Cross-team collaboration is a critical role in the success of global product marketing teams, with the relationship between product marketing and teams such as sales, customer success, and marketing continuing to be scrutinised under the spotlight.
In this article, we’re focusing on the relationship between product marketing and market analysts, who also play a pivotal role in helping PMMs accomplish their short and long-term goals.
We wanted to see if our product marketing leaders were responsible for analyst relations, what those relationships look like, and if they employ them at all.
In this article, we'll focus on:
- What market research analysts are
- Whether product marketers work closely with market analysts
- Why communication is important
- How to build a communication culture
What are market research analysts?
Market research analysts study market conditions, competitors, and consumer behavior so they can best advise organizations which products and services to sell to which markets at what price.
Outsourcing this kind of research is becoming commonplace in larger organizations, as well as within companies offering multiple products and services.
Do product marketers work closely with analysts?
According to the 2021 State of Product Marketing Leadership report, 42% of product marketing leaders aren't responsible for analyst relations, with 21% not working with them at all.
We asked the PMM leaders who DO work with analysts how they’d describe their working relationship and here’s what they said:
“At trivago, we had a separate team called marketing intelligence who constantly helped the work of market leads.”
Bettina Jakobsen, Product Marketing Manager at Google (formerly trivago)
“At IsoPlexis, we had an excellent working relationship. When we asked questions, they provided data.”
Stacey Willard, Director of Core Accounts, Single-Use Tech at Cytiva, (formerly IsoPlexis)
“I’d describe it as productive. We are new to analyst relations, so very much in the relationship-building phase.”
Chris Haberle, VP of Product Marketing at Nextiva
“It’s a necessary part of the job. Challenging because relationships need to be built over years but that's much longer than the success/failure horizon I work with. The tension between 'appearing like just what analysts are looking for' and pushing our view on the market does get tiresome.”
Brian Busch, Director of Product Marketing and Alliances at Cloud Elements
“Good but I find I'm often seeking more direct feedback than they provide.”
Kim Loughead, VP of Product Marketing at Celigo
“It's really good. We utilize an AR agency to help balance some of the work, and I primarily deliver briefings, request inquiries, and also participate in annual reports.”
Jeffrey Vocell, Director of Product Marketing at Iterable
“We work very closely. I outline our research goals to inform the product roadmap and help us venture into new market segments in pursuit of more customers. They present their strategy to help us meet those goals and then meet with me biweekly to stay on top of things.”
Jessica Munoz, SVP Product Marketing & GTM Strategy at LiveIntent
“My company is in the early stages of analyst relations. We do not have analysts solely devoted to our space and as such, we did not devote any time to analyst relations last year, though we did have exploratory calls with analysts the year before that.
"This year, our goals are to continue to educate analysts on the role we're playing within subsegments of their existing, related area(s) of focus, better understand how they currently view our space, and attempt to influence their future understanding.”
Alison Grenkie, Director of Product Marketing at Loopio
“I own the relationships with them and speak with them directly. It’s been consultative on both sides with us sharing intelligence.”
Yvonne Chow, Director of Marketing at Certn
“It’s a positive working relationship. We rely on them for market feedback and research.”
Gray Hardell, Director of Product Marketing at Talend
Communication is pivotal in building bonds with analysts and is often considered a key trait of product marketers. In the State of Product Marketing Report 2020, a resounding 80% of PMMs surveyed identified strong communication as the skill they valued the most.
Why is communication important?
Strong communication is important irrespective of whether a product marketer is liaising with sales, product, customer success, or analysts, as Melanie Linehan, Director of Growth Marketing Manager at WeTransfer explained when she appeared as a guest on the Product Marketing Insider podcast.
Communication provides an opportunity for product marketers to bring their skill sets to the fore and boost understanding of the role within the organization. Silvia Kiely Frucci, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Castor, formerly of Wilmington Health Care, is among the 22% of product marketers working alone, and outlined why communication forms a vital part of her role:
“My work is generated by communicating with other people. It’s a window of opportunity to make yourself recognized both inside and outside of your organization.
“I was the only Product Marketing Manager at Wilmington Healthcare. While my boss was a Marketing Director and knew about lots of things such as campaigns, product marketing is an area where people think they can do it and in some cases, don’t consider it to be essential. Therefore, you need to communicate with others to show them the role is indispensable and change negative perceptions.”
If you adopt a mindset whereby you’re hell-bent on working to your agenda, it’ll only have one outcome: it’ll stifle overall effectiveness, and prevent you from getting key jobs over the line.
