What has worked well (or has not worked) as far as positioning your product marketing team within a larger marketing org?
This is a great question. A fair amount has been written about where Product Marketing should exist within the broader company structure—just Google "where should Product Marketing report" and you'll find a bunch of articles on the topic. During my time at Sprout Social, we spent more than 3 years as part of the Product Team and nearly 2 reporting within Maketing, which is where we currently sit. All of this is to say, being thoughtful about how you position your product marketing team within the company, regardless of where you officially report, is paramount to earning trust and establishing clear expectations with stakeholders and business partners.
Here are two specific thoughts from my experience with regards to positioning:
- An ethos I've tried to instill with my team from the beginning is "Do great work, and be great partners to work with." This may sound like a platitude (it sorta is) but it implicitly highlights the cross-functional nature of the product marketer's job. I've been intentional in socializaing this ethos across the company through All-Hands meetings, cross-departmental emails/newsletters, etc. to make it incredibly clear that our success as a product marketing team is inextricably linked to the success of the teams with which we partner.
- Another way I've positioned the team is to be product experts. In our job descriptions we explicitly state: "You possess the desire and capacity to garner a deep product knowledge while understanding the need to zoom out and tell concrete, compelling, benefit-focused stories about our platform and solutions. Your skills are part creative, part analytical and always centered around delivering relevant content that enhances our brand." Being an expert on the product doesn't mean having all the answers, but it does mean knowing where to go to get the answer.
As far as challenges in collaboration go, I’d say it really comes down to two things: explicit role clarity and clearly defining where the handoff point is for a given responsibility or initiative. It's easy as product marketers to want to see the process all the way through from end-to-end. As your business scales, that becomes almost impossbile.
Great question. I always tell my team that as product marketers we are the bridge between product development and the broader marketing & sales teams. We focus relationship building and collaboration in 3 areas:
- Product (development) team. At Square PMMs are embedded within the product teams so this is technically our home. Where we add value is bringing in the customers' voice when it comes to product strategy and roadmap. My team does a lot of work visiting customers, conducting qual/ quant research, collecting feedback from Sales, Account Management, Support, through our FB, Seller Community. This allows us to bring a strong customer perspective and have a seat at the table for product strategy and roadmap discussions.
- Marketing and sales channels. Help them do their jobs better. This includes having a clear point of view on where subscribers and growth are going to come from and guiding (but not directing) how they should be thinking about their tactical plans. For example, clear customer insights help paid marketing team develop better media plans; product proof points help content team write better content articles; sale collaterals/ training help Sales close more deals.
- Creative team. At Square we have an awesome in-house creative team. Just write kick ass creative briefs and inspire them!
- Being clear about what PMM's role and mission is, and ensuring other marketing leaders understand what your team does and doesn't do. Have open discussions about where there might be overlap between teams, and agree on how you'll handle it.
- Building relationships with others across the marketing org - both leaders but also at the IC level - and communicating openly, sharing your goals and plans, developing processes together, and getting buy-in as you plan
- Having a clear framework for prioritising requests that come in to the team, so others know how and why we prioritise some things over others
My experience has been that challenges collaborating with other teams can usually be overcome by doing the above and by communicating openly with leaders of the other teams within marketing - giving and asking for feedback, identifying problem areas, and tackling them together
I’ve found that most companies want the most capable people doing the most important work. If you prove your value as a PMM by making the team and company successful, bigger and better projects will naturally come your way.
When it comes to positioning the PMM team within marketing, it ultimately comes down to influencing the head of marketing. They want nothing more than for the marketing team to produce great work and achieve its goals. Whether marketing metrics are tied to pipeline, LTV, brand awareness, or all of the above, if the numbers aren’t going up, it reflects poorly on the whole marketing org – especially the person who runs it.
For that reason, I’ve never met a marketing leader who won’t eagerly listen to helpful ideas about better ways to do things, and how product marketing can play a vital role – as long as your ideas are presented as solutions tied to team objectives and don’t come across as a personal agenda.
