Product Marketing: Art, science and magic

Disciplines and practices often get described as either an art, or a science or sometimes both. Product marketing comes close to that definition. We’ve all heard that it’s actually both an art and a science. The work of the left brain and the right brain: The melding of the strategic with the tactical, the abstract and the technical, the planning and execution. All this suitably explains why Product Marketing Management (PMM) is one of the most grueling, most misunderstood and (fortunately) the most rewarding functions in the business world. Not everyone can be a product marketer precisely because of the demand from business that PMMs be able to do it all.

It is often said that product marketing sits at the intersection of product, marketing, sales and customer support. The expectation is that PMMs align to the product strategy and roadmap, develop competitive positioning for the product and bring it to market. Subsequently, PMM helps generate demand for the solution to deliver top line growth while ensuring customer adoption and success. This sounds simple when read in one sentence, but reality (or rather, magic) is revealed when you double click it.

The product strategy alignment means PMMs must have technical depth to understand enough to translate into customer messaging. But customer messaging alone is insufficient until they truly understand the competitive landscape and figure out what the right positioning, and differentiated messaging, ought to be. This involves getting to know competition and talking to industry analysts. Rubber meets the road when product messaging is successfully delivered by sales. No matter how compelling, unless sales is bought into it and can close deals, it’s an exercise in futility. Enter sales enablement. From product training, competitive knowledge, sales pitch, sales playbooks – all the deliverables needed to get a sales force ready to win.

But sales will only go so far without demand generation. ‘What has product marketing done lately to deliver leads and pipeline?’, often a question asked by executives. Now comes the work of getting together with all marketing peers – field/events, customer marketing, marketing communications, marketing operations – to deliver compelling content for driving demand. So now the product is in the market, what can be done to drive greater user adoption, how can we reduce churn, what can we do to drive upsells? These questions come back to PMM to work with their product management peers and customer success teams and drive strategic projects like product led growth and NPS.

Take a closer look at all of the above and it’s nothing short of some sort of magic. Not the David Copperfield type, but definitely some concoctions are at work — the art and the science, the abstract and the technical, the left brain and the right brain.