First, let’s address the elephant in the room - 2020 has been a pretty bleak year, with COVID-19 wreaking havoc.
Yet, despite the effects of the pandemic, product marketing has continued to gather momentum, with existing PMMs setting their sights on their next career step, while newbies have also decided to join the party.
After an exciting year from a product marketing viewpoint, suffice it to say, there’s a ton of excitement about what the new year has in store and we were curious to find out how the community envisions the upcoming 12-months.
And as you’ll know oh too well, we’re a stubborn ol’ bunch; when we wanna know something, we stop at nothing to get the answers we need. 😉
So, after a little bit of digging and some help from PMMs listed in our 2020 Top 100 Product Marketing Influencers report, we’re thrilled to bring you a whole host of product marketing predictions for 2021.
"2021 will be the year that we break up big Product Marketing. Similar to calls for tech giants to be broken up, Product Marketing will splinter into 4 focus areas: GTM, Positioning & Messaging, Competitive Intel and Sales Enablement. This will spawn a whole host of new roles and job titles and a move away from unsustainable Product Manager to Product Marketing ratios. For too long Product Marketing’s role has been so broad and diverse it dampens our ability to pinpoint successes. That changes next year."
Sean Broderick, Senior Manager of Product Marketing at Altify
“I think you’ll see PMM becoming more disciplined in tracking their impact on revenue teams especially from the perspective of the work we do around sales enablement. New tools are providing this capability and it’s really exciting.”
Robert Reynolds, Director of Product Marketing at GoGuardian
“For better or worse, easy access to Gong and Chorus recordings will result in fewer PMMs speaking directly with customers.
“My fear is that time-crunched PMMs will give up win/loss calls for listening to sales call recordings. Customers always seem to open up more when there’s no sales rep on the call, but it’s also a huge pain to get those on the calendar.”
Tim Hinds, Product & Marketing, Co-Founder at GrokSpark
“The PMM function is viewed more as the strategic arm for the CMO; in 2021, I think more CMOs will be product marketing driven.”
Vijai Shankar, VP of Product Marketing at Uniphore
“PMMs will continue to work deeply in other functions' SaaS tools to collaborate: Giving feedback on designs in Figma, creating bug reports in GitHub, participating in product roadmap sessions with Miro boards, and more.”
Abby Barsky, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Cord
“I think we’ll see leadership understand the true value of product marketing is not in following strategy, but in building it.”
Elliott Rayner, Head of Product Marketing at Babbel
“2021 is the time for re-tooling the PMM! PMMs rework their skills and tools to become the strategic advantage for the company.”
Angel Camacho, Director of Product Marketing at AeroSpike Inc.
“We are seeing a positive outlook towards SaaS companies pro-actively searching for PMMs, the challenges will only increase due to a larger push to stand out from others and make your mark. It is going to be a very interesting year for PMMs.”
Vishal Rewari, Founder at towardsdigital.co
“All things video! Video calls remain the norm throughout the sales cycle and adoption of technology such as Gong and Jimminy booms, giving product marketers a treasure trove of insights to shape competitive and market intelligence now the entire sales cycle happens remotely.
“Virtual training is here to stay but smart PMMs use sales enablement best practice to create multi-touch learning programmes and use engaging technology solutions to keep remote teams involved.
“Client and industry events become a hybrid of the best of both worlds. Virtual events are a content creation opportunity and a chance to reach audiences without geographical or timing limitations but we find ways to make video and webinars interactive to feel like an event and networking opportunity.”
Louise Dunne, Product Marketing Manager at Linnworks
“I think companies will expand (or create) PMM organizations. While there will probably be some confusion about the responsibilities of a PMM, it will be more typical across the board.”
Ashley Klepach, Product Marketer
“I was hired as a PM but on discovery, it appeared the product needed a PMM more than a PM for that extra push to be rolled out.
“Hence, in 2021, multi-tasking personalities too would be adorned provided the skill set match which happened in my case. I have come across many companies realizing the need and building roles for PMM which is a great sign, but at the same time more focus is on process and technology.”
Jaikishan Daryanani, Product Manager at Addteq
“I think we are going to see a lot more Brand Activism in 2021. This year has been crazy and there have been some major political and social events which people have really embraced- COVID, Black Lives Matter, Anti Vax, etc. We will see more companies becoming vocal about their beliefs on these types of events in order to connect with the end-user on a more personal level.”
Christian Chapman, National Sales Manager, Juzo UK Ltd.
“I think 2020 was a huge awareness year for Product Marketing. A year where people really started to see the role as something critical and core to building a company. In the past, it was just nice to have a sales enablement role. 2021 will build on that. It'll be a year in which more CMO's build-out product marketing teams and the work, goals, and systems PMMs operate on will become standard and well understood.”
