Do you feel it is necessary to dip your toe in these other orgs/roles (ex. Demand Gen, Product) being a product marketer to fully comprehend your work and excel?
I think it's crucial to work closely with other teams at the company on projects that really matter to their success. For example:
PMM + Demand Gen - website redesign
PMM + PM - roadmap planning, product launches, or pricing & packaging
PMM + Sales - sales enablement, competitive positioning
PMM + Success - customer-facing product roadmap presentation, customer adoption tips and tricks
PMM can help all these other functions win, and I think it's absolutely essential to seek out such projects as it helps PMMs gain empathy for the challenges faced by other functions, and leads to more effective collaboration.
Empathy is incredibly important for stakeholder management. The more you understand what your stakeholders need, can talk to them in their language, take feedback and get better at predicting and proactively providing the information they need the more trust you will earn from them. I don't think that means you need to know how to do their job, they are the expert and your trust in their ability to do it and to be the expert on that job is one half of the relationship. But really listen to them when they describe the pain points, or understand why they ask a question rather than just jumping to answer it. It will go a long way to making you a bit more strategic in how you think about your programs and launches.
A RESOUNDING YES! (And by dippin your toes, I mean understanding their function and collaborating - not try to run their show. Let the subject matter experts do their thing, but make sure you are integrated in their planning and ensure these teams are working together.)
I believe in order to truly be effective and impactful as a Product Marketer, you have to not only have an understanding of other key functions that you work with but partner closely with these functions.
By understanding other key functions, you gain:
Having these 2 key elements will only help you do your job better and help you manage key stakeholders with more effectiveness.
For example, meeting with your Demand Gen team to understand their campaign planning, content creation, ad campaigns, will help you potentially integrate key messaging, product launches, etc. You're not necessarily directing them to run their campaigns a certain way, but you are connecting them with the foundational value props/messaging of your solution. They can take that and make their creatives more impactful and aligned with overall PMM strategy.
For Product, you absolutely need to be aligned with their workflows, understand and align your goals with theirs. If this doesn't happen, you will be planning in silos and the two will never form a strategic partnership to run a successful/powerful GTM.
You need to truly understand your partner's motivations and processes. I don't think you need to have been an AE or a PM to be able to do great PMM work but you do need to have very open and very frequent communication with your cross-functional partners. Don't be affraid to ask detailed questions - people love to talk about what they do. Err on the side of over-communicating.
As a Product Marketer, you get things done through other people. Also, you won’t have formal authority over most of the people working with you. In this scenario, your ability to connect with and influence people (especially peers) is crucial to succeed in the role.
Given this situation, I believe having a sense of how other teams work is key to increase your influence across the organization. To do this properly, there are three things you should learn about each area you collaborate with: what is driving their decisions, how they work and how you can influence them.
What is driving their decisions
You first need to understand their business, operational and personal goals. This is going to drive their decision making and you can leverage that do ensure you are suggesting (or asking for) for help on tasks that are connected to the goals they are pursuing.
A few examples of goals for the Marketing team could be:
- Business goal: increase loyalty (e.g., increase the number of customers that buy more than once)
- Operational goal: send more e-mails to current clients to increase repurchase rates by 4pp
- Personal goal: learn how to write more targeted copy
When you understand their goals, you can focus on pulling three levers:
-Clearly stating how your request is connected to the goals they are trying to achieve
- Directly helping your peer achieve their goals (to strengthen your relationship)
- Pushing the organization to change their goals (takes longer, but could be the right approach)
How do they work
Next, after you learn their goals, it is important to learn how they work. Here, you should deep dive into high-level processes and workflows.
You should learn how key process work (as they could become bottlenecks for your projects in the future):
- How are the teams prioritizing their work? When are they doing that?
- How frequently they meet to discuss goals and rethink strategy and/or tactics?
- What is the process and how long it takes for Marketing Ops to run an analysis?
- How early you must request a social media post? Is the process different for email marketing?
When you learn the processes each team is running, it is easier to collaborate and request things at the right time and using the right format. Also, pushing to understand it shows that you care, and caring is the fastest path for a great relationship with your peers.
How you can influence them
Now, you understand their goals and motivations and learned the process they follow to get things done inside the organization.
Through this process, you are going to build credibility and trust, key elements for any successful peer-to-peer relationship. With your newly built trust, you can start pulling the lever I mentioned on the first block of this answer.
Risk: understanding too much
As it is clear from my answer, I believe that understanding what your peers are doing is crucial to succeed in this role. However, there is a risk in knowing too much about other people’s role: you can become too opinionated and step on other people’s toes.
Therefore, it is important to find a balance between understanding what they are doing to increase your influence vs. to tell them what to do.
Great question and something we talked about in yesterday's meet up in SF. Totally agree with all the comments made here.
One thing to add, I think every function in marketing needs to dip their toes into the workings of demand gen. or their sales team. Spending atleast 30 mins in a week, just getting feedback or even listening to one of demand gen. sales enablement calls, should be enough to get content or messaging aligned to the pitches that get prospects moving along the funnel.
Yes, it's crucial to understand how to work with your colleagues in demand generation, partner marketing, customer marketing, and any other roles within your team. Here at HubSpot we typically like to come up with a narrative around a product release and then meet with other teams in marketing to collaboratively establish plans for demand generation. We then organize these plans and share them with any/all stakeholders to ensure there is transparency and clear reporting on any product launches.
Nothing in a career path is ever truly "necessary," but is there significant value to tap for many PMMs by living a day in the shoes of your cross-functional partners? Absolutely!
We had a demand gen person leave the company and I was asked to play double-duty for a couple quarters. There's a ton you learn from having to actually do the job vs. just work with someone else to do the job. That learning helps you:
- Empathize more with the challenges your partners deal with on a day to day (e.g. what it takes to work with marketing operations to implement, monitor, and report on outcomes for an email program)
- Be a more valuable partner at all stages (e.g. you can more effectively brainstorm together because you've had to come up with programs yourself; you can help your partners scope opportunities because you've had to do the prioritization/capacity planning in the past)
- When necessary, push back more effectively by recognizing when people are either sand-bagging you, not thinking creatively enough about a roadblock, or are just under-performing (e.g. you're equipped with a much better idea of what it actually takes to get that program off the ground)
While I don't think it is absolutely crucial, it does help establish credibility and allow you to have more empathy for the teams you are working with. Product Marketing most often leads through influence and it is incredibly hard to influence others without establishing your credibility and understanding of the importance of their role.
Maybe this skills model will be helpful to you. I developed this in my coaching practice and use it for both CMOs to plan teams and ind. to plan careers. PMM lives at the bottom /right side of the diagram...Let me know if you'd like to discuss. To me you have to be well rounded not just in PMM but in all GTM to be a leader