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How do product marketers make sure they're learning enough varied skills to be a well-rounded professional when scope is an issue?

i.e. working at a large company with minimal scope, focusing on sales enablement but knowing you need experience on the product launch side, other marketing teams covering responsibilities, etc.
Christy Roach
Christy Roach
AssemblyAI VP of MarketingOctober 8

This is a great question! I know lots of product marketers who worry that in getting more specialized they’re missing out on the opportunity to get that broad skillset. I reject the idea that you have to change jobs in order to get the experience you want and think there are plenty of ways to get it in your current role. Here’s what has worked well for me:


Do your homework: While there are some skills that are universally important for a product marketer (ex: bringing new products to market), there are some that are more niche and specialized (ex: specific expertise in freemium business pricing strategies). Before you start mapping out how to get the experience, you need to figure out what experience you want to get and what’s not as important to you. This likely sounds like a “duh” comment, but I’ve talked to many people who know they want to be great product marketers but haven’t done the legwork to figure out what that means to them. To start, have an explicit conversation with your manager about what they think are the skills you need to have to be a great product marketer, rather than making assumptions about what they think. From there, talk to some leaders you admire who have the type of well-rounded career you’d like to have or, better yet, are hiring for the role you would like to get a few years down the line. Ask them what types of skills they see as mandatory for someone they’d hire onto their team and compare that list to the skills that you’re getting to build in your current role. Don’t have any leaders in your company that fit the bill? Reach out to people on LinkedIn, contact people from the Sharebird community, or approach people at meetups. I can’t speak for everyone, but I personally have always been open to chatting on the phone or getting coffee with someone who wants some advice. 


Create a shortlist and share it with your manager: Turns out, most managers truly want to help their employees succeed in their career goals. Once you have a list of the skills you’d like to build in your role, you should have an honest conversation with your manager about what you think the gaps in your skillset are and where you’d like to get exposure and get their point of view. Once you’re on the same page that yes, this is an important skillset to have and no, you’re not getting exposure to it in my current role, it opens the door to exploring opportunities to take on projects to build that skill. You have to remember that the company will put you in the role that they think is best for the business, so it’s important to communicate to your boss that you’re willing to go above and beyond to take on extra work in order to get the skills you’d like. As a manager, once I know what someone wants, and once they’ve made clear they’re willing to work for it, I’m usually pretty excited to find opportunities for them to get the skills they’re looking for. When you’ve got a strong performer on your team, you don’t want to lose them, but you also don’t want to keep them in a role they’re not happy in. It’s a total win for me when I know where my direct report ultimately wants to go and I can find new projects for them to take on to help them grow in their career.

Seek out other teams who have projects like the ones you’re wanting to do: In talking to your manager, you might find that they are fine with you taking on other work, but aren’t able to give that to you themselves, either because they don’t have influence over that area of the business or they want you to take the initiative yourself to grow your career. If that’s the case, you can reach out to a lead on a team that does the type of work you’re looking to do and make it clear that you’d be interested in taking on a special project or helping out to grow your skills in that area. So long as you’ve already talked to your manager and they’ve agreed to let you dip your toe in something new, most leaders will be excited about someone who wants to help out their team. The thing to remember is to be realistic about the work that’s already on your plate, make sure you take on work you feel confident you can get done in the time allotted, and you and the leader who is responsible for the work are clear on what level of involvement you’d like them to have. 


Be realistic in your timelines: If you’re like me, as soon as you figure out what you want to be doing or identify a gap in your skillset, you want to tackle it immediately and all at once. Take my hard-earned advice, this mindset sets you up to fail. Take an 18-month approach to this work and map out, in 6-month increments to start, the skills you think are most important to build and how much work it will take to build them. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you can’t go from never launching a product to running the quarter’s biggest product launch right away. You also can’t look at these skills like checkboxes that you do once and you're done. If you’re approaching growth as a bunch of checkmarks to help you get where you want to go, you run the risk of looking at execution as your measure of success, not the quality of work. Of course, you should push for what you want and set ambitious goals for yourself, but it’s important to recognize that once you and your manager have a conversation about where you want to grow, it may take a few months for an opportunity to present itself that gives you what you’re looking for.

2096 Views
Hila Segal
Hila Segal
WalkMe Vice President, Product MarketingJanuary 27

The role of a product marketer is very different in every company. Still, I believe you shape up the position in your organization - the strengths, interests, and passions you bring with you can expand the role beyond its initial job description. Whether you're a PMM at a global enterprise with thousands of employees or part of a lean and mean marketing team at a fast-growing start-up, you have to control your own destiny. 