Marcus Andrews, Group Lead, Product Marketing at HubSpot
“2021 is likely a year for businesses to redesign their growth strategies. Accordingly, PMM will see a surge in demand as more businesses pursue new lines of revenue and hope to improve product-market fit at the get-go.”
Carolyn Bao, Product Marketing Consultant at Intuit
“More (smart) startups will hire product marketers earlier in their growth journey. I find too many startups hiring product marketers too late and often they have lost on differentiation and connecting with their market.”
Lindsay Bayuk, CMO at Pluralsight
“My prediction for 2021 is that we will see an influx of newly appointed CMOs with heavy product marketing backgrounds. Gone are the days of the traditional path to a CMO role (i.e. Demand Gen). Product Marketing is a core, strategic function of high-performing marketing teams that help put the business in the best position to win and we will see product marketers rewarded for it.”
Cody Bernard, Senior Manager of Product Marketing at Drift
“The chaos of 2020 has helped us rediscover the importance of relationships. PMMs are perfectly positioned to lead businesses in efforts to deepen customer relationships. However, we must be creative doing this in a “phyigital” world – both in gathering key customer insights quickly and making strategic recommendations that accelerate growth.”
Jennifer Bunting, Head of EMEA Product Marketing at LinkedIn
“2021 will be the year of thoughtful customer experiences. This past year has changed the way we work and collaborate, creating a paradigm shift in the way we engage with our customers. More than ever brands will need to be listening to their customers and empathizing with their new and existing challenges. Best-in-class companies will have customer needs dictate the strategy, and customer engagement will be designed with meaningful intent.”
Bree Bunzel, Head of Global Customer Marketing at Dropbox
“I predict that Product Marketers will increasingly partner with peers across buyer-driven ecosystems, including Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, etc; building joint buyer-centric value propositions and campaign strategies within strategic alliances that combine product portfolios to solve use cases deemed most critical to buyers.”
John Clark, Vice President of Product Marketing at Genesys
“In the new normal, the role will become even more important to provide fuel for marketing and sales, to set the right packaging models, and to detail GTM strategies to stick out in the digital landscape.”
Liza Collin, Market Readiness Director at Visma
“Product marketing will evolve as more and more companies move towards Product-Led Growth, the movement away from traditional sales cycles and towards relying on your product to acquire, activate, and retain customers. There are several trends that point towards the shift to product-led growth. According to a 2020 study by TrustRadius, the majority of B2B tech buyers are now millennials who are 2X more likely than older generations to discover a product by searching online. The study also found that 87% of these buyers want to self-serve part or all of their buying journey without talking with a sales representative, and consult an average of ~7 information sources before making a purchase, relying most on product demos, vendor websites, and free trials.
“Even large enterprise buyers now expect to try and evaluate software in an easy, frictionless way. As a result, in 2021 product marketers will shift away from sales enablement and towards product enablement - ensuring buyers experience meaningful outcomes while using their products. They will become more responsible for active usage, and ensuring the right leads become customers based on segmentation criteria. PMMs will be less incentivized on the quantity of content, sales tools, and launches they produce, and more incentivized on the quality of these tactics to drive active and engaged users. They will increasingly use quantitative and qualitative data to understand customer needs and behaviors and use that intel to make GTM decisions that increase product stickiness and adoption. They will use this data to create more granular customer segments and targeted solutions based on a customer’s needs and how they use the platform.
And most importantly, the movement towards PLG will give PMMs the opportunity to rise up from executing on sales activities and fire drills, and instead act as the architect of growth for their products.”
Lauren Culbertson, Co-Founder and CEO at LoopVOC
“Test, Learn, Iterate will be the new normal. We will be experimenting to find the right combination of strategies and tactics to align our firms to the changing needs of customers. We need to proactively plan for the long-term while remaining nimble and adjusting to current challenges.”
Karyn De Jong, Director of Product Marketing at Morningstar
“Prediction for 2021 is that PMM hiring ramps up and the scope of the role becomes clearer, as PMM value realization is accelerated due to the new world in which we live.”
Nikhil Dhingra, Director of Product Marketing at ringDNA
“2021 is the year we break the paradigm in B2B tech marketing where the marketing language used evolves from the sea of same terms which are difficult to differentiate, to more human, emotive, and fresher language. The product marketers who can bring this in - they are going to break through and achieve higher engagement, more mindshare, and faster adoption for their solutions. In short, B2B needs to think more like B2C.”
