The following was previously published in an earlier version of Marketing Insider.
Product marketers are more in demand than ever, as companies look for new ways to connect to consumers. Yet, while the role of product marketing cannot be underestimated, its reach can be limited by small teams, tight timelines, and scattered priorities.
As a hub of the go-to-market process, there are five things product marketers must do to be the leaders that enable their products and teams to be successful and create impact:
1. Embrace business strategy and product. At global companies like Nike, P&G, and Apple, marketing runs the show. But smaller organizations are more likely to focus on business development than marketing.
However, if product runs the ship, product marketing is what makes everything come to life; it shouldn’t be overlooked. Remember, the role of the product marketer is to deeply understand the product end-to-end — everything in the ecosystem that surrounds the product.
2. Customer-first mindset: outside in, inside out. By nature, companies are focused on the internal dynamics around the product. However, the real opportunity comes with thinking outside-in: putting yourself in the shoes of the customer.
Customers want products that intuitively meet and anticipate their needs, and it’s the job of product marketing to represent their point of view and experience. This can feel revelatory, but it’s both simple and effective. You want to deliver for the customer, and it ultimately makes the product better.
3. Establish the strategic foundation. Thinking about the customer first creates a path to connect the customer to the business strategy, and the business strategy to the product strategy. Ultimately, it’s the job of product marketing to explain why the product is superior and how it solves the customer’s need.
There are key strategic elements that need to be in place here: brand strategy, product positioning, stakeholder value propositions, messaging strategy, and personality and tone, which comprise the nucleus of your marketing strategy and act as the face of your business strategy. Ensuring they are connected, clearly articulated, differentiated from competition, relevant to customers, and authentic to the company is essential to win in the marketplace.
4. Develop a marketing toolkit. With the foundation established, all the moving pieces can be created. In the pre-digital era, this meant creating assets like a traditional sales deck, product training decks, and demos. These days, marketing also needs digital assets: a customer-focused website, product explainer videos, digital advertising assets and targeted email campaigns. Every marketing piece needs to talk to the customer and drive forward business goals, so a deep knowledge of the product and the customer is essential.
The assets in the marketing toolkit may be constantly evolving, so it’s important to refer back to the strategic elements to ensure these assets all look, feel and sound the same.
5. Right convo, right person, right time. Different types of customers will require different types of conversations, so make sure you’re talking to the right person in the right way through the right channel.
For product marketing to truly be successful, team members need to deeply understand the business, know how to represent the customer and their needs, build the strategic bridge from the business to the customer, and create tools for all the different use cases.