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How do you establish credibility with product management when you are new to the product marketing team?

11 Answers
Laura Jones
Laura Jones
Instacart Chief Marketing OfficerDecember 8

To establish credibility with a new team, the first step is understanding the team's need, laying out a vision for how you can best add value, and aligning around expectations. It is important to know the user, the market, and the product so that you can engage with the cross-functional team in a meaningful way from day one. With a clear set of objectives and foundational understanding of the space, you can quickly begin to make an impact on the team.

3003 Views
Gregg Miller
Gregg Miller
PandaDoc VP of Product Marketing & BrandFebruary 11

It's all about doing great work that matters to the business, matters to your partner, and fits into the context of the relationship! The playbook below can help get the ball rolling. Sorry for the long answer, but it's a complex question with big implications for your ability to add value as a PMM.

1) It's essential to understand your business — the market you play in, the strengths/weaknesses of the competition, how customers feel about you, etc. — better than just about anyone else in the company. Your level of fluency (or lack thereof!) will be visible in how you show up: the insight you’re able to share live in meetings, the feedback you leave in Google Docs/Slides comments, the deliverables you create, and so on. Showing you really know what you’re talking about means people will see you as someone who’s opinion matters and should not only be considered when you provide it, but that they should proactively seek you out in the future.

2) It's similarly important to understand how the product marketing team has typically partnered with your product counterparts in the past. If you’re at an organization where product marketing has typically played a role laser focused on launch communications, you may inadvertently erode your credibility by regularly sharing your feature pitches with the product team. That’s not to say your ideas aren’t going to be valuable, just instead that it’s helpful to recognize the starting point of your reputation and strive to be highly credible within that frame of reference before progressively branching out into other areas.


3) Ask your product counterpart(s) what matters to them individually: where do they see the greatest PMM need, where could the existing way of doing things be improved, and what are some of the biggest risks/uncertainties they have around their existing roadmap?

4) Go out and get some quick wins in service of THEIR agenda — do some customer interviews or quick market research that might be helpful. It's best not to try and make a big ask of them or a product proposal right off the bat. Instead, nurture the fragile sapling of your reputation and credibility -- the stronger they are, the bigger a seat at the table you earn, the more influential you've earned the right to be at your organization.

There are a lot of great resources out there that talk about establishing credibility agnostic of your function — it’s generally the same set of rules regardless of whether you’re in product or operations or marketing or somewhere else. There’s a short book out there called “The First 90 Days” that I’d highly recommend if you’re looking to learn more.

1531 Views
Grace Kuo
Grace Kuo
Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Product MarketingMarch 5

Be thoughtful and get to know them (processes, workflows, areas of focus, etc.)

Often it can be jarring as a new PMM to go straight to providing (sometimes unwarranted) feedback to your PMs, Designers, Engs. Get to know them first and understand the background of the project/product so that you show you care about context and their way of work.

Build credibility by providing thoughtful approaches to how you operate as their partner. When you do provide them with feedback, help them understand the framework/philosophies/examples from competitors or similar companies that you utilize, so they understand where you're coming from.  

829 Views
Shabih Syed
Shabih Syed
Square Product Lead, Ecosystem DiscoveryJuly 7

The best way to establish credibility is to demonstrate to them what is your process for launching products and where do you need their help and how you will help them. Think of product marketing as delivering a set of services to the product managers. These services can include market research, competitor analysis, value proposition messaging for a feature etc. Be clear about documenting these services and the SLAs behind them..

Ideally, product marketing can be a function within the product team. That’s how you keep yourself truly embedded with the product managers and liaison with the marketing team as needed.

983 Views
Jason Oakley
Jason Oakley
Klue Senior Director of Product MarketingJanuary 5

Know the product and their role (product management) well. In my experience, I've been able to build credibility with PMs by being able to speak their language, communicate in tools like Jira, Confluence, Miro, Figma, that they use every day to do their job. 

While product knowledge is important, market and competitive knowledge is a huge asset for PMs and something they often don't have. If you can bring that to the table, you'll be seen as a valued partner. 

I've also experienced a tension between PM and PMM when it comes to overlapping jobs and who owns what. PMs may feel like a new product marketer is taking some of their responsibilities away from them. This naturally leads to a poor working relationship. In my experience it's been helpful to sit down with the PM team or my PM counterpart to carve out together, who is responsible for what. As a backstop, when I know I'm in this situation, I try to tread very lightly and offer to support them vs taking a job away from them. 

436 Views
Roopal Shah
Roopal Shah
Snowflake Head (VP) of Global Sales EnablementJanuary 5

Roll up your sleeves and learn the ins & out of the product...sit down with them and actually learn it - maybe even demo it.  

1020 Views
Savita Kini
Savita Kini
Cisco Director of Product Management, Speech and Video AIJanuary 17

Get to know the product, learn to do the demos, get to know the engineers and sales as well. Understand the space, ecosystem, sales process, competitive landscape etc. The more value you bring to the table to help them, the more credibility you will gain. It's a 2-way street. You will be lucky to have both a very good sales leader and product management leader. Sometimes, you have to broker the engagements as well. Been in all of the scenarios. 

675 Views
Marcus Andrews
Marcus Andrews
Pendo Sr. Director of Product MarketingNovember 15

Outside of knowing their product, I think the biggest thing you can do is know the market and the user inside and out. If you know the big trends, best practices, and ideas in any given space you should bring a lot of value immediately to any product conversation. 

849 Views
Chris Henz
Chris Henz
Sabre Director - Global Product MarketingDecember 28

I think there are two critical components associated with establishing credibility with product management if you are new to the product marketing team.


First, the product managers need to see that you are willing to learn all about their product.  Product managers are like proud parents - they want to talk about (and brag about) their new baby.  You have to demonstrate curiosity and some degree of technical aptitude.  Ask questions, be a good listener, and don't be afraid to get technical.


Secondly, the product managers need to see that you know something about marketing.  After all, your job as a product marketing professional is to tell the world about the product manager's product.  It's ok to be modest, but don't hide your marketing successes.  Be willing to share creative suggestions or your go-to-market ideas with the product manager.  They want to know that you have ideas on how to make their products successful in the marketplace.  Most importantly, as you begin to get feedback from customers, be sure to share success stories with the product manager and the development team.

673 Views
Dave Daniels
Dave Daniels
BrainKraft FounderJune 8

Execution. You build trust quickly with PMs when you help them achieve the goals they've defined for their product. I'm assuming the PM in question has a business plan for their product (OK, you can laugh now). Think of your role as the CMO for the product. Understand the competitive landscape, develop a GTM strategy, define a position and compelling value proposition, understand the market need, and ensure the rest of the organization is prepared. 

Learning the product is secondary. You already have people who know the product. The PM wants to know how you're going to help sell more of her product. Your two starting questions are: 1) What's the problem this product solves? and 2) Who are the people who have the problem. Don't assume you know the answer. Get that directly from the PM first. If she can't answer those questions, you're in trouble. 

651 Views
Sherri Schwartz
Sherri Schwartz
OvationCXM Head of MarketingJanuary 14

I think it 100% comes down to dedicating extra time to learn about the product quickly and then efficiently executing on the expectations/material that you need to create around it. Also, set up a clear communication channel with them (Slack, Chatter, etc.) where you can continually share industry insights and research that you've found. Extra communication always goes a long way.

640 Views
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