Priya Doty, VP of Product Marketing at IBM
“We know that 2021 will be full of changes, and successful product marketers will need to help their companies be agile and flexible. We will need to keep a close eye on factors that impact our market strategy and be prepared to adjust the moment we sense shifts in the competitive landscape or buyer priorities. 2021 would be a great year to invest in a customer advisory board or other structured ways of regularly taking the pulse on buyer sentiment. We will see significant shifts in 2021, and product marketers need to be ready to take advantage of them.”
April Dunford, Founder at Ambient Strategy
“Product marketing and digital marketing working closer together to optimize outreach and personalization from content to product. Product educational tools are moving from static images and videos to interactive assets that allow the customer to create their own journey experience.”
Serena Ehrlich, Director of Product Marketing at Business Wire
“2021 is going to be a year of change for all of us - again! Product Marketers who stand out in 2021 will take an outside-in approach, looking beyond the next feature launch or internal priority and put themselves in the shoes of their buyers each step of the way. They'll think about what their world is looking like at each touchpoint, as it will change at least every quarter next year.”
Kelly Esten, VP of Product and Partner Marketing at Toast
“The future of product marketing has never been more exciting! I believe if you view your product launch and Go To Market as the finish line, you're doing it wrong. Think of it as the starting line! As consumers have more choice in how and where they spend their time and money, engaging and retaining Customers will become just as important as acquiring them. Constantly raising the bar on your customer experience will be critical to becoming a core part of your Customer's lives.”
Carrie Friedrich Narla, Principal Product Marketing Manager at Amazon Prime Video
“In 2021, I see Product Marketers adding more credibility fuel into our strategy fires. Previously, PMMs may have been seen as a "tactical" or "support" function. We spent our time developing marketing materials and sales training for a fully baked product, rather than working alongside Product Management during product ideation.
“Now we see a paradigm shift: executives increasingly recognize the strategic value of PMM. According to PMA, 57% of execs described PMM as ‘representing the voice of the customer before, during, and after launch to drive growth, profit, and satisfaction.’
“In the year ahead, we are going to see that number continue to grow. PMMs will have an important role in developing go-to-market strategy not only for a specific product or feature set but also for complete brands and product portfolios. Product and Marketing leaders will continue to shape Product Marketing career paths, to foster talent development and retention.
“At PMA, we’re lucky to have a community of 13k+ PMMs strong; together we’ll continue to enable our organizations and develop skills so we can strive for Product Marketing excellence.”
Riana Frischman, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Amazon Pay
“Product Marketing will see at least a 5x increase of presence with the C-Suite and a 3x increase of presence with the Board of Directors. The disruption of 2020 means that buyers, sellers, influencers, and investors must accelerate 2021 to get back on track, requiring product-led companies to cut to the chase on what their products do, how they work, how they are different, and how they create value. Product Marketing is best positioned to provide these answers, which informs Go-to-Market teams and position them for success while reporting on those cross-functional outcomes.”
Jarod Greene, VP of Product Marketing at Apptio
“In 2021 I believe that product marketing leaders will start to expand their influence within their organizations by taking on new responsibilities and functions, such as customer marketing. Product marketing will evolve from a team within marketing or product to its own standalone department with sub-functions.”
Tamara Grominsky, VP of Strategic Growth at Unbounce
“I think one area that PMMs will explore more and experiment with is Customer Marketing.
“I think the ability to tell the product story from the customer's perspective will become a competitive advantage for companies who adopt this approach.
“PMMs will have to go beyond a standard testimonial video or shared ebook and think about implementing customer marketing throughout the entire funnel. For example, imagine sitting through a demo that is delivered by a real customer who is a power user of the product instead of a sales rep.
“What about sales enablement tools that are created in collaboration with customers? Traditionally PMMs have represented the voice of the customer inside the company, but now they need to take it to the next level and actually turn customers into brand advocates and partners.”
Maya Grossman, Strategic Advisor, Marketing and Product Marketing
“The global pandemic will accelerate the adoption of blockchain and other secure collaboration technologies.”
Mary Hall, Director of Blockchain Product Marketing at Oracle
“Sales enablement will become an even more important aspect of everyone's roles, as working remotely and videoconference fatigue continue to impact our ability to make true and deep connections with customers and explain the value of our products.”
Sara Hall, Head of Product Marketing - Branding Solutions at TikTok
“It's hard to predict what is in store for 2021 but one thing is certain is that next year will require a balancing act between motivating our audiences, driving change, and also being conscious of the struggles they're currently experiencing. And this will be the nuance that all product marketing leaders will need to get really good at articulating...and we have to do it all virtually.
