, highly effective collateral.
When to hire a Product Marketer
For a young company, every new hire is critical. There’s often no shortage of needs to fill, so it’s common that formal product marketing headcount is typically added when a company reaches an inflection point.
Unfortunately, that inflection point is usually reached because some person or small team – either product management or marketing – becomes so overloaded they can’t scale. The Product Marketer is then hired to “take some of the load” off that group.
This is the wrong way to hire, because immediately the Product Marketer will be defined by the responsibilities and deliverables handed off to him or her by the overloaded team.
Instead — going back to the Engineering/QA example — think of Product Marketing as a role to help both Product Management and the company scale. That way, the reason to hire is not simply to reduce the burden of another team, but to bring a better understanding of the buyers and market into the company and optimize how the company markets and sells to those buyers.
Over time, as the company grows, introduces more products or product variations, and attacks new use cases, market segments, verticals, or geographies, Product Marketing – as part of overall Product Management — should grow in some reasonable proportion. From that initial hire, the company should grow a team or teams of product marketers, working alongside product managers and aligned to best address strategic and market needs for the company.
In today’s market, where technology makes it easy for companies around the world to compete with one another, it is even more important than ever to have a team dedicated to understanding the market and buyer needs, and using that knowledge to ensure the company executes on compelling marketing and sales strategies.
Product Marketing talks to and listens to the market. It’s both inbound and outbound, but it exists with a specific focus. By incorporating Product Marketing into Product Management your company is assured full end-to-end alignment — from company and product strategy to product development, product launch, and go-to-market strategy and tactics. And who wouldn’t want that?