7 skills every product marketer needs

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.


Varun Ravichandran
VP, GTM, Vymo

“Far from being ‘just’ about positioning, messaging, and collateral, product marketing for enterprise products means figuring out how best to take products to various market categories - the solution packaging, the competitive positioning, the partner/distribution channel creation, the pricing, the enablement of sales teams…all of which involve switching between deep ground-level details and broad strategic direction. The best PMMs will balance these two tendencies well.”

#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.


Mike Berger
VP, Product Marketing, ClickUp

“Writing is an art form and is the most important foundational skill for a PMM, in my opinion.”

#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.


Hila Segal
VP, Product & Customer Marketing, Observe.ai

“Building diverse working relationships with different stakeholders across the organization is one of the most critical secret powers of a successful product marketer. Doing that not only gives you access to information and knowledge, but it will also help you collaborate more effectively on major projects.”

#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.


April Dunford
Founder, Ambient Strategy

“We can overcome the fear a buyer has of making a poor choice by helping them feel confident that they understand their options and the tradeoffs for each. We can't just focus on our solution - we have to paint a picture of the market and then explain our position in it.”

#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.


Yoni Solomon
VP, Product Marketing, Gympass

“The foremost skill a product marketer needs is empathy. Why? Because it'll be very hard to connect with the audience you're selling to without first having an understanding of how to actually help them with the challenges they're facing. Empathy requires expertise and market knowledge and inspires the creativity needed to effectively storytell and communicate. It informs and inspires everything we do in the role.”

#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.


Dharshan Chandran
Associate Director, Product Marketing, Whatfix

“A product marketer should excel in messaging and positioning because everything they do finally boils down to this. How well do you position your product in a differentiated manner, and how well do you craft messaging around it to appeal to your audience.”

#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.


Samrat Krishna
Head of Product Marketing, DarwinBox

“Being able to seed an idea is a complex process. And stories are your best bet at doing it sustainably. A good story is infectious, creates a sense of strong emotion, and allows humans to bond. And, at the end of the day, isn't that what every interaction is all about? Finding a partnership in your customer.”

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 😀

About the author

Author

Nehal Firdous

Nehal is a content marketer at GTM Buddy. His previous experiences span marketing, copywriting, and sales enablement for companies like Google, Lenovo, and Kapture.

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