What key metrics do product marketing managers need to meet in order to get promoted?
Where to start? Every company has different policies for promotion criteria, but ultimately it needs to take into account 2 things: merit and business need. Business need has to come first. It means that there's a larger scope of a role that needs to be done - more responsibility and complexity within an org / team - and there's now an opportunity or need for someone to fill that. If that doesn't exist, promotions shouldn't be happening arbitrarily. I recongize that especially within startups, individual contributors want to grow and should be recognized for their efforts, but when merit supercedes business need, it creates complications down the road (inexperienced middle managers, people promoted for the sake of being promoted and then drowning in the deep end, etc.). There isn't a blanket set of KPI's someone needs to hit before they're promoted, but there should be an expectation with any job description that success is defined by x, y, and z. What those things are can be a combination of both quantitative and qualitative results.
If you're on this forum as a PMM, you know that one of the biggest challenges for the PMM org is "What the hell do we measure!?" - an age-old conundrum that PMMs always struggle with. This is especially pronouned in an enterprise B2B environment vs. a fast-moving B2C environment where immediate usage/feedback may be available.
To me, the most primary thing I'm looking for is how effective the person is in relationship/ stakeholder management. In Product Marketing, you have many constituents across Sales, Product, and customer teams, as well as within Marketing itself. It's easy to get pulled in a lot of different directions with competing priorities - so how these stakeholders are communicated & collaborated with, along with how they're supported becomes something I really try and pay attention to when looking at how a PMM is advancing in their development.
Additionally, with PMM being a strategic and highly cross-functional role - instead of a list of set metrics, I'll look to how the PMM is able to bring together and run a cross-functional project that has clear outcomes and success metrics related to that (we've moved to OKRs, and also have project-team goal-setting & feedback tools within Culture Amp that support this agile team structure).
I think what's most important is for the individual to know, depending on the team's overarching priorities (aligned up to practice and company-level), how the work that they're doing contributes and which of the projects they are running are seen as critical projects for them to demonstrate competence and success in to align with their career progression objectives. Though, one thing I've also learned in my career is to make sure that you've had this conversation / and gaining alignment with your own manager on this, before extending this clarity out. Because if the individual really leans in and delivers, but you aren't able to hold up your end (I've been on both sides of this), it can really torpedo morale and lead to the frustration of people feeling like they're on a neverending treadmill.
This varies by company and role, but I generally think about the path to promotion on the two key vectors: ownership level and degree of autonomy.
Strong performance against OKRs or KPIs is a core underpinning to that. When considering promotion I start there and then look at how the person has demonstrated rising levels of ownership and autonomy across the following:
- Strategic Direction: As an associate, I'd expect you to own a feature set fully and demonstrate the ability to bring insights into the go-to-market under direction. As you rise in the organization, I'd expect you to own a product group and set goals and drive projects with more independence. As you approach the most senior levels of the organization you most commonly own an audience or problem set and are expected to develop and drive your KPIs with very little direction.
- Execution & Accountability: At earlier levels you're executing against problems you're given and working with teams to show the results. As you rise, you're expected to help the organization understand the questions to ask and align stakeholders around how to understand the impact of that work.
- Communication & Collaboration: For someone just starting you need to demonstrate clear communication with your assigned team and to escalate when issues arise. As you grow in the organization, you become responsible for identifying the team you need and the escalation needs to become more strategic and answer-first.
- Leadership & Influence: If you're an associate I'd expect that you're a master of your assigned area. For a director and above, you're sought as an expert on broad audience problems and most frequently work with the most senior levels of leadership.
The best way for a product marketer to get promoted is by demonstrating the impact of their work. To do this, I incentivize all my PMMs to befriend data and tie their deliverables to key business and customer metrics.
To me, the two most important categories of metrics are:
1) Customer insights
a. Number of actionable insights that helped drive product development
b. Number of actionable insights that informed a business strategy/service
2) Customer engagement
a. Product adoption: This is the % of customers that adopted a new service or product launched by PMM.
b. Customer lifetime value (LTV): The total dollar amount you're likely to receive from the customers that adopted the new service or product, over the average life of the product or services.
c. Active and engaged customers: Number of customers that actively engage with the product, could be measured daily, weekly or monthly.
I'm not a fan of connecting metrics to promotions for a role like product marketing becuase there are so many other dependencies that can't be controlled. Rather I like to establish some expectations of responsibility for each seniority level. Seniority levels can usually be attached to the level of responsiblity you can assign someone. Can they run a launch end to end? Can they take a new offer to market? You can use success of some of those outputs to make a determination of how and when to promote.
PMMs often are measured by output, since most of what we provide are tied to other metrics. I would focus on delivering tangible assets on a regular cadence (case studies, one-pagers, pitch decks, etc) and in parallel - measuring utilization metrics like: product activation, MAUs, reactivations, attach rate, conversion velocity etc. These two streams (tangible output + metrics) cover your bases, establish influence and prove growth (worthy of promotion).
The short answer is this is going to be highly dependent and will be different given your company, product or service, stage, and marketing organization. Every company is different and the role of product marketing is never the same. That said, B2C product marketers focus on metrics that measure customer acquisition, retention, and engagement, as well as revenue and profitability. Depending on your company, you could have KPI's tied to all or you could be placed on projects that are narrowly focused on moving a measure of just one.
OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) have become a popular way for companies to clearly define goals and measure progress against them, at the employee, team, and company level. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OKR
There's lots written about these that you can reference elsewhere, but it's a really helpful frame work that allows you to measure, quantitatively and qualitatively, how you're tracking against the "key results" that you've defined. The common expectation is that you'll hit about 70% of your OKRs - idea is that you're including stretch goals so missing 20-30% doens't mean you're performing poorly.
I do try to quantify as much as possible in my OKRs but you also need to be careful to not arbitrarily quantify things to the point that it distracts from what will really add the most value to your team or company.