I think a universal experience among product marketers is that the role and contribution of product marketing is highly dependent on the company or organization that you are working for/ applying to- size, focus, where the pmm's sit in the organization, all are influencing factors. To that end, before the hiring process even begins, I spend a lot of time getting clarity on the purpose + goals + focus of the role and the outcomes that need to be achieved. It's from there that I start to create a framework of interview questions that will align and assess to the top needs and then I'll develop a pretty robust conversation and interview track from there. That said, here are the big three that I always come back to:
- How do you as a candidate define the role of product marketing? When you think about your last couple of roles, what has product marketing been responsible for owning, and why do you think that was the same or different in the organizations you worked for?
-Tell me about your current customers. What do I need to know about them in order to successfully market to them?
-What are you wanting to learn or unlock for yourself in your next role.
The question comes up a lot in product marketing. It is particularly challenging when you are in a product marketing role or on projects that lean heavy into influence or when your organization is stacked with channel owners. Simply put- there is no one metric that suits all product marketing.
That said, at the outset of any project, it is critical to discuss what the hypothesis or goal of the work is and how you intend to measure the success of the outcome. Since product marketing is cross functional, I'd look to align goals and outcomes around known or proxy metrics and I'd urge communication- consistently + often around them.
Every company and every growth stage is different so the evaluative framework you utilize needs some flexibility. I recommend that your framework is developed in tandem with your partner stakeholders early on and is communicated often. A reliable framework includes a clear organizing principal, inputs, outputs/ impact, measurements, and timelines. As a first product marketer, I'd also advocate including a line item for dependencies and cross functional asks. Once you start building momentum in an organization, the asks come in quickly and from multiple directions. Your framework will allow you better yield management and help you organize and prioritize where you dedicate your efforts.
I really appreciate this question and to be candid, it's a challenge that scales up and down, whether your moving from an IC to having your first direct report all the way up to when you run a department and have several product marketers reporting to you. My best piece of advice here is to be highly structured in how you approach your work phases + set time aside for each phase of your work and to be absolutely ruthless about your calendar.
Whether your a product marketer or just a new employee, the most important thing you can do is to ASK WHY + LISTEN.0-30 days - Talk to everyone. Ask Why 5 times. Don't make any assumptions and ask lots of questions. Dive into your broad market and understand the competitve landscape. Form an objective opinion of where your new company and products fit in, and then dive deep into your customers and thier experience. You bring fresh eyes and I'd recommend compiling copious notes on what you observe in product from the frustrating to the delightful. Jump into the data and start to understand the business model and levers at your disposal.30-60- Invest in building relationships with stakeholders and teams. Start to understand their KPI's and how they function as a unit. Start sharing your observations and validating where to make investments and prioritze projects and time. Balance low hanging fruits/ short term impact projects with longer term strategic plans. 60-90 days - Get feedback from teams and start to go narrower and deeper into your work. You've likely been pulled in several directions at this point, so start to prioritize over pleasing. You may find yourself saying "no" more than "yes." Lay out your resource asks or limitiations and be bold in your recommendations and improvement strategy.
I remain surprised by how many digital professionals or companies with outsized product footprints are still unfamiliar with the specialty of "product marketing." When your the first hire of this kind, I'd recommend being prepared to talk about the scope of product marketing and take the opportunity to help crystalize where your initial focus area will be. It's also helpful to walk through the types of projects and impacts that you've worked on in the past and how they can translate or be depolyed at your new gig.
My advice for a mostly remote consultant is very similiar to that for any product marketer, on or offsite. First and foremost, make it a top priority to invest and build relationships with your key working partners and stakeholders. Create a regular reoccuring cadence for 1:1's or working meetings and make the time to dialogue on the vision, goals, and strategy of the things you are working on. Early on in your consultancy, ask a lot of questions so you can start to build out your own point of view and frame what it is that your stakeholders are prioritizing. I'd also recommend that early on you establish the practice of bringing insights and a point of view reguarly to your partners, so that you establish yourself as a resource and expert that they can rely on- ie. voice of customer, competitive research, messaging, etc.
It takes time at any company to increase the visibility of a new department and or function. Building trust takes time and I believe you need to be adaptable and cognizant of the company culture you are in.I am a firm believer in building relationships cross-functionally and making deep investments in both the people and the problems that those people are solving for. To this end, a genuine and insatiable curiousity and empathy for your user and product is a product marketer's super power. Begin by building momentum with consistent delivery for your partners (on launches, comm's, etc). Develop a practice around sharing insights and outcomes (both the good and the bad). Be the constant advocate and voice of your customer (with data). Know thy business case and how your company makes money. Frame and adapt your business cases and conversations to the audiences in the room. Shift your conversation from tactical outcomes to make larger connections to anchored on insights and impacts. Your ability to think bigger and through a broader lens than strictly "product marketing" should net you a more strategic seat at the table.
The short answer is this is highly dependent and should be greatly influenced by the product and the company that you are part of. This is the dilemma of all things product marketing, there is no one size fits all nor silver bullet answer. I've had equal success with pod models, where a product marketer is embedded with a cross functional teams to work on a particular product or vertical as I have had with creating teams solely focused on bringing products to market. I advocate begining by assessing the individual strengths and professional interests of your team. I'd also work with your partners on product to understand the same and work together to map resources towards goals. At the end of the day a successful product marketing team is going to be comprised of individuals who are excited and engaged by the work they do and the team they work with.
Product marketing is different at every company, large or small. In my own experience, at every company the product marketing function tends be very fluid and flexible to the needs of the business or product as it develops, changes, and scales.
At smaller organizations, teams tend to run fairly lean and it would not be unusual to find the projects or goals of product marketing to be in flux quarter to quarter. You could be pulled on a team to help move a stubborn metric as easily as you might be tasked with creating a new customer communication strategy.
At a bigger company where the teams may be larger or have more functional or specialized experts, the product marketing function may be utilized more deeply as a strategic consultant with a focus on growing or developing a nascent area of the business in full.