When it comes to product marketing, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. At a recent mixer organized by GTM Buddy, product marketers discussed their diverse career paths, which included stints in engineering, sales, marketing, and even human resources.
This got us thinking. Is there a set of core skills strong product marketers have in common? A range of capabilities that can help one excel in product marketing?
Yes, and no.
If you are looking for that one secret recipe for success as a product marketer, we are sorry to disappoint. We don't believe there is one.
What we have is a list of 'ingredients' that can maximize your chances of success in a product marketing role. And like the good people we are, we'd love to share them with you.
#1 - A splash of strategic thinking
Strategy is at the heart of what product marketers do. From creating buyer personas to making launch plans, the ability to connect the dots sets excellent PMMs apart from the herd. The ability to step back and see the bigger picture helps product marketers deliver the most effective messaging to sales reps while being flexible enough to change course as needed.
#2 - A generous dose of writing talent
Clear and concise writing is foundational to all marketing roles. But, it is especially true for a cross-functional role like product marketing that works closely with product, sales, marketing, and customer success teams.
Product marketers create pitch decks positioning the product and presents competitive insights for differentiating their solution. They work on launch plans and may create blogs, press releases, and sales collaterals to drive product demand. A knack for good writing can help craft copy that places the product in the best possible light and resonates with stakeholders.
#3 - Dollops of cross-functional excellence
Product marketing is like riding five horses with just one rein. It is a cross-functional role without direct authority. It takes mad skills to rally colleagues from other teams to work together on messaging, product launches, competitive intelligence, and other projects.
It is crucial for a product marketer to build relationships with key stakeholders across leadership, product, sales, marketing, and customer service teams. The key to impactful cross-functional collaboration is to nurture and capitalize on relationships across different departments.
#4 - A double pinch of product and market knowledge
The clue is in the name. Product marketers need to KNOW what they are selling. Above all things, perhaps.
They must become subject matter experts on every product feature, each new use case, and even all the scenarios where their solution falls short. Then pair this detailed understanding of the product with market expertise to position the product and communicate its benefits to customers.
#5 - A drizzle of empathy
Creating buyer personas can help product marketers gain a deeper understanding of customer needs. What are the things customers care about? Whose opinions do they trust? What roadblocks do they face?
A product marketer can engage customers using a variety of touchpoints. They can interview customers directly, sit on sales calls, analyze customer support tickets, or scour social media to gather more information. A holistic understanding of the pain points of your customer, paired with genuine empathy, can lead to effective positioning and compelling messaging.
#6 - A dash of messaging and positioning proficiency
Who will benefit from your product? How should it be perceived in the market? What sets it apart from your competitors? Good product marketers can answer these questions and define an effective positioning for their product.
Everything from defining the ideal customer persona to your pricing strategy and customer acquisition tactics flows from this positioning. A messaging framework will then be developed based on the positioning foundation. This narrative is useful for communicating with customers, employee, investors, and other crucial stakeholders.
#7 - A sprinkle of storytelling skills
People are 22 times more likely to remember stories than facts alone. In order to win your customer's attention, you must craft a captivating story.
Unsurprisingly, the most successful product marketers are often master storytellers. They have a way of building resonant narratives that tie together the Who, the What, and the How in the most creative ways.
Product marketing is a rapidly evolving function with many responsibilities. There is space for creativity in strategy and ingenuity in execution. The skills listed above are not THE secret sauce for success in product marketing. They are well-established good-to-haves that can influence your impact as a product marketer. The rest is up to you 😀