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12 min read

Why your PMM strategies fail and how Product Marketing Certified: Core can help you win

Product Marketing Strategy | Core

Before diving into the nuances of why strategies might falter, let's grasp the essence of product marketing

An overview of product marketing: What it is, why it's important, and its benefits

Product marketing goes beyond just selling a product – it's a strategic approach to understanding your audience, telling compelling stories, and positioning your offering in a way that resonates with potential customers. 

When executed effectively, product marketing builds trust and loyalty by clearly conveying the value proposition of your product in a language your audience understands. This bridges the gap between your solution and customers, creating sustainable demand

Ultimately, robust product marketing increases brand awareness, enhances customer retention and revenue contribution, and propels your product above competitors.

Now we’ve got that covered, let’s dive into the good stuff.

Why product marketing strategies fail

When product marketing strategies flop, it’s rarely due to just one thing that went wrong. More often, it’s a bunch of miscues that see your strategy sink. Let’s break down the key mistakes that can doom even the best-intentioned product launch plans.

A lack of clear objectives

Kicking off a product marketing plan without concrete goals is a big no-no. Strategies without firm objectives quickly lose focus and direction. Everyone gets confused about what they’re trying to achieve.

Defining specific, measurable goals is essential to keep all efforts centered and on track.

Neglecting audience insights

Many product marketing strategies fail because PMMs don’t do their homework on the target audience. 

You can’t create an effective strategy in a vacuum. Getting deep insights into customer needs, behaviors, and preferences is crucial. Otherwise, you’re essentially guessing what people want. 

Bad assumptions lead to products and messaging that are tone-deaf to what your audience truly cares about. Asking the right questions through surveys, focus groups, and interviews prevents this.

Poor positioning

Positioning is about carving out a distinct space in the customer’s mind for your product versus competitors. Weak positioning leaves your product in a fuzzy middle ground with nothing unique standing out. 

If you don’t crisply communicate your value proposition, customers won’t “get” why they should buy from you. Testing different positioning statements during development helps you find what resonates before launch.

Not conveying benefits

Some product plans stumble by hyping up specific features rather than explaining a product’s key benefits. Customers don’t think in terms of specs – they want to know how your product will make their lives easier. 

Simply touting capabilities misses the emotional component of decision-making. Instead, spell out how each feature delivers tangible value. This drives home relevance to the customer’s needs.

Pricing missteps

Pricing has an enormous impact on how customers perceive your product. Cost too much, and budget-minded buyers balk. Price too little, and you leave profit on the table while making people doubt the quality. 

Before launch, thoroughly test different pricing models with your audience. Find the sweet spot balancing value perception with revenue.

Inadequate storytelling

Human beings are wired to connect through stories and it’s common for some product marketing strategies to overlook this powerful tool. 

Without an engaging narrative woven throughout your campaigns, you miss chances to build an emotional bond with the customer. Storytelling is what breathes life into your product, transforming it from an offering into a relatable experience. 

Ignoring the competition

You can’t create an intelligent product marketing strategy without knowing your competitive landscape. But some companies focus too much on looking inward, making them miss out on the gold they could find by looking at their rivals. 

Not analyzing competitors’ strengths and weaknesses means you lack crucial context. Sizing up alternatives shows you where you can differentiate in the customer’s mind.

Limited distribution

Getting your product in front of customers takes more than just promotional campaigns. You need a distribution plan that matches where and how your audience wants to buy. 

Limiting sales channels severely caps your reach. Make it easy for people to find and purchase your offering by being where they shop.

No measurement

Is your product marketing working? Many companies never find out because they failed to implement tracking and analytics

Without data, you’re just guessing. Put tools in place to measure awareness, leads generated, sales, word-of-mouth, and other key metrics. These insights allow you to continuously optimize activities and spending.

Overlooking continuous optimization

Successful product marketing requires agility – continually optimizing based on learnings from customers and real-time data. 

You can’t remain static in this role, and neither can your strategy. It needs to evolve based on the likes of feedback and market changes. You have to inspect and refine your strategy regularly to stay competitive. Standing still while everyone else moves forward simply won’t cut it.

10 key components of a successful product marketing strategy


Research is where it all starts for product marketers (PMMs) because it’s impossible to effectively launch and market a product without it. Your research process should be ever-evolving and ongoing before, during, and after launch. 

You should conduct a healthy balance of quantitative and qualitative research. When it comes to qualitative research, you want at least 10 related interviews to begin to identify trends, and those related interviews should have at least three common characteristics. 

Product marketing is responsible for generative research which often involves finding new opportunities and should work closely with product as they conduct their evaluative research. 

When it comes to that vital area of customer feedback, always talk to your customers in one way or another and make use of all the contact points you have with them. 