Conflict and opposing philosophies within teams can seriously hinder your progress, hence why it’s essential to instill a company culture with internal communication at its core to facilitate goals and objectives in product marketing teams, and beyond.
Kerensa Hogan, Director of Product Marketing at RingCentral, formerly of Amazon, highlighted product marketing’s prominent role in cross-functional communication:
“Because product marketing is so responsible for cross-functional communication, small group communication as a skill is so important. PMMs rarely ever speak to an audience greater than maybe six people in a room, right? And a lot of the things we do, and I would add conflict resolution as a second skill, is we are communicating in a small group.
“More often than not, we're hosting that communication, because we're either trying to make people aware of something or we're trying to get people to consult on something.
“Generally speaking, we're often the drivers of this effort and workflow. So, the ability to understand the importance of small group communication and the dynamics of small group communication, and how to fundamentally lead a meeting, is so important.”
Jasmine Jaume, Director of Product Marketing, Support & Platform at Intercom, also gave her two cents on why she considers internal communication to be a core characteristic for any PMM:
“It's kind of cliche, but communication is so key in a product marketing role. It helps people build relationships with different teams and know when something is happening.
“Whether it’s a feature announcement, or a change to the UI, knowing who that's going to impact, being able to consider which teams need to know about it, and then being able to communicate messages clearly and concisely to people so they know A) why it’s important to them, and B) why they should care about it is typical of why good communication skills are key. I don't think you'd get very far in a PMM role if you can't communicate well.”
Communication can play a critical role in improving relationships with your analysts, but this skill also brings a host of other benefits to the table. Liaising effectively with your team supports more streamline knowledge-sharing, and can help improve your product or service.
Here are some more reasons you need to move heaven and earth to embed a culture of internal communication:
Communication establishes (and maintains) understanding
If people are struggling to understand an idea, they can develop a tendency to bury their heads in the sand. This can also be the case for product marketers and other teams you’re collaborating with.
The more you communicate with your product marketers and other teams within the company, the more familiar they’ll become with the methods you’re implementing.
Speaking with team members is your opportunity to refine your PMM profile, and in some cases, communication is key in proving the skeptics wrong.
With only 5% of product marketers recently surveyed indicating they felt their role was clearly understood, suffice to say, the more product marketers demonstrate their value to in-house teams, the greater understanding people will have of the value they bring.
This is a philosophy echoed by Holly Watson, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Amazon Web Services:
“Product marketers do add value, but it’s been said before - product marketing has a branding problem. To overcome this hurdle, add value, do work, be vocal. What I mean by this is to leverage the cross-functional nature of a product marketer’s role to help connect teams and streamline communication and collaboration.
“Add value by crafting the right story and helping your colleagues promote their work on the right channels to the right audience - be a good marketer; even for internal channels. And finally, your audience, your sellers, your teams have a lot thrown their way daily. Gracefully use multiple channels to educate, inform, advise and direct teams to the resources being developed. Get on regional team calls, global team calls, use slack or other chat channels, email, email again to share resources.
“You might feel like it’s redundant. That’s ok. Don’t get fed-up or frustrated. Empathize and help craft a reliable, trusted voice that adds value to your teammates and end-users. It’s not about you as a product marketer, it’s about the value you’re providing to your teams - the recognition will come.”
Communicating with stakeholders during monthly meetings and implementing frameworks can help people understand what needs to be achieved without overwhelming them with a barrage of information.
For example, simply agreeing on clear-cut deadlines for tasks will allow people to see what needs to be accomplished, and when. By reaching a mutual understanding, this negates any confusion and the process will become much smoother, with less risk of mistakes.
Whether you’ve made revisions to your buyer personas, or tweaks to your sales enablement assets, communicating will help product marketers and other people in the organization understand the essential information they need in order to perform to their optimum potential.
Holistic thinking is pivotal
In the eyes of many, internal communication is a process led by senior figures. However, an effective internal communication strategy is a two-way street.
If team members aren’t allowed to voice their opinions and make suggestions, they can start to feel demoralized and unmotivated.
This will not only lead to poor performance, it will also cause staff morale to wane and company culture will suffer as a result.
Given that product marketing teams don’t always feel appreciated by outside teams, it’s important to ensure everybody feels valued.
Communicate effectively, massage the egos of your team members, and provide encouragement. Give internal teams a platform where they can see their input having a tangible impact.
Communication increases engagement
Establishing a two-way communication process needs to be high on the priority list for every product marketer. Encouraging interactions amongst your team and other areas of the company will keep your team engaged.
