Leverage Marketing’s Expertise

Product management and product marketing professionals shouldn’t tell marketing teams how to generate leads; they should focus on problems in product growth and let marketing design the appropriate campaigns.

Confusion about roles and responsibilities exists in most organizations. Who is responsible? Who must be consulted? Who is informed?

In addition to the confusion between product management and product marketing, we see confusion between product marketing and corporate marketing teams.

Here’s a crazy thought: What if product marketing focused on go-to-market problemsand corporate marketing focused on solutions? Just as product management works with development to solve problems with product solutions, product marketing works with marketing to deliver go-to-market solutions.

For example, consider RFPs. For some firms, responding to customer RFPs can be a real drain on resources. Yet, if you’ve ever replied to one, you know that most of the questions have been answered many times in other documents. Instead of answering each one with new responses, there must be a better way.

If you sit down with marketing to discuss the RFP problem, chances are they’ll have loads of suggestions about how to optimize the process, including:

  • Creating a database of standard answers, approved by product management
  • Hiring an RFP coordinator (preferably in sales operations) to manage the process
  • Developing a standard RFP template for the sales team to provide to customers

In this scenario, product marketing identifies a problem for the sales team and marketing designs a solution to the problem.

Consider technical and architectural queries. If you have a complex product, the sales team is likely to get questions about the technical decisions and directions. To move the sale forward, they will often call on a lead developer or product manager to explain these decisions to individual clients. And that’s okay once in a while. But what if it’s required for every sale?

If the product marketing manager brings this problem to marketing for consideration, marketing’s suggestions might include:

  • Writing a white paper on product infrastructure
  • Scheduling webinars about technical directions
  • Adding an embedded video to the CTO’s sales presentation that explains technical decisions and future directions

Again, product marketing identifies a problem for the sales team and marketing designs a solution.

Too often, product marketing designs a solution to a product growth or go-to-market problem. But shouldn’t they identify the problems and rely on the marketing experts to define the solutions since the marketing team has the expertise in communications?

Product marketing is the whoand what; marketing is the how. Just like development.

We’ve become an industry of feature-speakers. We tell development what features to build. We tell marketing what campaigns and programs to run.

Instead, product management and product marketing should leverage the expertise found in development and marketing to encourage innovative solutions in both product and promotion.

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson was a founding instructor at Pragmatic Institute, a role he held for more than 15 years before he left to start Under10 Playbook. In his return to Pragmatic Institute, Steve supports the complete learning path for product teams, ensuring they are fully armed for success. 

Over the course of his career, Steve has helped thousands of companies and tens of thousands of product professionals implement product management processes. He has worked in the high-tech arena since 1981, rising through the ranks from product manager to chief marketing officer. Steve has experience in technical, sales and marketing management positions at companies that specialize in both hardware and software. In addition, he is an author, speaker and advisor on product strategy and product management.

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