“We need to communicate with empathy, patience, and a 'real voice'. With so many digital offers being cast, product marketers need their solutions to stand out. We also need to equip our customers and prospects with clear and succinct messages that help them navigate 2021, not bore them with buzzwords and technical jargon”
Dain Hansen, Director of Product Marketing for Database, Analytics, and Business Application Platform at Google
“PMM will become the leaders of PLG (Product Led Growth) initiatives. 2020 has taught us to think differently about how we connect with and grow with our customers. Our products will become the platforms for how we raise awareness of our offerings and reduce churn. And no-one is better equipped to lead that product-led growth than Product Marketers!”
Ali Hanyaloglu, Head of Global Product Marketing at Akeneo
“Product marketing will continue to rise in popularity and demand as companies look to scale faster and more leanly next year. There will also be big changes in marketing and data availability, so bets will seem riskier and need strong product marketers to usher companies through their change management periods vs. relying on standard practices to deliver results.”
Rene Hardtke, Senior Director, Product Marketing at Integrate Inc.
“2021 will be the year “customer-centric” messaging really takes off. Businesses are trying to find ways to connect more effectively with customers. With the learnings from 2020, a crazy year, to say the least, the product marketers who embrace this approach will see the greatest success. They’ll also be able to play a more pivotal role in their company’s go-to-market strategy.”
Christopher Hines, Director of Product and Solutions Marketing at Zscaler
“COVID-19 has accelerated the move to online for many brick-and-mortar businesses, making customer loyalty, retention, and repeat business ever-more important. For product marketers, I think this will mean an increased focus on marketing to existing customers and on customer success, with a drive for more personalized customer experiences throughout their journey.”
Jasmine Jaume, Group Product Marketing Manager, Core, and Platform at Intercom
“In the coming year, I feel that product marketing will take a more pivotal role with key strategic decision making within the c-suite for organizations, particularly when looking at key decisions relating to portfolio growth, divestment, and also future M&A activity. I feel the product marketer with their deep product and market insight will bring significant insight to these key decisions.”
Collette Johnson, Product Marketing Strategist at Redgate Software
“In 2021, PMMs will increasingly be elevated to take their seat as the next generation of marketing leaders, following Apple’s lead in choosing a Product Marketer to be CMO.”
Laura Jones, Global Head of Product Marketing at Uber
“As the product marketing function continues to be recognized as a key enabler of growth in organizations of all sizes, we will see an increasing number of PMM positions open up in the executive ranks. The path to the V-suite for product marketing has never been clearer. Our deep understanding of competitors, buyers, and the market puts us in a unique position to help drive focus and growth in the markets we serve. Expect to see more VP of Product Marketing or Head of Product Marketing positions spring up in 2021.”
Rahim Kaba, VP of Product Marketing at OneSpan
“This coming year, PMM will become an even more crucial part of the business as companies are forced to find new, meaningful ways to connect with customers and prospects in a primarily virtual world, and differentiated positioning will be critical to achieving this.”
Lisa Kant, VP of Product Marketing at Zendesk
“In 2020, the "we're here for you" type of communication from brands became such a cliché. COVID-19 showed us how quickly the perception of our product relevancy can change - and why we need to adapt to the "it's not about us, it's about them" approach.
“As a messaging app that connects hundreds of millions of people around the world, we understood that our role during the pandemic is more than just a place for chats and calls with friends and family. We've partnered with a network of government health institutes in over 15 markets to promote official local COVID-19 Communities on Viber.
“These communities are like a 1-way chat, where everybody can follow and receive real-time verified updates and trustworthy information about the spread of COVID-19. We've pushed these communications via in-app to millions of users to encourage them to stay connected to a reliable source of information, and to give them a new reason for usage for their everyday messaging app.
“That's the PMM role for 2021 - see the end-to-end life cycle of the user, apply market needs quicker, while adapting the communication to be around the users' needs. Present the brand in a relevant, useful, and effective way, while always making sure it's in an authentic and caring way. PMM that understands the user, its challenges - without putting your brand/product first.”
Matan Kaufman, Product Marketing Director at Rakuten Viber
“Companies and PMMs will have to sharpen their positioning and messaging game. As a result of Covid, use cases are shifting and buyer priorities have been turned up-side down. That means a realignment of value-to-market through adaptive positioning and ephemeral messaging. Expect an uptick in demand for PMM talent. H2 should see a shift back to physical experiences from digital ones. Many PMMs will find themselves with new employers due to an ongoing thirst for M&A.”
