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We only have one product at HoneyBook but PMM does a lot of different things, ie, lifecycle marketing, research, competitive, feature launches, etc.
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Tiffany Tooley
Head Of Product Marketing at HubSpot | Formerly Salesforce, IBM, Silverpop, BlackboardMarch 7

This is a fun question! I'd say you want to typically start with the Product first. If you have overlap, meaning one persona often purchases multiple products (especially if they're purchasing them at once), then you could certainly consider starting with the Persona approach first and building a solutions strategy over a product-oriented one. If however, your persona typically purchases one product at a time, I recommend you start with the Product approach and then support your teams with a better understanding of the factors that matter most to your primary personas, so those can help inform them and your buyers as they make their purchase decisions. 

Customer lifecycle stage is something else to consider early on if you have one product or if you have a fair large or sophisticated team.  

Patrick Cuttica
Product Marketing Lead at Square | Formerly Sprout SocialOctober 15

This will vary from company to company depending on what industry you’re in, the make-up of your product portfolio, what your go-to-market and sales strategy looks like (are you strictly enterprise-focused or SMB-focused? Do you sell across all segments? etc.), the overall stage of the company, and probably many other factors.

At Sprout, we started with a dedicated Go-to-Market team that was made up of essentially product marketing generalists who owned a large swath of responsibilities. This team was myself and one other person to start. It has grown to 5 focused on go-to-market (not including myself) today. Organizationally, we aligned a Product Marketer with a Product Manager and set the expectation that they become domain experts on that specific product or product area. As we were scaling, that product marketer was responsible for supporting their product area with core product positioning, product launches and release management, various sales enablement efforts, assisting with in-app copywriting, executing internal product enablement (technical trainings, demo environment, etc.). The list was really quite long.

Over time, as our company has grown and stakeholder needs have become more sophisticated, we started to see areas where we either needed to add specialization on our team, or we could actually handoff some of that existing work to other teams that were growing and establishing specializations themselves. For example, we (Product Marketing) added a dedicated Competitive Intelligence person and a Sales Content Writer. We grouped them under a sub-team we call Sales Readiness. This mightly team of two covers competitive intel, win/loss analysis, analyst relations and the production of all sales assets (slides, sell sheets, case studies, talk tracks/objection handling, etc.)

At the same time, our Sales Org and Product Team were growing (fast!) and they built out a focused Sales Enablement team consisting of proper sales trainers and a pre-sales Solutions Engineering team. We saw this as a huge opportunity for partnership. Both of these new teams allowed us to handoff ownership of many responsibilities like sales and technical trainings and the upkeep of the demo environment which had become large efforts.

The important thing to keep in mind is to not bite off more than you can chew. It's easy for Product Marketing to be the catch all for any content, strategy or initiative that the Product, Sales and Marketing teams need supported. Be intentional in where you dedicate your time/effort and work with your stakeholders to priortize which areas you can expand into as you grow. 

Jasmine Jaume
Director, Product Marketing at Intercom October 25

I wrote about this in another answer, so I'll copy it below but also add this additional point -

When thinking about team structure and new roles, we think about 3 things:

  1. What does the business need? Are there areas we need to support better? New areas coming up we'll need to support? Where are we over capacity?
  2. What does the individual want to be doing? What are their strengths? 
  3. Will this person have a clear career path? Is it clear what their next step will be? How will they be able to expand in this role? How do they fit into the wider team?

How we structure our team:

We've changed our structure several times over the years as the business has grown and priorities have shifted, but because PMM at Intercom works very closely with product we have always largely mapped PMMs to specific solutions or product areas.

Our current team structure roughly mirrors that of the product team. That means we have 1 or more PMMs mapped to each specific product group, which are either focused on a solution (for example our support solution) or a product area (for example, platform which covers our data platform, app ecosystem etc.) Some groups have multiple PMMs, depending on how big the group in R&D is - we aim for a ratio of 1 PMM to 2 or 3 PMs. 

These PMM roles are what's typically called 'full stack' - i.e. they do everything from inputting to the product strategy, to taking those products to market including messaging and positioning, launches, and enabling marketing and sales. We do this because we've found that lots of PMMs find satisfaction in being involved in the whole product lifecycle.

We also have some additional groups within PMM that aren't directly tied to a specific solution or product area. These include our Enablement group - focused on enabling our sales and demand teams - and our 'Core' group - which owns our overarching positioning and GTM strategy (inc. personas, support analyst relations etc). I recently wrote a post on the Intercom blog that gets into a bit more detail about how we work.

Katherine Kelly
Head of Product Marketing at Benchling | Formerly ExactTarget (Salesforce Marketing Cloud), Zendesk, Slack, SalesforceMay 19

Ooo this is a great question. And I have a great answer - it depends!

In all seriousness - I've long been a believer that there's no perfect model for a PMM team, it really comes down to the needs of the business and maturity of the organization.

