Congratulations on considering a career in product marketing. I "carried a bag" (literally) and it was an invaluable experience.
The good news is that you have a ton of useful knowledge: customer needs, your customers' buying groups and personas, their buying process, and more. You probably have some true empathy for customer pains that your product can solve. Skills that you may need to build up:
- Writing. Lots of it.
- Critical thinking and analytical skills. Product marketers have to see beyond the deal and the customer to look at the bigger picture.
-Cross-functional collaboration. Product marketing's success depends on many other teams doing stuff.
Skills you may need to develop:
- Understanding of marketing technology and measurement approaches.
- Understanding market research and quantitative analysis
I use different templates depending on the company, nature of the product, and relative importance of the launch (see related question on this topic), but the elements I would include:
This sounds like a classic case of product family positioning, where you would define a common positioning for what makes Shopify unique across both products. And then absolutely, you would do separate competitive positioning for each product edition based on the needs of the customers it serves and the competitive environment.
Glad that you're already planning to 1:1's. Taking the time to understand your stakeholders' perspectives is an important first step in building trust. I don't have a standard list of questions. I come in with observations (what I learned prior to engaging with my client or from previous stakeholder converations) and ask both closed- and open-ended questions. Examples: "This message is for CMOs, but traditionally you have sold to product managers. What are the things your sales team will need to do to reach CMOs, besides just having different messaging." Versus, "What headline would you want to see the press using in 3 months?"
Prepare for each 1:1 by doing your research on the person and his or her role in the company. Come in with 25% more questions than you think you'll have time to ask. End by asking them if there's anything that you can help with immediately. Follow up on any requests you get.
The first step is executive alignment. When I start an engagement with a client, I do a thorough messaging audit including internal stakeholders, customers, and sometimes analysts. I analyze my findings, present them to the key stakeholders, and get their buy-in before beginning the actual messaging process. It's also important to note that some of these key stakeholders don't know what positioning and messaging are. They may not care. You'll need to educate them. Positioning is how your product fits in the world (product-market-fit) and different from alternatives. Messaging is the product's story to the outside world.
Pricing–and ownership of pricing–is often a loaded topic for companies. My view is that product marketing, not product management, should own pricing. (Of course I am biased because I am a product marketer!) Why? Product management’s primary focus should be on the vision for the product. Product marketing is responsible for bringing that product to market. Pricing is an integral part of a go-to-market strategy, one of the 4 P’s.
At the highest level, pricing is driven by:
Of course, product management and product marketing both have responsibilities in all three C’s. Product management is typically more involved in #1 (along with Finance), product marketing in #2 and #3 (along with Sales).
Good question! Over my career, I have seen release cycles shrink a lot and fewer and fewer requests for datasheets!
1. Minimize the number of "sources of truth." If you can get away with just having a web page, do it. If you need printed collateral, what about a piece that explains the value proposition and includes a QR code for a web page that shows the details? Likewise, makie sure that internal information is stored in as few places as possible.
2. Set a threshold for the number or signifance of features that would trigger a datasheet update. P1/ P2/ P3 releases.
3. Streamline the production process as much as possible, so updates aren't as painful.
There’s no single career path that leads to a product marketing position. In B2B SaaS companies, I have seen successful transitions to product marketing from product management, sales engineering, consulting, corporate marketing, consumer brand management, and customer success. I have also seen failed transitions from all of these roles.
Regardless of your prior work experience, I think a successful product marketer will need to exhibit all of these skills:
Medium- to large-sized companies typically have a sales enablement team that focuses on this exact problem. In a smaller company, sales enablement often falls on product marketing. In that case, how can you make sales enablement work?
I have found that sources of competitive insights differ quite a bit from market category to market category. It's looking at the totality of information - what you find publicly, win-loss data, information from customers or analysts, etc. - that is the path to insights.
I don't use a "framework" to get clarity on the competitive position but look at:
- What matters to customers?
- What does my product have that other products don't?
- Where is my product particularly strong?
For a visual view (especially to communicate with executives and sales leaders), a Harvey ball type chart is useful, that is a matrix of competitors comparing features and functionality for each of the criteria that buyers typically evaluate.