Axel Kirstetter, VP of Product Marketing, Content Marketing and Pricing at Datasite
“As many have mentioned, “the team that recruits the best talent wins.” This has never been more true than now. 2020 has tested us, and now more than ever, companies will need to determine how to re-accelerate growth. They will need to understand where the market is going, identify key features to prioritize, launch products that customers love, enable sales, and increase adoption. That’s the role of a PMM!
“As a result, 2021 will see product marketing becoming more strategic and influential in organizations. In Europe, it’s clear that it’s already one of the hottest roles. I get pinged continuously by startup CEOs and VPs of Marketing asking for help to set up their product marketing teams. I expect this trend to accelerate next year. If anyone out there is on the sidelines wondering if product marketing is for them, 2020 was your sign.”
Yannick Kpodar, Global Director of Product Marketing at Payfit
“Permanent Trials and Freemium models for enterprise software will rise in importance in 2021 Pricing models for enterprise cloud software will continue to evolve to more pay as you go and consumption-based pricing will join subscription models in importance Integration as a strategic platform for both CIOs and CEOs will become much more prevalent as best of breed cloud solutions chosen by their LOB leads will drive the need for enterprise integration.”
Daniel Lahl, VP of Product Marketing at SAP
“As new tools remove the need to involve engineering to change the in-product experience, I expect product marketers to increasingly be responsible for overseeing and continuously improving the customer journey.”
Francis Larkin, VP of Product Marketing at InVision
“The value of great positioning becomes recognized in a more formal way as a key to success. C-level looks directly to product marketing for expert positioning, and it becomes an elevated skill that the company assigns to product marketing as a core competency.”
Diego Lomanto, VP of Product Marketing at UiPath
“When you search for Product Marketing jobs on LinkedIn, 155K open requisitions are available world-wide. Due to demand for Product Marketing roles, I expect to see 25% jump in open roles next year at this time. I also predict to see more GMs, COOs, CMOs, CEOs elevated from the Product Marketing ranks in 2021.”
Joshua Lory, Senior Director of Product and Technical Marketing at VMware
“Redefining value with empathy, authenticity, and personalization.
“As we close out 2020 and move into 2021, one thing has become very clear to me:
“Marketing is going through a process of humanization. As COVID-19 has introduced the world to a new reality, businesses are not only adapting to new processes, but repositioning themselves to be more in touch with consumers. Naturally, leadership is looking to marketing for answers on how to successfully accomplish this. As a result, many of us in the marketing community are talking about empathy, authenticity, and personalization more than ever before.
“In my opinion, redefining value will be the trend of 2021. Establishing a sense of empathy and building trust through storytelling will emerge as the clear victor! The one thing all strong brands have in common is their active pursuit of building authentic, personal relationships with customers; relationships that are centered on shared values, empathy, and trust. To create value, brands need to view every interaction not as a transaction or step on the roadmap of success, but as a meaningful engagement that invites dialogue and a chance to forge brand loyalty.
“This evolution is essentially a reaction to what has become an oversaturated marketplace in need of evolution. Authentic and intentional brands are the only ones that will thrive; everything else will be interpreted as a commodity.”
Maegan Lujan, Director, Solutions and Services at Toshiba
“Product marketing will lead the way in the shift in content from whitepapers to short interactive content like videos and infographics. There will be more community driven content and PMMs can drive the engagement beyond content creation inhouse - this has always been the challenge for product marketers and now its paving ways for dynamic content curation.”
Div Manickam, Director, WW Services Marketing and Portfolio Management at Lenovo
“I have 3 predictions:
- As PMM teams grow, we'll see a higher level of specialization across roles.
- As more traditional media and CPG brands become more like tech companies, there will be more product and PMM roles opening at non-tech companies.
- As companies become more multi-market, how to launch and grow at scale globally will become a hotter and hotter topic.”
Mary Margaret, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HubSpot
“Product marketing will continue to become the "product managers of revenue" – working across the entire GTM team to solve revenue problems. More businesses will realize the strategic value of the role and less will be concerned with "measuring PMM" or "finding a north star metric.”
Daniel Murphy, Director of Marketing at Privy
“2021 should be the year of re-educating ourselves on our customers. The coronavirus pandemic has drastically altered business needs and customer behavior, leaving us with uncertainty on if and when we will be able to go back to “normal”. Re-education at scale starts with data, and so much data today is trapped in organizational silos. Companies will soon be challenged to invest in the right tools and infrastructure so product marketers, product teams and sellers can truly take an aligned approach. Product marketers will need to reassess their customer’s needs through feedback, testing and surveys to understand whether changes in behavior are temporary or permanent.