When your team members are encouraged to make their voices heard, this makes them feel valued; when people feel good about themselves, they’ll run through brick walls for you, and that’s worth its weight in gold.
Talking can steady the boat
Even in the wonderful world of product marketing, challenges can rear their ugly heads.In such cases, an effective internal communications model can work wonders.
For example, if a long-anticipated product launch doesn’t go to plan, communicating with your product marketing team and the wider business can establish whether:
- The right personas were targeted,
- If the right messaging was used,
- What changes need to be made to avoid a repeat occurrence.
It’s equally important to follow up with other internal teams, as well as product marketing; if they don’ t know the latest information, they can’t be expected to help you in the future.
Communicating generates ideas
When people communicate, ideas are born, and a platform for innovation is provided.
Let’s look at things from two different perspectives:
- Company A - This company’s initial ideas come from its creatives. The company is staunchly against teams sharing ideas.
- Company B - While the creative team at this company forms the initial idea, they proactively seek feedback from other teams and use customer and market feedback to develop the initial concept.
Company B is in a far stronger position than Company A. By introducing a company culture centered on internal communication, they’ll form more ideas than Company A, with a strong possibility of stowing away a suggestion to craft into their next product or service.
Internal communication supports product launches
From concept to the eagerly-awaited launch day, everyone needs to be on the same page, and have a consistent understanding of what’s expected when a product is being launched.
Once a product is on the roadmap and a go-to-market plan has been created, communication is critical, particularly for strategies spanning several months when responsibilities can slip under the radar.
Fortnightly meetings are just one of many ways that can be introduced to maintain communication and keep on track of product launches, with Silvia Kiely Frucci, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Castor outlining how she’s previously used the method:
“Our products tended to have a very long life cycle, somewhere in the region of six to eight months. Because the cycle was so long, I kept everyone on track by holding meetings every two weeks, until we got the work started.
“The meeting served as a reminder for the team: which marketing pieces were needed? What were the next stages? Which materials should we use in our customer advisory board? In short, we used the meetings to shape the overall ideas surrounding the product.
“Once we got validation from customer advisory boards, a business case, and budgets in place, we communicated much more frequently.”
Similarly, Anna Shutko, Product Marketing Manager at Supermetrics also acknowledged the role of internal communication in facilitating a smooth product launch. However, she communicates with necessary teams, rather than adopting a companywide approach.
“When we’re introducing a product to the roadmap and creating a go-to-market plan, we adopt different approaches depending on whether it’s a self-serve or sales-assisted funnel.
“If it’s self-serve, we tend to communicate mainly with the growth team, marketing, and support teams. However, if the priority is on the sales-assisted funnel, we liaise with the aforementioned teams, and talk to sales, as they’ll be provided with extra materials.
“In terms of communication, I usually have regular meetings with the managers as I’m building the GTM strategy. Then, I give a presentation to whoever else needs to be briefed and share the folder with all the organized materials.
“Accountability and responsibility are pivotal when creating a go-to-market plan. So, I have the presentation and we have a process outlined and documented; the document is updated at regular intervals, so everyone can always take a look in case they have a question. The key is to have all the info structured so that everyone knows where to look for it.”
How to build a communication culture
Relations between product marketing and analysts are at their strongest when a solid communication culture is in place. Although a product marketer contributes to the creation of a culture where communication is prominent, the company itself has a huge role to play in consolidating the principles of a cohesive communication strategy.
There are various ways companies can implement measures to encourage internal communication but this will vary depending on how the company structure has been organized.
For instance, if there’s a horizontal structure in place, this will present more avenues for product marketers to collaborate with senior management figures and attend meetings with CEOs.
On the other hand, if product marketers are stifled in their efforts to communicate with respective teams, this can seriously hinder their productivity and efforts, a perspective shared by Silvia Kiely Frucci:
“I think product marketing is the first job that encompasses everything, but also if we’re unable to interact with everyone, in some cases, the role doesn’t make any sense - in my opinion.
“To bridge these gaps, we need to make sure we’re constantly in conversation with one another; reach out to your manager and create a cost model which obliges you to speak with everyone. When I’d finished and spoken with each team, they A) knew what I did, B) understood the value I could bring and, C) were more receptive to talking with me in the future.”
Want to learn more?
Market research is an invaluable part of not just product marketing, but the overall organizational function. It helps us to understand what prompts the customer to purchase products within the market and, ultimately, identify how we can position our products in such a way that they stand out from the crowd.
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