When building a team, how would you ideally split responsibilities? By product line? By PMM function (CI, enablement, GTM, etc)?
DO IT ALL -> FUNCTIONAL -> BY PRODUCT -> GRID
It depends on the size of your team and the maturity of the company. Typically what I have seen is that -
- With 1-2 PMMs - it's "do it all" approach. These PMMs take on all responsibilities - Positioning, Messaging, Launches, Product GTM, Competitive, and Market Intel. However, that is doable at that size of the company beacuse PMM counterparts are doing the same. Sales will be a small team, the sales team won't wait for sales enablement to happen, they hustle and build their own pitch deck. Same for the product team
- As the company grows and you have 4-5 PMMs - It might make sense to start organizing the team by functional expertise. My assumption is that the company is still a single product company (90%+ revenue is coming from your core product)
- As you launch more revenue-generating products, you might want to assign PMMs per product and still have a bench with functional expertise. The product PMMs will start becoming SMEs for the product, the target market, use cases. The functional experts will amplify their efforts
- At the next stage, you will want to align with your product and sales teams and this will result in a grid structure for the team. You will have product GTM teams, industry, solutions mkt team, regional PMM (ex: LATAM or EMEA), Market Intel, AR, Sales Enablement, Pricing. As you grow, you may want to assign PMMs to company priorities (For example - if you are trying to drive from product led growth for your product, it's best to have a PMM that is focused on driving trial to paid conversions)
A bit of both. My ideal PMM sqad has a set of core product marketing folks that are organized by product line. In addition to core product marketing, my team owns customer marketing, lifecycle marketing, competitive marketing + analyst relations. With the core discipline + specialization you can tackle the majors and minors of what good looks like (at scale) for PMM.
In my own experience as an individual contributor as well as a leader of a pmm team, I've consistently had better results when pmm is divided by product line rather than function. This allows for greater ownership as well as the ability to learn and develop your skills across the full pmm practice.
I love this question – and I am going to take a different approach to my answer here. One of the things I think product marketers can struggle with is responsibility versus authority. To be effective in their role, product marketers must be highly collaborative, lead and influence people who don’t report to them, and engage a wide group of stakeholders – especially for large go-to-market moments. I like to structure my teams to give product marketers the most autonomy possible, so they can have both the responsibility and the authority. As a manager, I want to be able to send one product marketer who can make strategic decisions into a working group—not 2, not 3, one. To do this, I recommend first looking at how your sales teams are structured. Is it by segment or by product line? How is your product management organization structured? Organizing product marketers works best when they can own a product (or own a thematic topic) over a portfolio of products, so they can find that sweet spot of responsibility and authority.
PMM Org design really depends on a few different variables. You want to consider:
- the maturity of your product
- You GTM strategy
- How your cross-functional teams are structured
- What the biggest company objectives are for the next 12 months
If you have multiple products or a complex, mature or sophisticated product/platform: you might consider aligning closely to the product org
If you have dual GTM motions: Product-led and Sales-led: you might consider splitting responsibilities that way
If you work at an established company with a ton of hiring budget - then you can afford to build a highly specialized team with people focused on specific roles with PMM like CI, Sales enablement, etc.
I almost always prefer full-stack PMM teams with a matrix or hybrid approach - not only does this give you good coverage across your team but it also helps you grow different skills on your team.
My ideal PMM team is split on both dimensions. There are vertical PMMs who are aligned by product/segment/audience. Then there are ‘horizontal’ PMMs who lead launches, CI, enablement, campaigns, etc. supporting all products and audiences
In reality, you may not have the resources to build this ‘ideal’ team. In this case, focus on ‘majors’ and ‘minors’. Maybe someone is owning a new, fledgling product as their ‘Major’ while also covering enablement for all products as their ‘Minor’
If you are truly a small PMM team (say <4 folks), then splitting by product makes most sense. This way - you can staff up with ‘full stack’ PMMs who own voice of customer, messaging, enablement and launches for their product. As a manager, you could lay down the process and the rules of engagement to ensure consistency across all products. Aligning by product also helps drive better engagement with PM
I won’t say there is an ideal way to split responsibilities, it will depends on a number of variables related to the current situation of your company (size of the company, number of products and general capabilities of your workforce)
The two ways you refered to are the most common ones and each can work depending on the situation, here some ideas that can help you choose:
Product line structure: Could work better with companies that serve many products and that have highly knowledgeable specialists per line of product.
PMM function structure: If you have a more knowledgeable team based on functions and areas this could work better, also is a good structure when managing less product lines.
I've found aligning to key stakeholders is the most bullet proof option. There are many different variations but here are the ones that I've seen work most often:
Core PMM -> Product
GTM PMM -> Sales
Corp Mktg -> Exec
Partner PMM -> Business Development
Make sure every team and person is aligned to a key stakeholder in the company.
This is a great question and I would say one that depends entirely on what your product line is comprised of.
Larger SaaS with multiple products: For a larger company that has multiple product lines, splitting PMMs up by product line is going to be the most successful. This will allow individuals to become SMEs in their area while covering the scope of the role from end to end. Of course, if you're able to have multiple PMMs supporting each product-line (which can often be the case) you can start creating a bit more of a matrix and introducing splits across PMM function. Typically, I try to refrain from doing this too much since it can pigeon-hold individuals into specialty areas.
Another way of thinking about structuring a team across product lines can be looking at what features make up each product and having s PMM cover specific features with typically a more senior PMM that looks at the product as a whole.
Smaller companies with 1-2 products: For smaller companies splitting by product function tends to be a bit easier in that the PMMs can be SME's as well as main points of contact cross-functionally to support internal initiatives like sales enablement, GTM, release management, marketing programs, etc.