The vast majority of learning and development happens not in formal training programs, but rather on the job—through developmental assignments. Identify the set of PMM skills that are important for you to develop - it can be more opportunities to actively pitch your product in sales cycles, running large quarterly launches, or sharpening your writing skills. From here, you have to continually look for new projects and ways to get yourself involved in a broad set of initiatives across the company. Take advantage of your connections in sales, enablement, GTM, product management, customer success, and devote at least 10-15% of your time to extra curricular activities. Coordinate this with your manager and make it part of your OKRs (objectives and key results).

1160 Views
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Robert McGrath
Robert McGrath
Deel Head of Global Marketing + ExpansionMay 11

There are multiple ways I'd suggest doing this. One approach is to use the current area that you're focused on i.e. sales enablement, and how you can use your knowledge and experience of this to influence the likes of product launch strategies. For example, if you're in sales enablement you have a birdseye view of what the sales teams challenges are, what they're hearing from their customers and what works within the pre and post-sales processes. Use this knowledge to springboard yourself into conversations with other people across the org. This helps because 1) it allows you to build lasting relationships and trust, and 2) gives you insights and experience into how and what they work on. Be curious, ask questions and champion the customers. 

995 Views
Leandro Margulis
Leandro Margulis
Prove Head of ProductSeptember 7

This is one of the reasons to work for a smaller company where you get a wider scope, there is always pros and cons on each company type. Now if you are in a large company with a small scope, Make the implicit explicit and talk to your manager and others to express your interest in learning more about the wider scope. That should open doors to get more involved with a wider variety of product marketing tasks.

364 Views
Vidya Drego
Vidya Drego
SmithRx VP of MarketingJanuary 19

I think it's always possible for product marketers to learn varied skills by being open to new projects or opportunities when they've mastered a skill. At a large company, where roles are more specialized there are often opportunities to work on different projects or products that may have different product-market-fit. At a smaller company, the scope may be wider but you may not have the opportunity to go as deep with any skill set. I'd advise being open to all the opportunities you see around you and be unafraid to speak with your manager about your career and growth aspirations and have them help you identify projects or opportunities that might help you take the next step.

725 Views
Ryane Bohm
Ryane Bohm
Clari Head of Product MarketingApril 14

Great question and a challenge I've definitely run into throughout the years. Every role and every company is different and you're not always going to get the full spectrum of PMM with every move. 

To fill any gaps, I strongly recommend making friends in other departments. If other marketing teams are covering responsibilities, try to partner with them or shadow them to stay involved and learn. If you want to buff up on your enablement skills, grab coffee with your GTM and enablement teams to talk about doing a "minor" project on the side. I also recommend always having a BFF in Sales that you can do ride-alongs with and bounce questions off. That is invaluable!   

When you're not hanging out with your new cross-functional friends, go big in online communities and courses! There are a ton of opportunities to learn the craft so you are ready when it's time to launch. 

408 Views
Jane Reynolds
Jane Reynolds
Match Group Director of Product & Brand Marketing, Match Group North AmericaMarch 22

Reach out to the product marketing network! Sharebird is a great place to start :) And I find that LinkedIn is another helpful resource for connecting with other product marketers to get insights from their experiences as well. Not only can people share case studies from the work they’ve done, but they can also provide guidance and feedback, and act as mentors.

There are also a lot of wonderful classes available, including via Product Marketing Alliance. Check with your employer as you may be able to expense these classes as a career development opportunity.

420 Views
Kelly Kipkalov
Kelly Kipkalov
BILL Sr Director, Product MarketingDecember 19

Such a great question!

Sales enablement - although you're right it's a narrow focus - is still very transferable to the more customer facing aspects of customer marketing. You still need to understand how to build clear value props and messaging for sales so they can win deals, it's just that the audience is different.

That said, my biggest suggestion is just to really push yourself to develop new tools and content that might be outside your company's playbook, particularly if the playbook is a little predictable. Build interactive demo tools, create Figma prototypes, develop pitch decks tailored to a specific persona or customer profile, create modularized video salespeople can send to customers. You'll find that even though your focus might be narrow, you are still putting transferable tools in your toolbox.

389 Views
Michele Nieberding 🚀
Michele Nieberding 🚀
MetaRouter Director of Product MarketingMay 2

Ah yes, the never-ending quest for well-roundedness in the face of limited scope – a familiar struggle for many PMMs. My general rule of thumb is Try Everything Early. Even if you're at a bigger company where roles are more clearly defined (i.e. a PMM for Competitive Intelligence, a PMM for Pricing, a PMM for Solutions, a PMM for Product Launches, etc.), attempting to try everything early as a product marketer allows you to discover your strengths, weaknesses, and interests.

