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What hard skills are must haves vs nice to have, to be a Product Marketing leader?

7 Answers
Robert McGrath
Robert McGrath
Deel Head of Global Marketing + ExpansionMay 11

Presentation & communication skills are at the top of my list as must-haves. In Product Marketing, you're forever positioning your team and its value. Whether that's within sales enabling a narrative or USP, or in your day-to-day communications with internal leaders. Being clear, empathic to the audience and telling an interesting story will set you apart and allow you to be even more persuasive in building a coalition of support for your team and the individual projects they're working on. 

2867 Views
Naman Khan
Naman Khan
Personio Chief Marketing OfficerJuly 7

I approach competenices in 2 areas: Functional and Core.

  • Functional competenices are specific to the role, so for PMM these would include messaging, pricing, content etc. I actually did a session on these last year
  • Core competenices are applicable across roles and are usually defined at the company level, like collaboation, managing ambiguity, decision making etc.

For PMM, there are a handful of competenices I think are "foundational" in nature across both areas:

Functional:

  • Target Market & Audience Definition: A building block of PMM is identifying the market and the audience that is the target for your product. This involves working with market research, customers, support, sales and more to learn about the customer, build behavioral, demographic and firmographic data to define a clear segment & persona. This is a ton of work and takes time to do well.
  • Product Positioning & Messaging: Ability to define clear positioning and messaging framework that’s hardened and thoroughly backed by data. If you can remove your companies logo and replace with a competitor, it's not quite there yet.
  • Core Content: Delivery of the core bill of materials needed to communicate your product value to your audience. This can include web copy, email templates, pitch decks, lead gen assets and more. You actually need to be able to write a bit of copy or work with a copywriter than can extend your messaging.

Core:

  • Cross Group Collaboration: An awesome attribute of PMM is the exposure this role has across product managers, engineers, finance, legal, brand, sales & more. With this comes the challenge of establishing strong collaboration across teams that are quite different.
  • Communication Clarity: Although we might not be communications specialists, as marketers we do need to be able to communicate clearly and succinctly. Proposing why the upcoming feature should only go into the enterpise SKU plan shouldn't take more than 30s to explain.
  • Planning & Organization: Any PMM that has ever been through a launch moment knows its like orchestrating 5 weddings that take place on the same day. Will the images in the product video match what we'll release on GA? Will the demo scripts have the latest messaging? Will the registration app send reminders to peole who already registered? Will there be road contruction that day? All of this requires strong planning & organization skills.
2025 Views
Lindsay Bayuk
Lindsay Bayuk
FullStory CMOOctober 27

I’d say that a great product marketing leader needs to be great at the basics: research, positioning, messaging, enablement. They also need to be able to lead strategy for both marketing and product, clearly talk about their space, the competitive landscape and communicate with Executives and customers. A great product marketing leader is someone others follow. They are influencer and a thought leader. They push their teams, companies and products forward. They are exceptionally proactive and energetic about their work. 

1874 Views
Marcus Andrews
Marcus Andrews
Pendo Sr. Director of Product MarketingDecember 15

I think to be a great PMM leader, it's really important to have done the work. So to have owned massive product lauches, designed narratives, led sales trainings, etc. PMM can be an ambigous job so a leader that hasn't been there done that usually isn't succesful. 

The hard skill then left to learn is management. Coaching, support, leadership, alignment. That's a hard skill that you can't overlook. Just becuase someone is a great PMM doesn't mean they will become a great PMM leader. It takes knowledge, practice, and time to acheive that just like anything else. 

2370 Views
Marissa Hastings
Marissa Hastings
Codecademy Group Product Marketing ManagerMay 7

These are the skills I screen for in PMM interviews:

  1. Cross-functional teamwork: especially experience working with product and bringing together teams from various parts of the org (marketing, creative, sales, etc.)
  2. Go-to-market experience: demonstrates successful track record of executing successful launches and hitting goals
  3. Insights + strategy: user and competitive insights development. Familiarity with executing various qual + quant research methods. 
  4. Positioning: can develop clear and compelling product + feature positioning and communicate it in a way that's usable by stakeholders
  5. Communication: PMMs are often the quarterback and responsible for communicating upward and across teams to keep everyone aligned. Ability to anticipate stakeholder needs/concerns and communicate clearly and with the right level of detail for various groups is a crucial skill
816 Views
Sahil Sethi
Sahil Sethi
BetterUp Ex-SVP Product MarketingOctober 25

Ah, I am assuming you mean PMM ‘hard skills’ like positioning, launches, enablement etc. and not soft skills/leadership skills like communication, goal setting, team building etc.

There are three hard skills I expect every PMM leader to have

  • Ability to answer three questions well "What, Why, How" for any product , for any audience (Positioning and messaging)
  • Ability to train an internal team (ideally sales or CS) on that narrative. (Enablement)
  • Ability to storytell the product to a customer (Demo)

In short, I expect every PMM leader to have built a detailed messaging framework, a customer pitch deck and an ideal demo - and delivered that to customers and internal teams. If you have done that well, and enjoy doing it again and again , and can coach others on how to do that well - you have the minimum ‘must-haves’ for a PMM leader

The next set of hard skills I would optimize for will be GTM strategy development, product launches, compete , pricing/packaging, persona research etc.

450 Views
🟧 Hugo H. Macedo 🟧
🟧 Hugo H. Macedo 🟧
Advisor & Investor | Product Marketing Expert | B2BJanuary 23

I would highlight two

Data Analysis and business acumen - be proficient enough to dive into the data and understand how the business performs in several contexts - marketing, product, sales, CS,...
You depend on receiving others' conclusions and directions if you don't have this. As a leader, you need to get input and form your opinion with access to the raw information/data. Usually overlooked by some, PMMs can't be only in the "messaging" corner, doing pretty words. PMMs must understand the business deeply, or they become just "enablement" people. Needless to say, you need to understand the business model, and the acronyms associated with it (e.g. ARR, NDR, Win-rate, Sales Cycle, Sales velocity...)

Communication & Stakeholder management - communication means articulating effectively to a particular audience (not only external) but mostly internal - each function is different, and you need to understand and connect with them in a different way. Stakeholder management means you work with stakeholders to influence them and manage their expectations. Often, PMM only has soft power, not hierarchical or mandate to dictate a direction - so the magic is how to influence people to adopt/consume/use what PMM produces. Or else you risk producing strategies and artifacts that are not used.

173 Views
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