Product Marketing comes in different flavors. I like to think of it as a culinary experience — the same ingredients with a few secret spices can change the flavor and taste. I heard about a genovese ramen yesterday and I couldn’t imagine the flavors until the host mentioned it's creamy and delicious and brings together the culinary worlds of Japan and Italy.

When I started to learn about product marketing I had to find out what our secret ingredients would be. This allowed me to redefine what product marketing means and establish a new definition or recipe for portfolio messaging, bringing our core value as PMMs and true differentiators.

So, what are the secret ingredients in product marketing that drive product and solution adoption and industry growth?

1. Buyer personas

2. Messaging and positioning

3. Product and solution launches

4. Market and competitive intelligence

Buyer Personas

Last week, an aspiring PMM asked, "where do I start to make sure we have the right buyer personas and that we have buy-in across product, sales and marketing stakeholders?"

The perfect question for solving the perfect problem and finding the right solution.

Start with the stakeholders: make sure you are in agreement about the approach and how the buyer personas are going to benefit the teams.

Purpose: Is this a buyer persona refresh? Or are we creating a new buyer persona that we have never spoken to before?

Value: Are these buyer personas going to help align the efforts of sales, marketing and account executives going forward?

Include sales, product and marketing leaders in the buyer persona initiative with internal stakeholder interviews. It’s not a PMM effort, but a company wide initiative. Inform and educate all teams across the company — even services, engineering and operations.

If there is an existing or new sales methodology rollout, tie the buyer persona to that initiative to bring synergy across sales, product and marketing efforts. MEDDPICC — the champion and economic buyer are key elements in the buyer persona. (Metrics, economic buyer, decision criteria, decision process, paper process, indication of pain, champion, competition).

3 personas to define new audience segments in enterprise

1. Decision Maker (Economic Buyer)

2. Business Initiative Lead (Champion)

3. Practitioner/Influencer (User)

Messaging and positioning

Once our buyer personas are established, we work on what we love to do — messaging and positioning. We consolidated  both the messaging and positioning frameworks into one to be the central source of truth for all product marketing efforts, from content development to launch and enablement to press releases and announcements.

A single voice of the market and the customer is necessary to build a cohesive and consistent theme for the story arc. And that ownership lies with the PMM to be the steward and advocate for the market and the customer.

Messaging and Positioning framework

Product and solution launch

Every launch has a story — sometimes a good collaboration and mostly ones focused on the struggle. A launch is not a destination, it's a journey. The day of the announcement is not the be all and end all, that’s when the launch starts. We need to measure true success by tracking the metrics post launch. Every step in the launch is a milestone, even the day of announcement. The launch is complete when we meet our key metrics.

So, let’s go to the day we decide to launch our breakthrough product or solution. Now, timing is everything, make sure the launch is prioritized in the right way to bring the right resources together. Once we rolled out the product launch framework and got buy in, we hired a product launch manager to streamline and facilitate end-to-end product launches across product, marketing and sales teams.

Step 1: Planning the launch 

PMM and PM score the launch and then it’s reviewed by the committee to sign off on the correct launch tier.

Not every launch is a tier 1 launch. This prioritization helps to ensure we are strategic and focused on key initiatives across the company.

Step 2: Collective alignment 

Product marketing, product management and the cross functional teams come together to make magic happen. An annual conference is a great venue for a big announcement, but make sure there is a rhythmic drum beat throughout the year.

Early beta testing is crucial to make sure we have our champions and customers advocating for this product or solution. This helps with PR and AR tremendously so that we are not thinking about champions as an afterthought.

Step 3: Post launch success 

Our launch is only getting started on the day of the announcement. How we measure and define our 30–90–180 day metrics can make or break a launch. It’s easy for us as product marketers to move on to the next launch initiative, but it's our responsibility to follow through and drive success.

Market and competitive intelligence

Some companies are laser focused on the competition that we cannot see beyond to expand our potential. True innovation comes when we surpass the competition and bring ideas forward that leapfrog the current spectrum. Very few companies do this well and there’s where market intelligence is playing a key role to redefine the industry and the category itself.

Our customers and partners have done their due diligence before they even consider a vendor as an option. How can we prepare ourselves to have a pulse on the market and ride the wave for the new trends? Customer expectations have evolved in the past decade and what was the way before is not an answer anymore. Being agile and flexible is key to lead the industry and serve customers of the future.

That’s where market and competitive intelligence is not just in the hands of leadership anymore, it needs to be top-down and bottom-up. There are patterns in the field that may not be communicated at the right time and impact sales. Competitive intelligence curation and distribution needs to be streamlined and methodical in their approach to share and capture latest intel. This is how the entire company can have the pulse on the market and the competition.

Product marketing: The essence

Every product marketing team is tasked with day to day projects and deadlines. It’s up to us as PMM to own our value proposition and drive strategic initiatives across the company. Our true essence is in finding the unique ingredients and flavors that make the recipe outstanding.

Within the PMA (product marketing alliance) community, we have a voice and a platform to share and learn from each other and build the next generation of product marketing leaders.