Competitor intel is also an ongoing task but is most crucial when you’re launching a new product or refreshing your messaging for an existing one. And don’t forget to familiarize yourself with the main differences between B2B and B2C research methods and use them accordingly.

Once you’re done, it’s important to use a trusted tool to validate your hypothesis and create a strong business case that examines the benefits, costs, feasibility, risks, and issues associated with your plan. 

Objectives and key results (OKRs)

The importance of measuring the impact of your work cannot be overstated. Tracking and reporting on the right OKRs will impact your influence, budget, and how heavily the C-suite invests in product marketing. 

To measure success you have to first garner a shared understanding of what you're trying to achieve and how to test if you’ve achieved it. The C-suite and other teams should also know exactly what product marketing is responsible for so your function doesn’t turn into everyone else's dumping ground for jobs they don’t want to do. 

Steer clear of vanity metrics and focus on the likes of your go-to-market (GTM) strategy, sales enablement, lead support/demand generation, and product adoption. 

Once you know which OKRs you care about and have a way to monitor them, create a reporting infrastructure around them. 


Personas are fictional characters you create based on research, and they represent segments of your market. They help to ensure you build the right products and features for the right people. Ideal customer profiles (ICPs) on the other hand are your ideal customers – easy to onboard, unlikely to churn, and eager to promote your product. 

How you build your personas will vary depending on your industry and product – there isn’t one standard that everyone uses. There are also some key differences between the attributes you include in a B2B persona versus a B2C persona. 

PMMs in the B2B space should take careful notice of the difference between their buyer and user personas and who they’re marketing to at the different stages of the journey. 

You should be relying on the knowledge within other teams to provide you with key info to create your personas and ICPs and make sure that sales are comfortable utilizing this knowledge during their pitches. Conduct interviews with both prospects and current customers and don’t forget to gather information relevant to your personas throughout the onboarding process. 

Positioning and messaging

Positioning is an internal process where you pin-point, refine, and articulate the unique benefits your product brings to the market – positioning should always come first before messaging. Understanding the market is crucial when it comes to your positioning as potential customers will look at the market context for clues about your product/service. 

Don’t start your positioning work by listing your features – start with the problem/s your product solves and go from there. Pinpoint the attributes that make you unique and find the customers that really care about them. 

Messaging lays the foundation for how you talk externally about your product to prospects and customers. Your positioning work feeds directly into your messaging and truly effective messaging is simple, clear, and consistent. 

Strong positioning involves storytelling. Creating a story around your brand makes you memorable, unifies your customer base, and inspires action. You can also create stories around who your personas are, bring them to life, and visualize the whole buyer/user journey. 

Go-to-market strategy

A go-to-market strategy is how a company brings a product to market. In general, there are three core components – your target audience, marketing plan, and sales strategy.

A GTM strategy aims to reduce costs, save time, keep everyone on the same page, ensure effective customer experiences, and establish a clear growth plan. 

The first step in any GTM plan is to collaborate with your cross-functional teams and identify what problems you have and what opportunities you have before you solve them. It also helps to categorize your launches in terms of their priority and tweak your plans accordingly. 

Take note of your marketing funnel here: The four main parts of the marketing funnel are awareness, interest, consideration, and decision. You should ensure that you have content lined up and ready to target customers at each stage of the funnel. Don’t neglect beta testing as this will provide invaluable information about what your customers want and how they interact with your product/feature. 

Once you have your plan, you need buy-in from your internal stakeholders to execute it, namely, product, sales, customer success, marketing, and engineering. And lastly, don’t forget the timing of a launch can make or break your plan. Avoid dates where people aren’t going to be at work or clashes with cultural events and big press days. 


There are very few areas as crucial to a product's chances of success as pricing and a few different methods you can use to land on the right pricing for your product. While not all PMMs are actively involved in pricing, it’s important to know your stuff and put yourself in a strong position should your job role expand in the future. 

The first thing to do is conduct thorough market research and let that inform your understanding of how much your customers are willing to pay, what level of value or return on investment your customers get from your product, and your competitors’ pricing.

The cost-plus pricing model involves working out how much it costs to produce your product and adding a profit margin to that number. 

Competitor-based pricing simply means you’re basing your prices on what others are charging in the same marketplace. There are pitfalls with this approach, though, and we’d recommend you combine it with other factors if you’re going to use it. 

Value-based pricing takes the perceived value of your product in each customer segment and prices based on that, so the price you charge can vary from customer to customer or from segment to segment. 

Dynamic pricing is the most flexible model of them all and it means selling the same product or service to different people for different prices at different times. 

And remember, it’s better to position yourself at the top or bottom of the scale as either the premium option or value brand in your marketplace. 


Communication skills are crucial to every part of a product marketer’s job. The role itself is super cross-functional, which means you need to be empathetic to your internal collaborators as well as your customers. 

