Last week, I had the opportunity to join 800+ product marketers at the Product Marketing Summit

Some of the biggest woes of product marketers there were:

Our role as product marketers is not always well understood. It is common to get questions akin to:

  • Are you Product or Marketing?
  • Oh, could you fix the verbiage on the website?
  • Can you do some demand gen for me?

The asks can often be unending where an immediate response is needed

Rarely do these one-off requests consider overall strategy

Why is there confusion regarding Product Marketing?

Product Marketing sits at the intersection of Product, Marketing & Sales. Depending the stage of the company and exec expectations, it could roll up under the Product or the Marketing team. Often, product marketing is considered digital, social media or website work.

This narrow view misses the holistic customer-centric perspective that product marketers provide: driving strategy from product inception to launch and beyond to acquire new and retain existing customers.

I was curious to learn how other product marketing leaders had dealt with this challenge in their careers. I spoke with Locke Truong,Head of Global Product Marketing at Ingram Micro Cloud, to understand his experience; excerpts of my conversation with him are below.

My conversation with Elizabeth Brigham (Liz), Head of Product Marketing, Software, at Morningstar about why product marketing is crucial for growth is in a separate post.

What has been your experience with Product Marketing as a function starting from your days at Yahoo?

Locke: I started my product marketing career a decade ago at Yahoo! and to this day, I still get asked - can you please help polish the slides? For any seasoned product marketer, this question is nails on a chalkboard and epitomizes the still-nascent understanding of product marketing. Throughout my career stops (all tech companies), part of my role was/is to educate and justify my role. Often times, we get lumped with Marketing. Other times, we get confused with product management.

Why hasn’t product marketing crossed the chasm? I can’t say for sure as I’ve only worked for four companies as a product marketing leader. But based on conversations with product marketing peers, there’s a sense that certain B2B tech sectors have embraced the role of product marketing far greater than other sectors. Further, it depends on whether the company is a product- or sales-driven organization. In the former, product marketing has a more influential voice in the business and product strategy whereas the latter relies on product marketing mainly for sales readiness and enablement. Whether this is perceived as leadership or culture, it definitely impacts the role of product marketing.

How has product marketing evolved in your organization? How did you help influence the change?

Locke: When I joined Ingram Micro Cloud two years ago, product marketing was a fairly new function and comprised of a small team of five spread across different products. We were mainly responsible for outbound product marketing or activities after the product launch. Since then, we’ve tripled the team and vastly expanded our scope and responsibility. First, we’ve created an inbound product marketing team to produce market, competitive and customer insights to inform our product strategy and value proposition. Second, we drove the enhancement of our digital experience through the enhancement of our marketing site and the creation of a new partner site, the Go-to-Market Hub, which provides go-to-market automation for our partner resellers. And third (which is due to number two), we’re responsible for guiding the customer experience on our digital products – Cloud Marketplace, Go-to-Market Hub, Connect and CloudBlue. However, we’ll get the occasional – can you polish this slide?

What were your key takeaways from the PMM Summit?

Locke: There were many great sessions and I love the fact they ran a Sales Enablement Summit in parallel as that’s increasingly more vital to Sales and the role of product marketing. Three key takeaways:

  1. We’re not alone and we’ll all facing the same struggles of internal awareness and adoption of our enablement.
  2. Those that can accurately map out their customer journey to create a customer-first experience will have a huge advantage over their competitors.
  3. Don’t be afraid to test and fail. But do so quickly so you can learn and move forward.

What would you like to see in future PMM summits?

Locke: Bigger names for keynotes, participation from influential messaging agencies like CEB and more networking activities.

Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Locke!

Originally posted on LinkedIn