Are you product-led? It’s efficient! It scales! So much of the discussion about the state of the art in product strategy starts and ends with the notion that your app can — practically should — be the single surface of interaction between your company and your customer.
But a common misconception is that product led means there’s just one job description for all the jobs to be done. In reality, leading with the product means making your app the center of gravity and a source of truth for a set of more diverse product-focused roles, even beyond the product team.
And so it goes that product marketing, one of the most broadly-defined and hardest-to-hire roles in the organization, has become even more inconsistently scoped with the rise of product led.
Sure, product marketing is responsible for launching products and features into the market, devising product positioning and messaging, and articulating use cases and differentiation in the service of both sales and customer enablement. But where does that fit in the product-led organization? What’s the top responsibility, and how is it measured? What influence is there over product roadmap and design? And what background and experience define a product marketer ready to thrive alongside the product management team?
We partnered with the Product Marketing Alliance to find some clarity around and bring more rigor to the state of product marketing in 2019. As a complement to our annual State of Product Leadership Report, the State of Product Marketing Report includes findings from a survey of more than 600 product marketers on five continents across B2B, B2C, B2E, and marketplace companies including Amazon, Booking.com, Care.com, Databricks, Estee Lauder, Facebook, Google, HubSpot, Kabbage, LinkedIn, Roche, Salesforce, Twilio, and Virgin.
Here are some highlights from the research:
- Most product marketers are responsible for at least three product lines, with 33% of respondents overseeing five or more. This could indicate that the product marketing role may be under-resourced, which is also a key frustration reported in the survey.
- Speaking of frustrations, the top three reported frustrations suggest the product marketing role is highly valued but poorly structured, with too little support and visibility:
- Lack of understanding about responsibilities
- Limited bandwidth and too much work
- Not enough influence in the company
- Despite role ambiguity, product marketers feel responsible for top-line business metrics. Over half of respondents count generating revenue as a KPI, 45% increase the MQL pipeline, and 42% focus on customer retention.
- In addition to shifting from tactical to strategic, the top advice for decision-makers is to invest in product marketing earlier and hire an executive leader to tie product marketing to driving business growth.
The report also includes full interviews with some of the leaders in the field from companies like HubSpot, InVision, Spotify, Twitter, and Uber. Even I got into the mix and provided some of my best insights about how to influence leadership and effectively partner with the product management team:
- Answer with maybe. This is a killer skill because it means not just anchoring against urgency. Instead, think about the importance and look for underlying trends that actually drive opportunity. Given what we know about under-resourced product marketing teams, scale comes from looking for root cause and prioritizing outcomes over outputs.
- Bring a clear focus on not just who any product or feature is important to, but why. Product marketing can use behavioral data and market data together to improve segmentation and more clearly and specifically articulate both pain and the value of the solution. That’s ultimately where ROI comes from.
- When we’re doing our job, product marketers don’t rest on assumptions or trends alone. We take the past and ask what’s going to change. Where should we be anxious? Do we understand the intersection of behaviors, behavioral economics, and economics? There’s value in knowing how much to milk the cow and how much risk to seek.
Download the full State of Product Marketing Report to see the complete analysis, get insights from top product marketers around the industry, and view top trends and themes for becoming product-led.
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