Speaking Market into Product. Speaking Product into Market.

In answer to the question: what is product marketing?

Product Marketing speaks market into product, and product into market.

The role of the Product Marketer is as an expert and advocate for a product’s market. Whether they own or inform commercial strategy, the product marketer works to discover, describe, and define a population of buyers both now and into the future. Through a deep understanding of the competitive landscape and of individual stakeholder personas, the product marketer is tasked with crafting a message that is clear, consistent, and compelling, and is responsible for delivering that message in ways that are relevant and impactful.

Organizationally, Product Marketing sits between Product Management, Field Marketing, and Sales. As an expert in the product’s addressable market, it is the responsibility of Product Marketing to work closely with Product Management to ensure that features on product roadmaps are competitive, produce real value for the customer, and are aligned to the business’s overall commercial strategy. That is what it means to speak the market into product.

But product marketing also has to speak product into the market. Here, Product Marketing creates messaging for use by field marketing when developing high impact campaigns for demand and lead generation. This involves crafting language, positioning, and strategy documents to enable field campaigns, but also collaborating with field marketing to ensure that campaigns are consistent with core message, accurate, and impactful. The messaging that Product Marketing creates is also delivered to Sales, but translated according to the specific needs of that function. This involves the creation of tools and collateral, of course, but also enablement. In order to most effectively enable sales, it is vital for product marketing to have a close relationship with sales team, actively work to understand their unique needs, and deliver training and materials that actually make a difference in the field. Too often, Product Marketers lack a sales background, and so lack empathy. They focus their efforts on product and field marketing support, and merely throw materials over the fence at sales. This not only represents a missed opportunity to garner feedback from the field, but also a missed opportunity to have a significant impact on morale as sales is left to flounder and go it alone.

The role of product marketing is to speak market into product, and product into market. If we take this seriously, then the role of a product marketer ultimately becomes that of an advocate:

  • an advocate of customers who have real needs that we can meet in product,
  • an advocate for product managers who want to see commercial success and widespread product adoption,
  • an advocate for marketing functions that work earnestly to create high impact campaigns, and
  • an advocate for sales colleagues who face huge challenges in the field and are desperate for education and enablement.

When I think about product marketing, then, I ultimately think about the importance of the position to the people it serves, and feel strongly that putting service at the center as a core value of the role increases collaboration, mitigates against an imbalance in priority between product, marketing, and sales, and generates enthusiastic alignment within an organization in support of a common vision.