As a general rule of thumb, I like to have an owner for every major intersection of buyer and product. So if you have two very different buyers of the same product, it might make sense to have a PMM owner for those personas. If you have two very different products to the same buyer, it may make sense to have a PMM owner for each product. If you have a complex system of multiple buyer segment/personas and may need to build a matrixed team to scale to cover all those key intersections. I'd say most commonly I've ended up with some kind of matrix.

The next consideration is maturity of your PMM processes - if you have a fairly mature organization where day to day functional foundation (launch processes, pricing and packaging process, enablement, quarterly planning, competitive, etc) are in place...great, focus on getting coverage of your key buyer/product intersections. If not - you may want to hire someone with that functional expertise and task them with building that foundation. For some period of time that may be more critical to you than having those intersections covered.

Hope this helps!

Adam Kerin
SVP of Marketing at Truework January 18

Perhaps similar to HoneyBook, Truework has one core platform, but the fit within different industry verticals is completely different. Different features are the key selling points, there are different buying personas, and a different sales pitch all means we want different PMMs focused on these different segments.

For example, today we have one PMM focused on the mortgage industry, and we’re hiring for another to lead all things in consumer lending (e.g. personal and auto loans). While each customer offers loans and uses our core platform, the capabilities within that platform have different value prop, and thus different messaging. The competitors in each space are also not the same, with drastically different pricing and features, leading to different positioning.

I’m assuming there may be very different features sets, campaigns, and sales pitches needed for HoneyBook as well. For example, your B2C customers may be attracted to a very different set of features (e.g. online payments and scheduling) compared to your B2B customers (e.g. invoicing and contracts). If so, that may be a better use of the next head count rather than a functional specialist.

Another indicator could come from your company's growth. For example, our Sales department is growing massively, so much so that they are paying anyone up to $60k for successful referrals. To make sure marketing doesn’t become a bottleneck to onboarding and training these account execs, we’re hiring a Sales Enablement specialist.

Andrew Stinger
Head Of Marketing at Universe June 1

The foundations of a strong Product Marketer are going to look and feel a lot like the foundations of a strong overall marketer: Can you connect as many of your target users as possible to the value of your product? That can happen via exciting brand experiences, growth marketing nurture campaigns, well-placed social posts, and more.

On most Product Marketing teams I’ve been a part of, there are two dimensions to the organizational matrix: (1.) PMMs aligned at the top level as a function, and then (2.) PMMs “dotted-lined” to a focus area, which can be product coverage, audience coverage, or functional expertise.

Doing #1 (keeping PMMs together as a team) helps establish a functional center for excellence and consistency across your business. For example, briefs will share a similar structure which enables partners from the rest of the business know how to find what they’re looking for, regardless of which PMM “owns” the coverage area.

Doing #2 in tandem with #1 creates agency and ownership amongst PMMs. If everyone owns everything, then no one owns anything. So, it’s important to have clear owners of business focus areas. If the company is aligned around product areas, then it makes sense to map PMMs to those areas. If the company is aligned around personas, verticals, or firmographic opportunities, then it makes sense to map PMMs to those areas. If it’s a mix—then you get to work a bit of your organizational magic :)

Angus Maclaurin
Director of Product Marketing at BILL February 1

PMMs are often tied to specific products more than lifecycle stages. In general we aim for a 3:1 PMM to PM ratio - meaning the PMM needs to have deep knowledge about each of those products, market needs, and personas. They should be the expert in a product from end to end. It’s not ideal if a PM has to go to one PMM for personas, and another for pricing. I’m a big believer in developing close relationships with PM and partnering closely with them on all parts of the customer lifecycle.

That said, there can be exceptions based on talent or company needs. If you have a candidate that is incredible at a specific functional area such as market research, and you can justify a full-headcount to that area, then you can adjust in that scenario. Often this will be the case in larger companies that can afford that level of specialization.

Zachary Fox
Director of Product + Customer Marketing at Resultados Digitais October 21

We followed a somewhat similar path as Patrick and I couldn't agree more about thinking through all those aspects of the company, strategy, customer and product portfolio. As my company serves primarily SMB customers we didn't have that as a variable and grew focused on our products, of which we have 2 and whose PMMs focus is basically as Patrick aligned his, with product feedback collection also a key part.

We also had a strong need to support growth via our two main channels: inbound marketing and our partner channel so we added a person to support each. The now 2-person team focused on our inbound channel is responsible for competitive intel, sales enablement and BoFu marketing strategy as well as personas and journey research. The partner PMM is responsible for launching new plans and products in the channel, supporting our partners with product enablement, supporting our partner sales teams with enablement and collecting feedback from partners.

In previous companies I've seen these sales and marketing enablement and competitive teams fit under the PMM lead for each large product but for us the bottom of our marketing + sales funnel needed such a strategic makeover that it made sense to break out separately with more senior people leading the charge.