The Art of Product Marketing is based on the concept that the Product Marketer is a “mini general manager”. It is the Product Marketer that must rally the resources inside and outside of the company around the offering. In addition, the Product Marketer must motivate team members to see the vision, be consumed with passion for the product or service and prioritize their workloads to accommodate the needs and requirements of the offering.
Creating Value: Using Product Marketing Strategically
Product Marketing is a unique function that, if executed properly, links all functions within an organization around the single goal of delivering a compelling product or service to market in a consistent manner with the company’s overall goals and strategy. After working with a variety of Fortune 2000 and emerging growth companies, it is clear that the Product Marketing function is often less than optimal in most organizations. The usual explanations for lackluster performance typically include politics, lack of head-count, lack of budget, and timing.
While these explanations are applicable in some cases, they usually mask deeper-seated issues. As the layers of the “onion” are peeled back, one can find more fundamental issues that inhibit optimization within Product Marketing. Specifically, the root causes uncovered in the majority of ten Product Marketing audits performed can be clustered around six particular “breakage points”. The good news is that each breakage point is manageable and, if harnessed, can be directly correlated with improving the effectiveness of one’s Product Marketing efforts and should lead to increased revenue, profitability and market penetration.
Product Management vs. Product Marketing
Before discussing the breakage points, a working definition of Product Marketing and the reasons why Product Marketing differs from Product Management must be established. In its simplest form, Product Marketing is responsible for all outbound marketing activities, while Product Management is responsible for all inbound marketing activities. Another way to conceptualize the role of Product Marketing versus that of Product Management is to imagine the Development organization on the left, the Field organization on the right, and an interface in the middle comprised of both Product Management and Product Marketing. In this scenario, Product Management is an extension of Development and filters incoming and outgoing information to Development, while Product Marketing performs the same role, but for the Sales. While there is almost nothing that passes through the filter that Product Marketing and Product Management do not both touch, one group acts as the primary owner/driver/ contributor while the other may contribute in a secondary or information only manner.
Market or Technology Driven?
Another factor that has a great impact on the role of Product Marketing is the reporting structure. If Marketing is viewed as a strategic role within an organization and is responsible for driving the product strategy, Product Marketing and Product Management usually reside within the Marketing department. On the other hand, if an organization is primarily technology-driven, it is usually safe to say that Product Management will reside within the Development organization. Either organizational structure can work effectively, but each requires a bridge to Development that is either built between Product Marketing and Product Management or between Product Management and Development. In the first scenario, tight collaboration on defining roles and responsibilities must occur, or the road ahead may be rocky.
The Quarterback of Marketing
At the end of the day, Product Marketing can be viewed as the quarterback of Marketing. Product Marketing is a collection of “mini-general managers”. The goal and focus for any Product Marketing team is to conceive, develop, deliver, penetrate and end-of-life the most successful product(s) within its niche with successful repeat performances again and again. Building a succession of revenue curves that are timed to sustain the growth rates the organization demands. To complicate the issue, there are circumstances where the most savvy Product Marketer will even cannibalize their own products and services, before a competitor has the opportunity to do so, based on a growth strategy.
The Product Marketer is a rare bird who must be able to work cross- functionally and be exceptional at building relationships. Because all functions of a company are involved, however, a need to be able to collaborate with different personality types within the organization, including analyticals, drivers, expressives, and amicables, also exists. In addition, the Product Marketer must be able to write, research, present information in a creative manner that simplifies very detailed, technical features and communicates those benefits in a style that resonates with a lay person. In addition, this individual should be technically competent in order to communicate effectively with the Development team, have the intellect to direct the tactical strategies for a product to reach revenue projections, and possess salesmanship to effectively sell the product both internally and externally.
The successful Product Marketer has many characteristics of an entrepreneur–they are extremely passionate, dedicated, driven, will not take no for an answer and will do whatever it takes to be successful. Always be on the lookout for these great talents as they are scarce resources. Also, be sure to lead this group or they will lead you.
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