John C. Maxwell said, “a leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” But how well do our product marketing leaders view the way their own organization works?

In this article we’ll look at last year’s State of Product Marketing Leadership report, specifically exploring how product marketing leaders perceive their team and company structure, including:

We’ll also share how you can get involved in this year’s State of Product Marketing Leadership report. 🔥

The term “product marketing”

There have been many discussions within the product marketing community, with many believing that the term “product marketing” no longer fits the role. Often, the argument is that because the role is so cross-functional, the term no longer fits the scope of their roles and responsibilities.

To continue the discussion, we asked product marketing leaders if they felt that the term ‘product marketing’ adequately described their role.  

Pie chart showing the results that are written below.

The results showed that 75% said yes, “Product marketing” did fit their role, whereas 12% felt that ‘Portfolio marketing’ was more accurate, and 13% fell in the “other” bracket. Those that fell under this section suggested alternative names that they felt better suited the role, including ‘Strategic Product Marketing’, ‘Solutions and Product Marketing, ‘Overall Marketing Lead’, and ‘Product and Content Marketing’.

Kavya Nath, current* VP of Product Marketing at Krisp said,

“I think the term product marketing definitely describes the ultimate function of the role, in that we are the team whose job it is to fully understand what the product does and how it brings value to our customers and prospects.
“However, what the term doesn’t accurately take into consideration is all the things that go into marketing a product- messaging & positioning, understanding target buyers and the competitive landscape, sales enablement, release communications, campaign strategy, and so much more. So as the role continues to evolve in the market, we need to make sure that the definition of product marketing is understood to encompass all of those elements.”

*At the time of the report, Kavya was the Senior Director of Product Marketing at Sprinklr.

Abdul Rastagar, current* GTM Leader at Benchling, agreed that the product marketing role has evolved to the point it needs changing, saying,

“Product marketing is becoming increasingly strategic. While traditionally focusing mostly on tactical product launches, it is now much more revenue and outcomes-focused. The product marketer of the future will be a revenue marketer first and foremost.”

*At the time of the report, Abdul was the Head of Healthcare Marketing at TalkDesk.

Organizational growth

As we know, the product marketing industry is continuing to gain traction and the product marketing role has almost become an essential part of any organization. However, we wanted to know more about the kind of organizations that are taking on product marketers within their teams, and how many they are hiring in relation to this.

So, we asked our PMM leaders what stage of growth their organization is at.

Chart showing the results that are written below.

We discovered that it was fairly spread across the board, with 35% coming from mid-growth organizations with an established go-to-market team, 25% from late growth/scale-up companies, 18% from enterprise stage, and 17% from early post-product market fit.  Just 5% of our product marketing leaders were from early pre-product market fit organizations.

When asked the total number of employees at their company, just over a quarter (26%) of leaders who were surveyed said they worked for companies that had around 201-500 employees, whereas 24% worked for those with around 51-200 employees, and 22% worked within a larger organization that held 501-1,000 employees.

Table showing the results that are written above.

Team size

Despite the fact that the majority of our product marketing leaders were working for fairly large organizations, we found that the size of their product marketing teams was modest, to say the least. Over half of our respondents (64%) have teams consisting of just 2-5 PMMs, 13% with 6-10, and just 1% reporting a team size of over 20.

Chart showing the results that are written above.

Internal collaboration

As stated before, product marketing is a very cross-functional role. So, it’s a lot easier for product marketing teams to collaborate and work alongside multiple internal teams to optimize their projects and workloads. When creating the 2021 SoPMM Leadership report, we were interested to know which teams product marketing leaders worked closest with.

When we asked them, we discovered that almost all of our product marketing leaders reported working most closely with product at 92%, whilst marketing came in at a close second at 85%, customer success at 46%, sales enablement at 40%, sales at 18%, and revenue at 12%.

Chart showing the results that are written above.

Company culture

When we asked our leaders how they’d describe their company culture, just over a third (38%) described their culture as product-first. When looking at the percentage of leaders marketing SaaS products, as well as how closely PMMs reported working with product, this comes as no surprise.

