Latest research on the State of Product Marketing highlights the defining skills of great Product Marketers:
Above all other skills, strong communication was ranked as the most important skill a Product Marketer needs to possess.
As cross-functional connectors, Product Marketers must be able to effectively persuade, negotiate, and present information in a way that motivates meaningful action.
If a Product Marketer fails at effective communication, collaboration across product development, lead generation, sales enablement, service delivery, onboarding, and advocacy fall apart. This internal friction means fragmented customer experiences and an inability to innovate quickly based on the greatest customer needs.
For Product Marketers, strong communication means listening to and understanding customers at scale, using data to craft the product story and vision, rallying teams around the critical steps needed to deliver on changing market needs, and empowering frontline teams with the messaging they need to guide customers along their journey.
Developing strong communication requires several key things:
What does strong communication look like in practice for Product Marketers?
For a Product Marketer to fulfill the full potential of their role, there has to be an emphasis on strengthening communication with stakeholders, peers, and customers.
What does strong communication look like in practice?
Product Marketers spend a lot of time in meetings. In many of these meetings, they’re synthesizing customer insights for teams to apply back to their projects or initiatives.
For these insights and recommendations to land, Product Marketers must deliver a message that resonates with each person in the room.
It’s not always easy keeping sales teams engaged, especially now that most of these meetings happen virtually. The distractions and opportunities to tune-out are amplified. But developing a collaboration strategy between Marketing and Sales is critical to growth.
This puts even more pressure on Product Marketers to ensure that their delivery is engaging from start to finish. The key? Keep the content focused on how you’re helping them meet their sales goals rather than on how great the new offer is.
When your content is structured to keep everyone engaged — and caters to a specific audience — you’ll be better equipped to keep their attention and drive intended outcomes.
Being a Product Marketer requires you to listen to customers as well as cross-functional teams to understand pain points and priorities.
Active listening is critical to gathering the information you need to inform and execute strategies.
Critical elements of active listening include:
Not only is active listening important in making sure that the person you’re speaking with feels heard, but it’s also fundamental in ensuring that you leave the conversation with a clear understanding of what they need and the role you play in delivering on that need.
Customer interviews are a big part of the Product Marketer’s customer research process. These interviews uncover critical insights that drive growth decisions. Ensuring that these interviews are conducted in a way that uncovers the most important information and leaves the customer feeling heard is important.
Product Marketers are constantly required to translate data and messages across teams.
As the connectors of product, marketing, sales, success, and strategy, Product Marketers have to connect the dots to ensure that what is built and delivered will have the ultimate impact.
Every frontline team should feel empowered to gather and share what they’re hearing from the field. It is the Product Marketer’s responsibility to build a culture and process that encourages gathering, sharing, and acting upon this information.
The best way to ensure that there is a consistent flow of communication and collaboration around the customer is to create a centralized hub for feedback sharing as well as a standing Voice of Customer meeting.
Having one source of truth for customer feedback is a powerful way to keep teams aligned around the customer.
Product Marketers are often tasked with communicating customer insights broadly across the organization. These customer insights are critical to company culture and decision making, but could easily go ignored if not delivered in a compelling way.
Get executive buy-in and bring together cross-functional stakeholders to review the insights and learnings before it’s shared more broadly. This also helps to ensure that the insights and feedback are owned by everyone.
To put it simply, empathy is to recognize and understand others perspectives on a situation.
It is critical for Product Marketers to use empathy when making roadmap, positioning, and journey decisions. Understanding customer needs and perspectives is core to a Product Marketer representing and advocating for the customer at every step of the journey.
Empathy helps us understand:
Whether it’s a new product, feature, package, or partnership, Product Marketers are responsible for creating the positioning to tie the offer to customer value. This is a science more than it is an art.
Updating your positioning should be focused specifically on what will resonate most with your intended audience.
When it’s time to make tough choices about which benefits or pain points to include, knowing your customers’ priorities make those decisions much easier.
When you use the exact language your customers use, it’s not surprising that those words resonate with other, similar people: your prospects.
There are a variety of reasons and psychological principles that could explain why mirroring your customers’ language is so persuasive.
We hear often that Product Marketing struggles to get investment in comparison to other Marketing counterparts, like Demand.
The best way to overcome this is to tie everything to business results.
Lauren Culbertson advises that you prove how more PMM investment equates to more revenue:
Effectively communicating the impact of your work is essential to you getting a seat at the table, getting the resources and investments you need, and getting buy-in for testing new strategies and initiatives.
When there is clarity in your role and your contributions to revenue, getting buy-in and support becomes a lot easier.
Step 1: Look at the baseline:
2. Chart Growth Levers
What are the levers that could grow the business? How much do each of the levers cost?
3. Model the Growth Case
With this level of detail, you can make the case, negotiate the tradeoff, and show how PMM can increase business.
Some of the biggest issues that Product Marketers face in their role are a result of breakdowns in communication:
Overcoming these issues starts with an emphasis on strong communication. When you turn customer insights into actionable data, and rally teams around steps to address customer and business goals, you’ll define your role, secure a seat at the table, and align all teams around the customer.
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