The biggest challenge and frustration I’ve run into is feeling like the product marketing team is “back office” and not the face of their work. In siloed organizations, I’ve seen PMMs be responsible for messaging and positioning docs that they then ship to other teams to execute on. The content team writes the launch blog. The enablement team builds the sales collateral. And the corporate marketing team updates the website. There’s nothing “wrong” with this setup, but I don’t find it fulfilling, personally.
The best way to avoid that issue is to join a company that provides end-to-end ownership to PMMs. That’s most common at small and mid-size companies, but also exists elsewhere. It really depends on company culture and org structure. It’s something worth asking about in any interview process.
If you like your current company and want to drive change, the best thing to do is prove you’re the best person to do the work that matters (and that you care about). Focusing on quality in every deliverable is the best way to get there.
Regardless of the org structure, I’ve found RACI matrixes to be essential on cross-functional projects like launches. If people are uncertain what they’re responsible for, there’s no way the launch will happen on time, and be high-quality. If there are disagreements about ownership, they’ll surely surface when you send out the “RACI Proposal” ;) From there, you can discuss each team's role and land on the ideal setup for success.
Product marketing's biggest challenge (no matter anywhere I go) is defining the scope and sticking to it. Anything under the sun that is not Demand Gen or SEO tends to be seen as a job for product marketing. If we don't get a handle and drive the definition of role as product marketers and clearly write down what we own, and just as important what we don't own, we will be working against the grain. You may be doing a lot of great work, but that is always relative to expectations. In a nutshell, setting expectations is everything.
And it's not just with your boss and the exec team. It's important to position and sell the value and focus of product marketing for the rest of the org. Product marketing tends to be the team to go to when you don't know who else to ask about a marketing-related challenge. So it is very helpful to educate cross-functional teams like customer success, sales, and product on what it is that you own.
Love this question and something I had to do a ton when I first got to Eats and everybody was like - hold on, what is Product Marketing?
I talk a lot about internal marketing and say you have to Product Market, Product Marketing...This starts with a very clear and differentiated articulation of our value. For example, I made it very clear from Day 1 that PMM is the primary POC to Product within the Marketing organization and built teams, hired people, and reinforced with KPIs that story. Over time, that continued to build and we eventually built up a reputation (a brand!) that we were the team that had end-to-end product launch responsibility, that we helped shape both product and marketing roadmaps, and crafted the story, messaging, and positioning of our products.
Of course, there were a lot of challenges along the way, but find the ONE thing your team will do better than any other team - hire for it - measure it - and reinforce it.
Great question. Yes, been there & struggled there before. Think ultimately the more you can make product marketing a group of strategic thinkers and enablement gurus to marketing, the more clout your team will build. If demand gen wants to parnter with PMM to understand how to market features for a campaign, if content looks to product marketing for competitive intel or market insights to build content, those are all signs you've built a PMM with real value to the marketing org.
Within a large marketing team I have always positioned the Product Marketing team as the experts who are the go-to people for any product question and I make sure we indeed are. One of my personal reasons for moving into Product Marketing from Product Management was to alleviate the lack of technical know-how within our marketing team that contributed towards unclear messaging.
One of the biggest challenges that PMM's face is that they have to influence other people's work. Sales Enablement, Marketing and Customer Success for example rely on the PMM for delivering the product trainings, messaging frameworks, competitive knowledge etc. I encourage my team to develop a "Product Marketing Fit" Playbook that we then use to project manage the entire GTM roll-out. Taking the lead and the responsbility for the GTM plan helps PMM's collaborate better with the rest of the organization.
- Define (with your team) a short, memorable mission statement.
- Create a short slide deck that introduce your team, its mission, what you stand for, and some of the work you're the most proud of
- Show that deck to in the marketing organization, but also sales, product, etc.
- Refer to that mission statement whenever you get a chance (it's your WHY): in strategy presentations, sales updates, team meetings, etc.
I personally meet with every new joiner in our stakeholder group and I always tell them the same story. I ask my team members to do the same.