Document key messages so nothing gets lost in translation or forgotten. Part of your job as a PMM is to inspire action – tell people how your projects, OKRs, and GTM plans all link back to the grander vision for the company. 

Using the right communication and collaboration tools will take a lot of the legwork out of this for you and your team; they’ll keep the way you communicate with your team and other teams consistent and straightforward. 

When it comes to meetings, shorter targeted meetings that focus on one internal segment as it were will be more effective than packing everyone in a room for an hour and making them listen to information that doesn’t directly affect them. Real communication is always a two-way street. Provide opportunities for questions and ideas from those around you and show you value their input – after all, labor leads to love. 

Everybody wants to work with someone who knows their stuff, so knowing your key numbers will help you build credibility and very quickly communicate what’s going on with your function. In the same breath, people communicate differently, so try to tailor your communication style to suit people’s preferences and learning styles and demonstrate your points visually where you can. 

Sales enablement

Sales enablement aims to provide your sales team with the information, content, and tools needed to engage prospective customers through their buying journey and convert them into customers

Sales enablement relies on your salespeople being comfortable and well-versed in your positioning, messaging, product capabilities, and their own sales pitches. In general, your sales enablement documents will be split into ones that are just for internal use and external, customer-facing ones. 

On the internal side, you’ve got things like battlecards, sales scripts, product sheets, and competitor comparisons, and then on the customer-facing side, you’ve got items like blog posts, guides, reports, case studies, product demos, sales one-pagers, webinars, and so on. 

We’d advise that you do some research into the best sales enablement tools out there and find the one that will work best for your needs and goals

Just because this activity is focused on your sales team, doesn’t mean that the customer isn’t the center of everything you do – when it comes to evaluating any document you should be asking yourself how this benefits the customer. It should also be clear to you and your internal stakeholders how your sales enablement tactics feed into the company’s overarching objectives. 

Getting buy-in from your salespeople on your strategy and tactics ensures they’re as excited as you to get working on them. And like everything else, sales enablement must be measured to see how successful your tactics are in the real world. The most common metrics to track relating to sales enablement are content usage, win rate, selling time, and sales confidence. 


Onboarding is a fundamental part of creating great customer experiences and ensures everyone who signs up for your product can get the most out of it. Your onboarding work aims to improve your customer’s understanding and success with your product, lays the groundwork for a lasting, trusting relationship, and saves time further down the line by preempting some common customer questions. 

Your onboarding process will be specific to your company but there are certain steps that most companies should include so make sure to familiarize yourself with our framework guide. Best practice in this area means that you know your customer, reiterate your value, stay in contact with the customer, can measure your success, and your content is both personalized and broken down into easily digestible sections. 

A strong onboarding process will reduce churn, however, it’s just one way of helping you retain customers over the long term. You should also be looking carefully at customer feedback, creating a communication calendar for your customers, introducing a loyalty program, and setting up a customer advisory board. 

Nothing will validate your offering like a strong customer case study. Once you’ve got that glowing case study make sure it's shared far and wide where the right people will see it. 

Analysis and optimization

Analysis and optimization are so important because it helps you understand what’s working and therefore what to do more of, as well as what isn’t working so you can cut that out. Pretty much everything you do as a PMM will have to go through this process. 

Pin down what success looks like for you so you know what you’re measuring against – try not to get distracted by irrelevant data or vanity metrics. Analysis will involve both quantitative and qualitative research and you can’t build up a clear picture of what’s going on with your function without a mixture of the two. 

And of course, it makes sense to split your analysis by persona and market so you know which areas need more attention than others and how your tactics should change depending on which persona and market you’re looking at. 

As a product marketer, segmentation and product-market fit will likely be the basis of any of your projects because without product-market fit any other objectives are going to be near-impossible to meet. Don’t forget to implement the heart framework to test what’s going on at various stages of the customer journey. 

Hungry for more? 

The 10 key components we touched on above only scratch the surface. To truly understand how to create a killer product marketing strategy, dive into Product Marketing Certified: Core.

Completing this course will help you...

🤝 Grasp every element of the cross-functional and rapidly evolving discipline that is product marketing.

🎯 Market your product through its entire lifecycle and successfully meet your product marketing key performance indicators.

🥇 Stand out in the job market – more and more employers request PMMC certification as a prerequisite for job seekers.

🚀 Advance up the career ladder with your newfound knowledge, skills, and product marketing network.

✅ Become the total package. Product marketing is an incredibly varied role. Our curriculum covers all the nooks and crannies.

🔖 Show off to your peers with a shiny new certificate #braggingrights.

What’re you waiting for? 

Written by:

Stevie Langford

Stevie Langford

As a Senior Copywriter here at Product Marketing Alliance, Stevie loves to create content that's captivating, compelling, and informative. She's always open to new ideas, so feel free to get in touch!

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Why your PMM strategies fail and how Product Marketing Certified: Core can help you win