What do you do? What is product marketing?

Most people think I go to work and make fabulous TV commercials. While on occasion that is part of my scope, it is far from what I do on a regular basis. This post is for my husband, friends, and co-workers, who have asked me what I do in hopes of understanding how I spend my days or have been interested in exploring new career paths.

In a nutshell, the main role of product marketing is to act as the voice of the seller and apply those insights throughout the product journey: from product discovery to go-to-market. You’re responsible for helping build great products, translating products into compelling customer benefits, and actively acquiring and retaining customers. As you can see, product marketers are responsible for a breath of objectives and they achieve this by working at the centre of Product, Marketing, Sales, and Customer Service.

To make it more concrete, I’ve broken down the breath of responsibilities into four main categories.

  1. Product Strategy & Roadmap
  • Partner closely with the product manager, product designer, and researcher to draft PRDs (Product Requirements Document) by identifying user pain points, needs, and potential solutions
  • Support the product manager in analyzing the product competition, sizing the market, and prioritizing the product roadmap.

Day-to-day examples:

  • Brainstorm customer pain points and develop hypothesis-driven use cases based on previous research
  • Get on video calls and test product mock-ups with existing and prospective customers
  • Combine market and sales data, assumption, and variables to create a basic financial model and evaluate the impact of a feature

2. Positioning & Messaging

  • Understand customer pain points
  • Translate technical features of the product into benefits that resonate with potential customers
  • Own product communication across channels

Day-to-day examples:

  • Create a deep understanding of the customer, including demographics, motivations (emotional, social, and functional needs), day-to-day routine, consumption of information, influences
  • Visit customers where they use the product and shadow them throughout the day
  • Develop questionnaire to interview and shadow prospective and existing customers

3. Product go-to-market and customer acquisition

  • Convert prospective customers into buyers; optimize bottom-of-the funnel conversion
  • Align the impact and goals of a product launch and create the go-to-market plan

Day-to-day examples:

  • Brief cross-functional go-to-market teams on the product vision and KPIs; lead teams to develop a multi-channel communication and acquisition plan
  • Review creative assets and provide constructive feedback to the creative team, including copywriters, visual designers, and creative strategists
  • Analyze marketing funnel data which can include but is not limited to CPA of paid performance, CTR of app or email messaging, activation from web pages, MQLS to SQLs; develop hypotheses and experiments to increase conversion

4. Ongoing product engagement

  • Reduce churn by addressing customer issues and loss of engagement

Day-to-day examples:

  • Review customer support tickets and issues that have logged the most complains; translate issues into jobs-to-be-done and present findings to product management
  • Analyze product data and identify patterns of drop off
  • Identify the customer lifecycle with a product and opportunities to engage through communication, rewards, or improved product hooks

Something I often try to convey is that product marketing is still a developing discipline. Based on the company your roles and responsibilities will vary. The factors that I see influencing the difference is whether the company is B2B or B2C, if the product is hardware or software, and the background of the executive team.

  • B2B vs B2C: B2B marketers will often work more closely with the Sales team and focus on sales enablement (i.e. equipping Sales with the content and assets to successfully close deals). B2C marketers will likely aim to acquire through paid marketing and optimize self-serve customer onboarding.
  • Hardware vs software: Given the nature of hardware, there’s a tendency for product to develop via waterfall approach with longer timelines. Product marketers are planning for a single big launch every year — sometimes it can be 2–3 years! Software tends to have faster iteration cycles and require more agile launches. While complex software can equally take a long time to develop, product marketers in software will likely be managing many small rollouts. The challenge here is to tier launches and ensure external messaging is cohesive.
  • Leadership influence: The company’s origins and the executive team’s background will cause an organization to lean a certain way. For example, if the company is led by a product-centric executive, a product marketer’s time will be spent more supporting the product team with customer discovery and product launches. If the executive team is more sales-oriented, a product marketer may spend more time developing sales battle cards and sales assets.

If you’re looking for more information, the Product Marketing Alliance wrote an article that does a good job summarizing the essence of the role, and some quotes from leaders in the industry.

To my fellow product marketers, please share if you agree with the above or what you would add!

PMM @Square — NYC l Proud CDN l Traveller (pre-COVID)