More than a quarter (28%) of product marketing leaders reported a sales-first culture, just beating customer-first culture (25%) with second place.

Chart showing the results that are written above.

Div Manickam, Author, Mentor, and Product Marketing Influencer, said:

“As product marketers, we don’t have the resources or budget and it truly takes a village. We have to inspire our team to go after moonshot goals, we have to influence our peers and stakeholders to join and collaborate together and then deliver impact for our customers and partners. None of this happens in a vacuum or in a cave and we win or lose together as one team.
Inspire: Trust & Credibility - We trust and respect each other, irrespective of level.
Influence: Extreme ownership - We own what we do: the good, bad and ugly, and are accountable to each other.
Impact: Results & relationships - We strive for team recognition, not individual recognition - we win or lose together”

Organizational structure

The traditional team organizational structure is all but obsolete, which is just as well because when it comes to product marketing, one size never fits all. Some companies favor a feature-first structure, while for others, a customer-centric model makes sense.

We spoke to all of our product marketing leaders to see if they structure their organizations by segment, line of business, or product. Here’s what they had to say:

“At Unbounce, we have a central product marketing team that sits outside of both product and marketing. We’ve formed a new department called Strategic Growth that brings together product marketing, customer marketing, and partnerships to work towards a shared goal of building sustainable product, market, and business growth”
Tamara Grominsky, Chief Strategy Officer at Unbounce

“We’ve organized by product and market. With two PMMs focused on product lines, one PMM focused on verticals, and a sales enablement/competitive intelligence focused PMM.”
Madelyn Wing, Director of Partner Marketing at CallRail

“Our structure is primarily functional (customer marketing, core PMM, segment, competitive) with some additional division around products.”
Eve Alexander, VP of Product Marketing at Seismic

“We have three Product Marketing Managers each aligned to a different internal organization (one to Product, one to CX, and one to Revenue), all three report directly to the Product Marketing Director. She then reports to the CPO”
Lara Verlinden, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Showpad

A diagram visually explaining what Lara Vinderlin explained in her quote above.

“We’re split by products and audience. We have two small teams representing each of our two products, who focus on market insights, positioning/messaging, and launches.
“And one team focused on audiences (direct to customer and partner channel) that works bottom of the funnel, campaigns, and website with marketing and sales enablement/ competitive with sales.”
Zachary Fox, Senior Director of Product Marketing at RD Station

“We have three senior product marketing managers at the helm of customer-specific solution sets, aligned to 2-3 product managers for the supporting solutions. Each product marketing manager works with product managers on research to inform the development roadmap, with sales enablement to build sales playbooks, with creative to build sales collateral and our content team on marketing campaigns. As the leader of the team, I manage our analyst and vendor partnerships, set the strategy for the team that aligns with the corporate objectives, and represent the company out in the market as a thought leader.”
Jessica Munoz, SVP Product Marketing & GTM Strategy at LiveIntent

“Our structure is aligned to a key product group. Each of the three product groups has a primary PMM assigned that handles launches and ongoing activities. The final individual helps with competitive intelligence and market insights and assists with launches.”
Jeffrey Vocell, Director of Product Marketing at Iterable

“I report to the Chief Marketing Officer and three primary functions report to me:
Portfolio Marketing (aligned to Product Lifestyle Management Framework with Product Management and Global Sales Enablement);
Industry Marketing (aligned to Marketing and Sales to define GTM strategy and build integrated marketing plan)
Buyer and Competitive Intelligence (support Portfolio and Industry Marketing functions)”
John Clark, Global VP of Industry, Strategic Alliance and Product Marketing at Genesys

A diagram visually explaining what John Clark explained in his quote above.

Get involved in the next SoPMM Leadership report

In a bid to understand the leadership landscape in 2022, we’ve opened up this year’s State of Product Marketing Leadership report survey.

Why take part?

The survey is open to product marketing leaders from all across the globe. Not only will your invaluable insights help existing leaders refine their practice and aspiring leaders reach the pinnacle of product marketing, but you’ll gain access to transferrable expertise sure to refine your own prowess.

So, help us help you, and take the survey to join in the creation of the State of Product Marketing Leadership report 2022.

Complete the survey