“Further, product marketers will also see more discipline in tracking the impact that their initiatives have on revenue specifically, in addition to key metrics such as lead generation, win-rate, conversion and awareness. Improving the ability to measure our impact will gain visibility with senior leadership who will recognize product marketing as an important function and continue to make investments to grow teams and provide budget allocation. Implementing a more disciplined measurement approach will also ensure we are strategically focusing our time on priorities that will have the biggest impact on our customers.”
Krysha Nair, Product Marketing Lead at Amazon Web Services
“The pandemic has caused all of us to re-evaluate our spending. This forces product marketing to *really* understand the unique value their product adds to their specific personas, and how to communicate that value. I think we’ll see PMM refining positioning and personas to capture the attention of their audience and stand out, and will be focusing more heavily on current customer base and retention.”
Kalyn New, Director of Product and Customer Marketing at CM Group
“COVID brought 2030 to 2020, hitting fast-forward on the digital revolution, and forcing companies to take action. Traditional companies were forced to take their businesses online, while digitally native or digital-savvy businesses doubled down and adapted their digital strategy to grow (or survive in a post covid era). This means fierce online competition, cluttered inboxes, and non-stop social and digital ads to capture the attention of a prospective customer, or to create engaging and memorable customer experiences.
“In order to stand out and capture interest, the value a business offers and the problems they solve need to be crystal clear. So what does this mean for PMM? More businesses, offering a range of products, experiences, and services (from not-for-profit to CPG to SaaS), have realized the importance of agility in order to thrive or survive. They need teams to deeply understand their customers and position themselves in the market, and adjust to market conditions at moments notice- the demand for product marketers has been on the rise YoY, but COVID has hit fast-forward on the digital revolution and will skyrocket the demand for this specialization.”
Tamara Niesen, Head of Product Marketing at Shopify Plus
“In 2021 we’ll see heads of Product Marketing as strategic hires earlier in the growth curves of younger companies. CEOs and CMOs will realize that companies who are technology-led need more direction and input from the market, and that generalist demand-generation teams require more direction, messaging and audience focus.”
Ken Oestreich, VP Product Marketing at AuthO
“Working at the intersection of Sales, Product and Marketing, PMM leaders are becoming change agents for agile transformation. Agile transformation is about removing communication barriers between departments or data silos, simplifying organizational complexity, and empowering teams to make real-time decisions and speed up business processes in order to better address customer needs and win.
“Agile management powers PMMs to be that glue that brings together teams across the organization and ensures everyone is aligned around KPIs and heading in the same direction. But not less important, it helps PMM quantify their influence and constantly prove their impact on the bottom line.”
Dorit Oren Israeli, Director of Product Marketing at Monday .com
“In 2021, product marketing will continue to become more closely aligned with revenue generation and adopt metrics related to business outcomes.”
Robin Pam, Go to Market Lead, Payment Intelligence at Stripe
“Product Marketing will continue to rise in popularity and demand as companies look to scale faster and more leanly next year. There will also be big changes in marketing and data availability, so bets will seem riskier and need strong product marketers to usher companies through their change management periods vs. relying on standard practices to deliver results.”
Susan Park, Head of Global Gaming Ads, Product Marketing at Facebook
“I predict that product marketing will become more defined and elevated within technology companies in 2021. The PMM role will be the connective tissue within organizations, especially within marketing.”
Rita Patel Jackson, VP, Product Marketing - Industry and Solutions, at MuleSoft
“2021 will be a breakout year for product marketers. We saw a surge of product marketing hires in 2020 and in 2021 their positive impact will be felt across departments. This will catapult PMMs into a key strategic stakeholder position and their work as a core revenue driver for the company. We also see PMMs get better at crafting narratives and messaging that creates value, captures value, and expands value.”
JD Prater, Head of Product Marketing at AWS Activate
“As I reflect on the impact that Covid-19 has had on consumer behaviour in 2020, it is obvious that the pandemic has accelerated digital adoption and mobile commerce by a decade. A whole new category of new customers has emerged paving the way for many new D2C and subscription based companies. Based on the Subscription Economy Index, while sales of global S&P 500 has contracted by 10%, subscription businesses grew at 12%. In 2021, as businesses focus on recovery, it will be critical for them to sustain this shift to online by building a consumer habit and loyalty. This is where I see the opportunity for subscription based businesses to win in 2021 with an inherent recurring revenue model that naturally builds loyalty in customers! Companies that prioritise subscription programs that are consumer centric, relevant to GenZ’s needs and have a social element at its core will rise to the top in 2021 and it is important for PMMs to tap into this opportunity.”
