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Why is Product Marketing crucial to growth? How do you drive a wider understanding of the discipline?

Product Marketing | Sales Enablement | Go-to-Market | Competitive Intelligence

Product Marketing starts with understanding customer needs from the  inception of the product to sale and renewal. Product marketers act as  the voice of the customer while working with product management and  engineering to create a feedback loop.

They also enable sales with the  resources to win deals and renewals. This scope is large and crucial to  ensure there is a holistic view of customer expectations throughout a  customer lifecycle.

In larger B2B SaaS organizations, Product  Marketing (which may be called Marketing) often consists of several  different groups: Inbound, Events, Content, Field etc., which  collaborate regularly. In smaller companies or industries which have  traditionally not had this function, it is common to have significantly  fewer product marketers. Often the early leaders in an organization must  make a case for the discipline.

In order to learn from Product  Marketing best practices across other organizations, I attended the  Product Marketing Summit (#pmm, #productmarketingalliance, #productmarketingsummit, #productmarketing) last week in San Francisco.

While there, I connected with two fellow product marketing leaders: Elizabeth Brigham (Liz), Head of Product Marketing, Software, at Morningstar and Locke Truong, Head of Global Product Marketing at Ingram Micro Cloud.

The excerpts of my conversation with Liz are below; I have posted my conversation with Locke in another article focused on the challenges that product marketers face.

What was the evolution of product marketing in your organization?

Liz: When I joined Morningstar, Product Marketing was very limited in its  scope and often only involved the more tactical aspects of marketing of  product – doing a one-pager, creating a website etc. There wasn’t a  collective strategy starting with the business objective, followed by  product positioning and messaging, building content once and then  distributing it across various marketing channels.

That’s the mind shift  I have been trying to drive both on my team and across the  organization. I’ve been on several educational missions with leadership,  product management, sales teams and global teams illustrating how to  best collaborate and partner with product marketing. The best way to ‘Show and not Tell’ was through an initial launch we went through which started with a  comprehensive Go-To-Market (GTM) plan bringing in the right  stakeholders.

The evolution over the last couple of years has been  to put in place standard processes, programs, and the right teams to  support these programs. What has been key for us is building  very strong relationships across these four teams – product, marketing,  sales and service - and consistently communicating the value we’re  driving in the business with leadership. These great  partnerships in these areas have strengthened the role of product  marketing and have more importantly strengthened how we interact with  our clients.

What were your key take-aways from the PMM Summit?

Liz: From  a leadership perspective, I loved hearing conversations regarding  setting the foundation to recruit the right talent and grow the team.  This has been top-of-mind for me since I have grown the product  marketing team nearly three-fold over the eighteen months. Setting up a  recruiting process that is repeatable, with a bias-free interview  structure while driving buy-in from across the organization after the  initial screening was key.

The other big takeaway from the  conference is how to we put the buyer and user front and center. For us,  in the financial services industry, there are a lot of regulations and  hence we are often 5-10 years behind the technology adoption curve.

It  is product marketing’s role to put the customer first and focus on  understanding their problems and the competitive landscape. In  comparison, product management is more focused on specific use cases,  users and how to develop a delightful experience that drives repeat  usage. Marrying product management and product marketing is crucial to  winning and retaining customers.

There were a number of  customer-centric sessions that I learned from, be it scaling win-loss  reviews, ensuring product marketing has a seat at the table during  market research before a product is built, to understanding which users  don’t currently use your products and why. This deep understanding of  customers and buyers at those firms is especially crucial for  established companies which have large existing customer bases.

What would you like to see in future PMM summits?

Liz: I’d like to see smaller groups sessions so we can focus on specific  topics that some of us are dealing with more immediately -- be it  recruiting, competitive pressures or product positioning. It’s a great  way to ask deeper questions and learn from other leaders in the  industry.

Thanks so much Liz for sharing your thoughts and Go Blue (#goblue, #umich)!

Originally posted on LinkedIn

Written by:

Priya Ramamurthi

Priya Ramamurthi

An experienced marketing professional with a passion for technology and experience across a variety of industries. Led a startup to acquisition by Google and enabled overseas expansion.

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Why is Product Marketing crucial to growth? How do you drive a wider understanding of the discipline?