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How does product marketing differ between a small and large company?

7 Answers
Gregg Miller
Gregg Miller
PandaDoc VP of Product Marketing & BrandOctober 8

Regardless of role, there's a universal tradeoff between small and large companies and it's about what kind of impact you find most motivating. Would you rather have broader impact across the business and more autonomy/flexibility in the scope of where you focus, or would have rather have a deeper impact on a narrower slice of the business but at a scale that touches millions or even billions of customers/users? This is just as true of product marketing. Typically you'll have a much more structured, much more narrowly scoped remit at a larger company but the scale of revenue/customers will be drastically larger -- and you'll also have much more resourcing to draw upon (e.g. agencies, GTM budget, cross-functional teams to assist you, etc.).

1402 Views
Andy Schumeister
Andy Schumeister
Sourcegraph Director of Product MarketingJune 8

The biggest difference is the level of specialization. At a smaller company, PMMs should be generalists. One quarter they may be working on bringing a new feature to market and another quarter they may be revamping the pitch deck. As the company grows and evolves to become a multi-product company with a segmented sales team, you start to see PMMs specialize. There may be a dedicated or embedded PMM for each product along with PMMs for each customer segment. 

The other difference I've seen is that PMM tends to be responsible for more aspects of product launches at smaller companies. In addition to planning the launch, they'll likely be writing the blog post, coordinating the email campaign, creating the landing page, etc. However, at a larger company with a more established marketing team, the PMM will focus more on planning/messaging and then work with their specialist counterparts to execute that plan. 

519 Views
Jasmine Jaume
Jasmine Jaume
Intercom Director, Product MarketingOctober 26

I'll caveat my answer here by saying that I haven't worked in PMM in a really large (1000s of employees) company - my experience has been mainly within startups and mid-sized companies. When I joined Intercom, we were about 150 people and now we're nearly 800. Here's what I've seen change for PMM during that growth:

  • PMM doing a 'bit of everything' vs specialised - in smaller companies, PMM tends to do a little bit of everything within marketing, but as a company grows, you start to (hopefully!) hire more specialists to take on those areas. For example, when I first joined Intercom PMM wrote all the website copy, we'd write and set up the email/messaging campaigns, write copy for social etc. Now, we have amazing people who specialise in those skills, so our job has become more focused on core product marketing work such as positioning and messaging, and then enabling and coordinating with those other teams to bring that messaging to life. Similarly, in larger companies, you're more likely to have more resources in other teams such as research, biz ops etc. who can support your work.
  • Launches become more complex - Related to the point above, in larger companies you're more likely to be working with multiple different teams within marketing such as brand, corporate marketing, customer lifecycle marketing etc (and likely more teams outside of marketing too!). This means co-ordinating launches can get more complex, as you have many more teams to enable and co-ordinate with, so communication and organisation become even more important. 
  • Enablement becomes more and more important - as your sales and marketing teams grow, there is a greater need for a solid enablement strategy. Getting 100s of sales people aligned and telling a consistent story is much more difficult than doing so with a small group, and you have to be much more deliberate about what and when you're sharing information. In my experience, enablement get less ad hoc (say, on a launch-by-launch basis) and more of a consistent, regular 'beat' of activities.
  • More structure and processes - larger companies are more likely to have more structure and repeatable processes in place such as messaging frameworks, launch processes, and even things like legal policies to take into account. If you're like me and like structure and organisation, then this is usually a good thing!
  • Opportunity to be a subject matter expert - in a larger company and larger PMM team, you'll likely be focused on a more specific product or solution area/audience. This is a great opportunity to really focus and know that product and audience inside out, rather than trying to stay across multiple different areas
  • More need for close co-ordination across PMM and product areas - as noted above, in a larger company you're more likely to have many different product teams, and PMMs with more specific focus areas. The risk of this is that you end up with disjointed efforts across your products or portfolio, so you have to be more deliberate about staying in sync to ensure messaging and strategy are aligned across different areas
805 Views
Jennifer Kay Corridon
Jennifer Kay Corridon
Yelp Product Marketing Expert & MentorOctober 12

Product marketing is different at every company, large or small. In my own experience, at every company the product marketing function tends be very fluid and flexible to the needs of the business or product as it develops, changes, and scales. 

At smaller organizations, teams tend to run fairly lean and it would not be unusual to find the projects or goals of product marketing to be in flux quarter to quarter. You could be pulled on a team to help move a stubborn metric as easily as you might be tasked with creating a new customer communication strategy. 

At a bigger company where the teams may be larger or have more functional or specialized experts, the product marketing function may be utilized more deeply as a strategic consultant with a focus on growing or developing a nascent area of the business in full. 

358 Views
Adam Kerin
Adam Kerin
Truework SVP of MarketingJanuary 18

While a large company will have a dedicated individual or even team to a particular function, like competitive analysis or social media, at a startup you may be the one-stop-shop for all things marketing.

At Truework for example, we’re building the entire marketing org from scratch. I jokingly signed one mail as “the Product Marketing, Partner Marketing, Content Creation, Social Media, Press Relations, Analyst Relations, Sales Enablement, Events, and Web Team.”

The challenge of this is obviously juggling what would be ten different jobs at a large company. It’s also difficult accepting quality typically below a standard you’ve set at a large company, where you have the extra time and resources. With so much to do, “perfect is the enemy of good enough,” and it’s more about optimizing for the system as a whole rather than a single asset.

The reward is experiencing that breadth. If your goal is to lead marketing or be CMO, this is an accelerated crash-course to live nearly every job function, albeit in a part-time capacity.

We’ve since hired dedicated experts in Demand Gen and Sales Enablement, while we are still hiring for a product marketer and content marketer to help us scale out.

375 Views
Sarah Din
Sarah Din
Quickbase VP of Product MarketingFebruary 22

The biggest difference in my experience is that most PMMs are smaller companies that are full-stack PMMs and very early learn how to do a little bit of everything. They often need to wear multiple hats and do everything from writing blog posts to owning the GTM strategy and do all of that in parallel.

PMM teams at larger companies can afford to build more specialized skillsets and you often find PMMs at larger organizations that become SMEs in certain areas.

407 Views
Amanda Groves
Amanda Groves
Enable VP of Product MarketingMay 10

Great question! In my career I've held product marketing roles at bootstrapped startups with less than 20 employees all the way to Series E companies with 1.5k plus employees. While I haven't been on the super, super XL enterprise side of PMM land, I think these are the big deltas between working in small and large organizations:

  1. Small but mighty means you'll have more ownership, coverage, and impact. At smaller companies, you'll likely be managing many spinning plates at once across core competencies like: pricing, packaging, positioning, launches, customer & lifecycle marketing, competitive intelligence all while balancing high-volume shipping environments. Embrace the proximity you have to impact + leadership and revel in the learning density presented within these organizations.

  2. Larger organizations may rely on PMM for enterprise support such as sales enablement, pitch decks, and ABM support. Larger organizations may also present the opportunity to go deep in a specific part of product marketing like pricing specialization, launches, or own a specific product line.

TL;DR: If you want to specialize I suggest exploring PMM at a larger organization. If you want to cut your teeth on everything, go small and embrace the ride!

425 Views
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