Aashima Praveen, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Bumble
“Practitioner engagement is at an all time high, given the added access to virtual events and forums in the COVID era. Practitioner personas and influencers will play a much greater role in purchasing decisions. Product marketers will work closer with data scientists to better understand their digital customer journey to maximize the potential of the rich engagement data available via digital demand generation channels.”
Irshad Raihan, Director of Product Marketing at Red Hat
“We've seen the shift to product marketing being more strategic and having a seat at the table - evident in both the Product Marketing Alliance's 2019 and 2020 State of Product Marketing reports and in Greg Joswiak's (a former Product Marketing Leader) appointment as an Apple marketing exec. We've also seen the radical shift of customer expectations and the ways we engage customers in 2020 - every company needs to operate in a more agile manner to quickly respond to changes. With all this in mind, there is no better opportunity to be a product marketer than right now. It's challenging, sure, but we are perfectly poised to drive more impact on the business with our deep customer understanding and ability to bridge cross-functional gaps to drive results quickly. I think we will see Product Marketers taking more agile approaches to marketing - encouraging experimentation, quick iterations, and continuous delivery of value in 2021.”
Sapphire Reels, Manager of Portfolio Marketing at Pluralsight
“Demand for PMMs will continue to increase and the fight for headcount will force organizations into hiring junior PMMs to fill their immediate needs.”
Vakis Rigas, Head Of Product Marketing at Typeform
“Product marketing will be widely identified as the "secret sauce" in product-led (or user-led) growth, connecting user acquisition techniques with product functionality and capabilities.”
Jon Rooney, Senior Vice President, Product and Solutions Marketing at New Relic
“Product marketing will become even more strategic - a force to reckon with for any company, no matter the size, geo, industry.
“In 2021, product marketers will be in the driver’s seat and help with strategic initiatives, more than ever before.
“The best product marketers will be the ones who manage to create and nurture extremely strong connections with their sales org, and will be able to measure their success in a super tangible way - impacting the revenue of their company. No ROI, no PMM.”
Julien Sauvage, Vice President, Product Marketing at Gong
“I believe there will be several trends taking place in 2021, but would highlight three:
“Better alignment around excellence: Product marketing has typically been a loosely defined function, with many of us being asked by our peers 'what exactly do you do?'. Moreover, even within the same org, there are very different ways product marketing operates, depending on the individuals who make part of each team. I think over the last year, there has been a strong movement to solidify the PMM community (much attributed to the PMA), building more consistency about our role and best-in-class practices.
“Higher Focus on loyalty and retention: So far, PMM has mostly been focused on growth through acquisition, product launches etc. It's equally important to strategically drive CRM and LTV, through loyalty and retention, as well as considering the entire product lifecycle. I see more and more PMMs fully owning these areas, and with more excellence through optimized frameworks, processes and tools. This is particularly relevant for several pure digital products who grew up acquisition substantially in 2020 due to COVID, but now also need to ensure retention and longer-term customer value.
“More integration between product marketing and customer marketing: It's more and more important for product marketeers to think about their products individually, but also how they relate to the entire product portfolio and how they should be integrated into 'customer solutions', focused on the customer holistic needs, versus individual 'product pushes'.”
Sofia Mourão Serra, Head of Product Marketing at Facebook
“My PMM prediction for 2021 is that Product Marketers will have become more data driven than ever before. Without the pulse on the market, the "word on the street" at live events, or talks with customers at happy hours, PMMs are going to have to turn more towards product data insights and analytics. Not to say they haven't been looking at this information already, but with the virtual work environments means more virtual events. And virtual events are measured through online tracking and analytics. By being more data-driven, Product marketers will continue to gain that "pulse on the market", identify how their products are being used, and become more successful in this ever changing work environment.”
Mandy Schafer, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Chartio
“My prediction for 2021 is that PMMs will become more influential than ever before. As companies have had to do more with less, PMMs will be the connector through which sales, product management, and marketing work together more effectively in a data-based way. I also think the PMM background will be a must-have for CMO hires, such as the new CMO at Apple, a previous PMM leader.”
Mary Sheehan, Head of Product Marketing at Adobe Advertising Cloud
“Product marketers will need to lead companies in frequently updating messaging to align with the changing economic outlook as we emerge from the pandemic. PMMs for booming industries like cloud tech will need to encourage customers to keep innovating. Others in recovering industries like travel and hospitality will need to help customers understand their commitment to safety and the promise of lost pastimes. Balancing optimism, realism, and opportunity in positioning will be the product marketer's job in 2021.”
