Cindy F. Solomon on the Art of Product Marketing Management (and 3 Tips)
Part two of my conversation with Cindy F. Solomon on the subject of Product Marketing Management. Click here to read part one.
What aspect of the product marketing management profession is most under appreciated by today’s organizations?
Product Marketing Management is a strategic position ultimately responsible for providing value to all of the departments that contribute to the product during the entire product management lifecycle and beyond product development. The product marketing management function is responsible for listening, empathizing, facilitating collaboration and communicating the product value, product narrative, and product context across all touch points internally and creating the tools that enable that product value to be successfully experienced aligned with the product marketing business case through-out the product’s lifecycle – ultimately to increase, generate or maintain product revenue (or demand generation, engagement and retention) in the sales pipeline.
As a distinct profession, product marketing management is not distinguished as a career choice in smaller or technology driven companies and often is not distinguished as a separate role from product management. Product marketing management certainly is a function required for product success, but may only be recognized and funded at the front end of new product discovery or at launch of new products into the market. This is a mistake, as the role of product marketing management is to focus on identifying what’s important at any given stage in the product’s lifecycle, in terms of market conditions, competitive landscape, future threats, product versioning, innovation, channel and portfolio considerations, as well as customer demands, and guarantee that the business case, customer experience, design thinking and unique product value is communicated across all aspects of the product lifecycle, across all functions touching, developing, selling, and incorporating the product, to achieve the intended goals of the product business case.
If you had to share a couple key tips about what makes for a successful product marketing manager, what would they be?
My key tips to be a successful and sought after product marketing management leader, are to master the following:
1. Step away from the product. In order to remain objective, you have to be able to see the truth about the problems, mistakes, negative feedback, threats and losses in the marketplace in order to communicate to enable the product team to effectively address those issues. You must recognize the best actions needed to propel the product towards success. Being too in love with the product may cloud your ability to see what’s best, listen and recognize the dangers in the competitive landscape, and operate proactively.
2. Schedule regular meetings to listen to different perspectives on the product needs from outside the direct product team. Talk to customer service, community management, tech support, quality assurance, documentation, operations, and all of the internal functions responsible for servicing, maintaining the product, and interfacing with customers and the marketplace. Everyone in the company cares about the success of the product and will provide different insights, understandings and viewpoints. This is in addition to having regularly scheduled meetings with customers, non-customers, and observing customers in the wild. (There are various ways to meet – including telephone conversations – although human to human interactions are desired and provide the biggest wealth of information and return on time invested.)
3. Create a visual product health chart – this is distinct from the product road map which shows the plan for the product development process. The product marketing management health chart ideally provides the current picture of the product in the market based on data points and feedback, on where the product is falling off-course of the prescribed goals, measures alignment against the product business case, and tracks responses to the various strategies, programs and actions put in place to enable review, changing course and preventing tragic consequences. Sharing the visual product health chart (appropriately) will encourage further communication, collaboration and contribution to the success of the product as well as your product marketing management leadership.
(To learn more about Cindy or to listen to Global Product Management Talk’s weekly broadcast click here.)
Greg Geracie is the author of Take Charge Product Management©, the Editor-in-Chief of The Guide to the Product Management and Marketing Body of Knowledge (ProdBOK), and the leader of this initiative. ProdBOK is an industry-wide effort to standardize the practice of product management sponsored by the Association of International Product Management and Marketing (AIPMM).