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