I think there could be a number of career paths for PMM. In our team, we see everything from Sales (i.e, former AE), to Product Manager, to content marketer to solutions consultant. I think each of these has their ‘edge’ - for example, coming from sales you have a really unique perspective having had to actually sell and deliver messaging on the front lines. An SC has a more technical perspective and they’re a great fit for a technical PMM role. I personally came from a combination of management consulting and operations and, as a result, I’ve been able to carve out a niche for myself more as a mini product GM or broader go-to-market strategist than a PMM. Regardless, the core skillset for PMM in my mind is someone who can tell a story well (in a clear, concise way) and is obsessively curious about the buyer and what makes them tick.
The way I think about the ‘pillars’ of B2B tech marketing a CMO needs to be familiar with are as follows:
In general, if you’re early in your career and trying to learn the nuts and bolts of marketing, I’d go for a startup only if you can work for someone who has more experience / has done it before. I’ve seen a lot of early career folks go to startups where the people above them are just as clueless about best-in-class marketing as they are. That’s not going to be a valuable experience for you.However, if you can find a small company where you’re working under someone who has a lot of experience, it can be a really fulfilling experience and you’ll learn a ton. You’ll likely get way more scope, way more at-bats to do interesting things, etc. The flip side, going to a place like Facebook or Google, is that you’ll get very little scope, very little opportunity for upward career trajectory, few opportunities to manage, etc. But those places have really smart, experienced folks who you can learn from over time. That’s the tradeoff.
Nothing (literally nothing) is more valuable than sitting in on as many prospect / customer calls as possible. It’s the only way you’ll truly understand your buyer and what makes them tick. The rest flows from that.
Other than that, make sure you can get at least one launch under your belt as quickly as possible.
The first thing you have to ask is - is there room for a director or team lead at my company in product marketing? My CEO once said there are basically two ways you can start managing a team:
It’s worth noting that on (1) you need to be able to make a good case for why you should get some of that headcount. Heads are the most fought for things at a company. In order to do that, you need to demonstrate that you’ve taken on a ton of scope / responsibility (that is valuable to the business) and you need people to help you run / scale it. So you should ALWAYS be looking for more scope to take on - ask for it constantly and own own own as much as you can. And make sure they’re functionally valuable things like analyst relations, competitive, enablement, etc etc. And then you’ll have to make a case to your manager. For (2) - you can’t control when that happens, or even less what comes of it. So I wouldn’t count on this as a strategy. If your company isn’t growing rapidly (in terms of headcount), there just might not be an opportunity for you, no matter how good or ready you are. You should be able to suss that out pretty quickly. If that’s the case and being a team lead is something you want to do - leave. Don’t waste another minute hoping for it in your current org. Seriously.
I love this question. I’ll step away from PMM for a minute and say - regardless of what function you’re in at a company, you should be championing yourself and your team constantly. People who ‘get ahead’ in business not only create value, they make sure others know that they create value. What makes PMM hard is that you don’t own a number -- there’s no clear attribution. You can’t say “at the end of Q2 we grew revenue by X% YoY” in the way a sales or DG team can. So you need to constantly be talking about what you are delivering and how you are partnering with teams who do own numbers. What are the channels for communication in your business? At Gainsight, Slack is a major channel. I post often to our Sales channel about projects we’re working on, things we’ve delivered, and I give kudos to others. I do so in a very clear and consistent way. Another idea is asking for your team to be a part of regular weekly business reviews with the Exec team (or asking to be featured one week) if they exist. There’s always some kind of exec alignment session that happens every week or month - find it at figure out who owns it and how to get on it. Also - this is part of your manager’s job (to both trumpet your work and figure out the right forums to do so) so ask them directly how you can get more visibility for you or your team’s work.
Taking my PMM hat off again and putting on a general career development one. I’ve typically approached promotion conversations by first asking, several quarters before I hope to be promoted: “What do I need to demonstrate in order to move to the next level?”It’s a really important question because it gives your manager some work that they frankly should be doing anyway - laying out a career path for you along with the (clear) markers you need to hit them. Then I’d probably say something to the effect of: “I’d love to set a goal of a promotion by x cycle. Can we work together to help me get there?” People love to help, and good managers want to develop people. Finally, I keep a thoughtful, structured account of my major accomplishments - including things like relationships I’ve built with others. Better yet if you can map that clearly to the “focus areas” your manager laid out. This is your case; whether you want to share that with your manager in what forum is up to you. I’ve seen folks keep a running doc that they talk about with their manager briefly ever other 1:1 for a few minutes. Btw - don’t sell yourself short with this thing about “the products/industries are so different.” You have experience and surely there are things from your past experience that you leverage in your current one, maybe they are even unique things that only you bring to the table. Look at it from the positive angle and bring that to the table as a strength, not as a detractor for your case.
I’ve never heard of this particular certification. That doesn’t say much - I’m not your typical PMM. But in general I’d say experience, work samples, business case interviews, and references matter more to me than any outside certifications. To my knowledge we don't really look at that much.
You might considering pitching yourself for a technical PMM role - or a technical associate PMM. My guess is you have a lot of experience with the more technical aspects of the product (and you’re certainly not afraid of it!) and, depending on the company, there is often a need for a technical product marketer on the team to build out materials on things like platform architecture, integrations, security, etc. In general my advice is - find your angle in what you have already. You have an interesting one.
In my view, the whole point of messaging guides is that they are shared as widely and as openly in your organization as possible. We actually keep a "launch tracker" document (google sheets file) that has the latest on every launch we're planning. This document is publicly available and very widely distributed. We link to the positioning guide for the new product or set of features there. In addition, we've built really strong relationships with counterparts in Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success, so we are regularly communicating across a wide number of forums (team trainings, slack channels, in person meetings with leadership, etc) and share or point to key documents like messaging guides in these meetings. Unfortunately, in my experience, there is no 'silver bullet' to communicating to large audiences - having lots of channels and repetition is really key.
I think the other thing to keep in mind is having your messaging guide be a format that is really easily digestible. We use a format that actually summarizes the goal of the campaign or launch really nicely upfront, then gets into the messaging, and towards the bottom goes into more of the nitty gritty research on the market, trends, competition, etc. We've gotten good feedback that the format is pretty easy to consume, and I think that goes a long way in getting the message out there.