This article includes key takeaways from Stephanie Bowker and Roxana Siu-Calviac’s talk on how to scale product marketing. Check out the…
3 key mindsets
Mindset #1: Start with pain
Your customers can all relate to the pain your product solves. But they can’t necessarily relate to how your product solves it, especially if you’re building a new category or tackling an existing category with a new product type. Start with “why” your product exists — i.e. the pain your customers are experiencing — before moving to your “what” — i.e. your product. When you create messaging that resonates and speaks directly to a well-known pain that your prospects can relate to, you can change the market by educating your target audience on how the product you’re building enables them to solve their pain point.
Mindset #2: Constantly evaluate Product/Market Fit
Regardless of which market you’re tackling, the landscape is constantly evolving. Technology is driving new products and creating new needs meaning that whatever it is that your customers might want now, there’s a good chance that it won’t be the same in the future. Product/Market Fit is not so much a goalpost as it is a fluctuating scale. Keeping open channels to communicate with your customers as well as actively researching new solutions emerging in your market and adjacent spaces is imperative to keep a dynamic view of PMF.
Mindset #3: Go uncomfortably narrow
As a startup, it’s natural to want to make your product available to everyone. Yet, honing down on a subset of potential customers is almost always a recipe to trigger faster growth. This is especially true in the early stages of your startup: the more narrow you go — i.e. focused on a precise and very limited target — the easier it will be for you to execute your go-to-market. Defining who you’re writing for, who you’re building for, and who you’re selling to is straightforward when you’re catering to a homogenous target audience. It also makes showcasing success to similar companies a lot more obvious, further increasing your traction.
4 key best practices
Best practice #1: Product Marketing in a nutshell
Product Marketing is all about figuring out who your ideal customer is and what your product does for them. In order to do this, product marketers put in place a continuous cycle running through research, positioning, and go-to-market. Research generates insight on customers, competitors, and the market, which are then translated into messaging. That messaging is then executed across different campaigns, until the cycle can start over by interpreting results and further fine-tuning positioning.
Best practice #2: Be a generalist
A product marketer is first and foremost a writer. Website, assets, presentation decks: your product marketer will be producing A LOT of content. Being an effective communicator is vital to handle these tasks. Second, a product marketer needs to have good relationship-building skills. They’ll be working closely with different teams, first and foremost product and sales, as well as interacting with customers on a regular basis. Being able to get buy-in and build a rapport with these different stakeholders is key to success. And lastly, a product marketer should be excited about getting stuff done. There’s plenty to do, so be prepared to roll up your sleeves and work on a bunch of different topics!
Best practice #3: Know your target first
In the early stages of your company, Product Marketing is usually handled by either your co-founder or your first marketing person. Your first Product Marketing hire is important, so it’s vital to get the timing right. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, but a good rule of thumb is to hire your first PMM once you know who your target audience is and you begin to need to produce materials and implement campaigns to educate and convince that audience.
Note: for your first PMM, hire someone with experience as they’ll be expected to hit the ground running.
Best practice #4: Scaling your team
As your product team grows and as the sales team scales, the PMM team will have to keep up in order to amplify your message across all your channels. A good place to look for potential hires is people with sales or customer success backgrounds. Their ability to understand your customers’ problems and translate them into effective messaging on a 1:1 basis makes it easier for them to switch to a 1:many outlook. A logical way to split roles across the team is to map them to the funnel. From top to bottom: a more strategic PMM working on pricing, packaging, brand, and website, secondly a PMM focused on sales enablement working on competitor research, sales collaterals, case studies, and customer referrals, and lastly a customer PMM focused on customer communications, onboarding materials, upsell, and feature discovery.
Note: the next step in the scaling Product Marketing is to add PMMs dedicated to each product line and/or channel.
About Stephanie Bowker and Roxana Siu-Calviac:
Stephanie is Head of Marketing at Spendesk, and Roxana is VP of Marketing at Shippeo. Before they worked as Product Marketing Managers at some of the most exciting technology companies in the valley (Gusto, Twilio, Zendesk, Intuit, and Microsoft) to name a few. In this talk, Stephanie and Roxana share how to build — and scale — a world-class product marketing team.