The scope of product marketing differs from company to company. However, there are typically a core set of responsibilities that are fairly consistent across software product marketing organizations. The four most common responsibilities are:
1) Product-Level Messaging
Product marketing is responsible for identifying the key features that should be promoted in each offering. There might be 50 different capabilities that the product can perform, but only 4-5 of these can be highlighted in the marketing. Equally important is the articulation of the benefits that the customer can gain from using the product and documenting the overall value proposition in different lengths (25, 100, 250 words) and formats (website copy, brochure, RFP template). Product marketing also owns arming the sales team with the key differentiators of the offer against the competition.
2) Product Lifecycle
Product marketing works closely with product management throughout the lifecycle of a new offering to bring it to market. During the launch process, product marketing helps with external communications such as press releases, customer webinars, and analyst briefings. They also quarterback sales enablement programs and produce the relevant collateral such as brochures, RFP content, and presentation slides. In some cases, the product marketing team also picks up the various odds and ends that no one else clearly owns like making sure new SKUs are added to the CRM and the billing system, ensuring the products are added to the master terms and conditions, and adding a blurb about the new offering to the master RFP template.
3) Sales Enablement
Develops sales tools and marketing collateral that maps to the buyer’s journey. Ideally, the sales team has content at their fingertips to respond to the 80% of objections, questions, and needs that customers have during a buying journey. Product marketing should develop the job aids that help solution consultants and account executives to answer questions, overcome objections, and move the customer to the next step of the process. Examples of sales tools include interactive product tours, pre-recorded demos, sample RFPs, case studies, and competitive battlecards.
4) Market Analysis
Product marketing can play an integral role in strategic planning efforts by developing quantitative and qualitative analyses of the market. Many product marketing teams have analysts responsible for monitoring the competitive landscape, segmenting the customer base, and sizing the market opportunity (think TAM). Product marketing might also be responsible for defining and documenting the ideal customer profile, buyer persona, and buyer’s journey. Tracking product-specific KPIs such as new logo acquisition, customer upsells and cross-sells, competitive win rates, and estimated market share.
From Good to Great
The best product marketing teams don’t limit themselves to the traditional scope of the four functions outlined above. The best product marketing teams are leading the organization by assuming control of the corporate narrative to tell a compelling story about the revolutionary change the company aims to introduce into the market. The best product marketing teams are partnering with leaders in sales, channels, finance, and human resources to define targeted messaging and build targeted materials for specific customer segments like verticals and buyer personas and specific audiences like investors and partners.
5) Corporate Messaging
Product marketing not only owns the product-level value proposition, but the corporate messaging and positioning. Product marketing should own the narrative around the company’s mission and vision, building the story of how the business has evolved from its founding to the present day. They should be defining the leadership claims about why the company is better than the competition, tying together everything from technical architecture and cybersecurity posture to customer experience and implementation methodology.
6) Targeted Messaging – Industries, Personas, Customer Segments
Taking the general value proposition and refining it to target specific market segments. Product marketing might develop targeted messaging for various vertical industries (financial services, health care), specific market segments (enterprise, SMB), or different buyer personas (customer success, human resources). In some cases, there may be a designated industry marketing function within (or adjacent to) the product marketing team that develops these messages for verticals.
7) Targeted Messaging – Analysts, Media, Partners
Customers are not the only audience for the company story. Product marketing needs to also develop targeted materials for potential partners (channel, technology), investors (venture capitalists, equity analysts), influencers (analysts, consulting firms), media (national and trade publications), and prospective employees. The messages for the different audiences are developed in close cooperation with the teams that own the relationships with these audiences such as finance (investors), public relations (media), and human resources (employees).
8) Thought Leadership
Product marketing should also be one of the key sources of material for content marketing teams. The best product marketing teams are developing their company’s unique point of view on where the market is heading, the top challenges customers are facing, and the alternative strategies companies should be taking to win. Product marketing should be capturing commercial insights from real-world customer experiences then synthesizing the learnings to produce best practices, case studies, and thought leadership materials.