We break down product marketing’s work into four buckets and work with product as follows during each of the phases:
I’d start by doing a listening tour. Understand where they are in their PMM learning journey (have they worked with PMM before? How much do they know about the role?), needs or pain points they have, and their expectations of you in the role (not all of which will be correct nor need to be fulfilled). This will help you understand how much education and alignment you’ll need to build.
Then, get to work crafting your PMM lane. Clearly specify what you will (and won’t) do, where the handoff points are, what the engagement model looks like and how people can reach out to you with requests, and who to go to for work that falls outside of your scope. Get alignment with your manager, and then do a roadshow so that all your stakeholders are aware and aligned.
Upfront, I just want to call out something that you all likely already know - PMM’s strategic and interconnected role makes it difficult to pinpoint and measure impact. Strategic, foundational work is hard to measure. And being so interconnected means that there are heaps of dependencies and variables. Shared goals and metrics are part of the job, so get comfortable with that. Build communicative, productive partnerships with the teams that have shared goals and align on the approach. Celebrate successes and failures together, do post-mortems, and learn and improve hand-in-hand.
Now, onto the question.
PMM should be responsible for all activities related to customer and market knowledge (market research, competitive research and differentiation, target audience definition, etc), messaging & positioning, and teeing up the launch by providing briefs and foundational materials that enable channels (web and marketing assets, sales readiness and enablement, PR, demand gen, etc).
Demand Gen should be responsible for all activities related to the performance of the campaign (SEO optimization, SEM, promotions, direct advertising strategy, email marketing, and paid ads).
Because demand gen will rely on product marketing to support campaigns by defining what products/features/experiences to highlight, for which audiences, and what language to use, the work is inevitably linked. It is clear why KPIs like CAC (customer acquisition cost), LTV (lifetime value), win rate, marketing/sales cycle length, campaign metrics, etc. are often used by both demand gen and product marketing -- they span the work of these two teams and many more.
Imagine you have a goal of making a delicious cake. To do so, you need high quality ingredients (PMM) and a skilled baker (demand gen). If the cake doesn’t come out well, it will be impossible for the person eating the cake to understand what went wrong -- but, you can input tests along the way to get signal. Test messaging using surveys or a customer advisory board. Run small experiments before investing a lot into demand gen to understand messaging’s impact on conversion. This can be an indicator of whether you’ve got quality ingredients.
Rather than a KPI, the things I see teams miss most often is looking at output rather than impact. Before setting KPIs, it is key to establish what you want to achieve and why at an organizational level. After companies set their north star and goals, that should flow into department priorities, team priorities, and individual priorities.
Product marketers can then use an output to impact framework to plan their work. Start with the impact on the organizational level (ARR, new subscribers, churn, ACV, pricing tier adoption, CAC, win rate, LTV, etc). Then examine how you could help the organization achieve those impacts through your work. Map how your work will ladder up to the impact and identify what the leading indicators will be. So for example, if the company has an ARR target, you can impact by identifying and helping get a feature prioritized that is resulting in closed lost. Through a GTM campaign that drives awareness, you can use a combination of campaign and conversion metrics and win loss data to measure your impact -- closed lost for X reason decreased by Y%, increasing conversion by Z%, ultimately resulting in _ net new ARR.
Three big impacts of having a self-serve product include 1 - there is no sales readiness & enablement that is part of the role. That also means you’ll rely more heavily on other methods to drive conversion and adoption. 2 - you likely have access to more data more quickly (larger lead base and shorter sales cycle). Lucky you! Take advantage by doing things like AB messaging tests on your website early to get signal that you are on the right track. And you probably are - you’ve got this!
A few things come to mind to try:
Good luck! Those dynamics can be challenging.
Start with data. Ground your messaging in first and third party data that illuminates what is important to your target customers, key pain points, aspirations, how they like to be messaged to, language they use, etc.
Show your work -- don’t just include the suggested messaging in the doc; add an appendix or reference section that demonstrates a thoughtful approach that is grounded in the data.
Next, see if you can get some quick feedback from target customers on your messaging to further validate the approach before showing it to your exec team. This can be a great use of a CAB (customer advisory board). This can arm you with answers to questions that may come up or resolve differences of opinions that may arise.
Finally, send the doc as a pre-read, ask execs to add in comments at least 1 day before you host a meeting to go through the doc. Also include a RAPID so it is clear who the final decision maker is. Use the meeting to get resolution and alignment live - this is generally much faster than trying to manage async. You might not get alignment on every last detail, but this is where the decision maker comes in.
A variety of tools can be helpful in getting stakeholders aligned on the marketing strategy – the key to them all is that they are based on data and customer insights. When you are articulating your strategy, provide links to supporting research, personas, shopper journey’s, etc. These should articulate who your target customers are, what they care most about, how to influence them during the purchase or upsell process, and how they interact with your product. By highlighting the key takeaways and linking to deeper dives, you have handy tools right at your fingertips to resolve differences in perspective and answer key stakeholder questions that emerge during the strategy development process.
My advice is to separate the ship and launch functions. In my experience when they are paired together, there is so much unproductive internal thrash when eng encounters delays and all the downstream teams have to re-adjust their plans. Instead, group new products and features into larger campaigns where if something doesn’t get released on time, you still have a compelling story to tell and your campaign doesn’t get derailed. Set expectations that all features must ship by X date to be included in the campaign.
This also has the benefit of creating more impactful launch moments where you can tell a bigger, richer story about the value you are delivering to customers through a plethora of new offerings.
I’d keep an eye on all the indicators - leading and lagging.
For leading, do your campaign metrics indicate that people are interested and engaged? How is this helping you fill your funnel? Can you use technology like Gong, which records and transcribes sales conversations, to track keywords associated with the launch? Was there a spike in keyword use post campaign? And were mentions in a positive context?
For lagging, what did win/loss reveal? Was the product/feature instrumental in their decision? How did they find out about it?