To start, I'd recommend making a list of where you feel you're strong, and where you'd like to develop more expertise. This will help you focus on the right activities to help you become more rounded!

Here are some strategies to help you learn varied skills even when your day-to-day is laser-focused:

1. Embrace Micro-Learning:

  • Podcasts & Bitesize Content: Subscribe to product marketing podcasts or follow industry influencers on social media. Look for bite-sized content like short video tutorials or blog posts focusing on specific PMM skills like competitor analysis or user experience (UX) research. Small chunks of knowledge add up over time!

  • Online Courses & Certifications: Take advantage of online courses, and focus on areas outside your current scope, like product management fundamentals or marketing analytics. This flexibility accommodates for even the craziest of schedules, allowing you to learn at your own pace. I personally love a good PMM Podcast on my summer car trips. Some good ones include Product Marketing Life, Voices of Product Marketing, Humans of MarTech, How I Built This for inspiring stories , The Marketing Millennials for case studies, but there are SO many more depending on your experience and what you want to learn more about.

2. Shadowing & Internal Collaboration:

  • Shadowing: Express interest in shadowing colleagues from different departments like product management, sales, or customer success. Observe their daily routines and learn about their perspectives on your product.

  • Cross-functional Collaboration: Volunteer for cross-functional projects that require interaction with other teams. This allows you to see how your role integrates with others and gain exposure to diverse skillsets.

3. Content as Catalyst:

  • Internal Blog Posts or Presentations: Contribute internal blog posts or presentations on topics outside your immediate area of expertise. Researching and presenting on new themes can significantly expand your knowledge base.

  • Develop Case Studies: Take the lead on developing case studies for successful marketing campaigns. Analyze the entire marketing funnel, not just your specific content contribution. This provides a holistic view of the marketing process beyond content creation.

4. Leverage Your Network:

  • Mentorship: Seek out a mentor within your organization or even connect with a PMM from a different company on LinkedIn. Mentors can provide guidance and share their experiences in various PMM domains.

  • Industry Events: Attend industry meetups, conferences, or webinars (both online and offline) focusing on broader product marketing themes. Network with other PMMs and learn about their diverse skillsets.

5. Experimentation & Intrapreneurship:

  • Internal Innovation Programs: Participate in internal innovation programs or hackathons. These events often require tackling challenges from fresh perspectives, allowing you to experiment with new skills and approaches.

  • Internal "Side Hustles": Propose small-scale pilot projects within your company that allow you to try out new marketing tactics or explore different channels. This demonstrates initiative and allows you to test new waters within a safe environment.

Remember, a well-rounded PMM doesn't have to be a master of everything. But by actively seeking out learning opportunities, collaborating across teams, and leveraging your network, you can continuously expand your skillset and become a more valuable asset to your organization, even with limited scope.

414 Views
Sarah Din
Sarah Din
Quickbase VP of Product MarketingMarch 28

This is sometimes harder to do at larger companies where the PMM team is organized to focus on very niche areas - but with any role, to be successful, find opportunities to participate in initiatives that are outside of your scope. Talk to your manager about your desire to learn and grow and it’s their job to help you find those opportunities - but if you see something broken, raise your hand to fix it. I have yet to meet a team that has enough PMM resources.

The other option is to look for roles where you do get to be a full-stack PMM, especially earlier in your career (and often at smaller companies). You get more exposure to more work and learn faster! Once you have done different things, its easier to pick something and specialize if thats your goal.

340 Views
Shruti Koparkar
Shruti Koparkar
Amazon Product Marketing Lead, AI/ML Acceleration, AWSMay 9

Large companies can mean limited scope, but you can still be a well-rounded PMM! Here are some tips:

  • Be Proactive: Seek opportunities to learn from other PMMs. Shadow colleagues working on launches, offer to cover competitive events and lead competitive responses

  • Focus on Depth within Your Scope: Master your area and bring those insights to other areas of PMM. For e.g. if you work in sales enablement you are close to your sales teams, their needs, and through them the customer needs and market trends. Bring these insights to the PMMs working on launches and create differentiated value so they'll involve you in creating and reviewing product positioning/messaging.

  • External Learning: Take online courses, attend industry conferences, and network with PMMs from other companies. Gain knowledge beyond your immediate role.

1321 Views
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