Diana Smith, Director of Product Marketing and Brand for Twilio's Social Impact Division at Twilio
“Product Marketing gets global. With remote work, thriving startup scenes, and tech unicorns outside of the Bay Area, Silicon Valley, and the US, new PMM roles will grow rapidly in other major US cities, Europe and beyond. PMMs with the ability to create content, launch and market to customers with a cultural and local context and sensitivity, will thrive in a more borderless, global and virtual world.”
Tom Smith, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Salesforce
“The role takes on new meaning and strategic importance as the expert communicators and cross-functional collaborators become the single most important talent to have as we navigate this new remote-first world we’re all living (and working) in.”
Yoni Solomon, Director of Product Marketing at G2
“Product Marketers are already in hot demand, and in 2021, we will see many more start-ups adding a product marketer as their first marketing hire. The main reason for this is that as consumers, we are getting sick of being 'marketed to' with fluffy language and hyperbole. Product marketers bring the precision of language to clarify their message - this will be the hallmark for the next cohort of successful startups.”
Vanessa Thompson, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Twilio
“Product Marketing becomes a focus on buying strategy. 2020 was a heck of a year, and for a lot of companies the way they sold had to adapt to people now working from home and in different ways. In 2021 Product Marketing will need to ensure that we understand our buyers and what's driving them more than ever and have that detail in a place like personas.
“Product Marketing gains greater influence in pricing and packaging. With record unemployment across the globe, individuals and businesses are feeling the impact of pricing more so than ever. Product marketers will have more influence over pricing and packaging than before.”
Jeffrey Vocell, Director of Product Marketing at Iterable
“Product marketing will increasingly subsume customer, content, and brand marketing.”
Stacey Wang, Director of Product Marketing at Ironclad
“Product Marketing is continuing to be a sought after role and this momentum is culminating to strong PMM leaders having a seat at the table with executives and VPs across Product, Engineering, Marketing, Sales and Account Management. I predict that in 2021, we continue to see a stronger presence of PMM in top, decision making roles that drive organizations forward.”
Holly Watson, Group Product Marketing Manager at Attentive
“Never has the value of product marketing been at the forefront of business. Why? The pressure that COVID has put on all industries has magnified customer centricity and value realisation by an order of magnitude. Businesses of all sizes and all industries have had to fast track their digital transformation and/or their customer approach entirely and product marketing is at the center of ensuring that product/solution value is explicit and ultimately that any given software, product, or service is a business-critical investment. Scrutiny of business software is at an all-time high as is the expectations on the performance and value of any given software investment (budgets are being cut and CMO's are asking more from their investments.) Product Marketing will continue to be at the center of the 'golden triangle' of Product, Sales, and Marketing to ensure (more so than ever) that products and solutions are going over and above to ensure customer value and success.”
Jeremy Wood, Head of Product Marketing (APAC) at Adobe
“If I had to go with one, I would choose ‘measurability’ -- I’d say that the ROI of marketing campaigns across many industries / companies has become ever more scrutinized in the COVID era, and will continue to be increasingly so in 2021. The implications of this on execution are multi-fold -- e.g., increasing ad purchases on E-commerce channels (given greater ability to hyper-target users), revisiting fundamentals to better understand the consumer base in a COVID / post-COVID era. Let's see what happens!”
Vincent Xu, Android Product/Partnerships Marketing Lead, Asia-Pacific
“The theme of 2021 is going to be focus. We are all coming out of a hectic and stressful 2020 - our colleagues, customers and users will be craving clarity.
“There’ll be two implications for Product Marketing:
- Your product positioning needs to fit seamlessly with the bigger picture of your company narrative. Tell less stories in 2021 - the payoff will be a bigger impact.
- Your role as the owner of customer and user insights is more important than ever. Make sure you are measuring the right things and that you understand your customer/ user insights. Then use that to help your company focus on what matters.”
Kaitlin Yount, Director of Product Marketing, LinkedIn
“Going to the movies will never be the same even post pandemic. In 2021, we already know Warner Bros will release their movies through HBO Max and Disney will do the same through Disney+, but I predict those changes will stay long after we feel comfortable going out in crowds again. Instead, major theatrical releases will be reserved only for blockbuster movies with nearly everything else going straight to streaming.”
Jon Youshaei, Product Marketing, Video, Instagram
“Sitting at the C-suite table, moving towards a company strategy role, and managing cross-functional programs focusing on growth, engagement and retention. In the SaaS tech industry most PMM leaders will report to the CEO, no more reporting to product or to marketing.”
Karim Zuhri, Global Head of Product Marketing and Research at SafetyCulture
Voila! A series of predictions courtesy of some of the leading names honing their skills in product marketing. Will their PMM prophecies bear fruit in 2021? Who knows? Either way, as has been the case with PMA in 2020, we’ll be there every step of the way.