The Product Manager’s Guide to Supporting Marketing Programs

Your company’s marketing team is responsible for sharing your products—and their benefits—with other internal teams, potential customers and the market. When they do their job well, sales increase, profit grows and your company succeeds. So it’s crucial for project managers to support marketing programs. When you understand what it takes to support marketing programs and how project management teams and marketing teams can work synergistically, you can help your business become an industry leader. 

With a solid understanding of how to support marketing programs, you’ll recognize why this work is so crucial and where you’re likely to face barriers. Plus, you’ll see why fostering teamwork, transparency and communication is essential. Improve your knowledge of how to support marketing programs with this detailed guide.

What is marketing program support?

Marketing program support is the information, research, data and knowledge that product managers can provide to marketers. Too often, these teams don’t work together as well as they could. Product managers might struggle to share information in a timely manner, which in turn puts pressure on marketing teams to deliver materials without enough time to create quality work. With marketing program support, project managers and marketers work together to make internal and external marketing programs effective and successful. 

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Why is it important to support marketing programs?

It can be hard for project managers to prioritize marketing when so much of their time is spent on sales support. After all, closing a sale is urgent, and it may seem like marketing can wait, especially when it is viewed as a team that simply plans events, produces brochures and manages social media. Working with the marketing team can feel like an afterthought. But in reality, strong marketing teams give their businesses a significant competitive advantage, and good product managers recognize the value of supporting their marketing teams and programs.

Effective marketing programs promote your company, brand and products to an entire market, not to an individual sales prospect. When you commit to supporting marketing programs, you’re working to position your product as a solution for many users, not a single user.

Effective marketing programs promote your company, brand and products to an entire market

Product managers can support strategic marketing programs that are focused on driving demand for a specific product. Product managers understand their product, so they can work with marketers to develop programs that position the product to appeal to the right audience.

Working with marketers can also give product managers insight into the competition. Your marketing team likely knows the features and benefits competitors offer and how they are received in the market, and they can share this information with you.

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Who is responsible for providing internal and external marketing program support?

The product management team holds responsibility for supporting marketing programs, working closely with the marketing team. That’s because product managers have insights into customers’ needs.

When a company is developing or enhancing a product, the product management team talks to potential customers and digs into data to learn what features customers want. Product managers can use this information to help marketers improve their messaging, find potential customers, and increase retention and engagement.

How to provide effective support for marketing programs

When product managers work well with marketers, they gain insight into prospective customers’ problems and needs. When these teams have a strong partnership, it benefits the business.

The first step to supporting marketing programs is to understand what your marketing team does and why. Meet with them and dig into how they build awareness and manage the funnel. Learn what leads they are passing along to the sales team and why those leads make the cut. Examine how their efforts link to your company’s vision.

Once you have a solid understanding of your company’s marketing efforts, you can support the team in a few different ways:

  • Share the product roadmap as early as you can. That way, the marketing team has a solid understanding of the product and its features. This knowledge can be beneficial when the marketing team has to develop their program, which usually falls late in the product development process.
  • Help marketers understand the technical specifications of the product. People on the product side get comfortable with shorthand phrases and acronyms. You can help marketers dive into what these words and phrases mean so they can translate them into user-friendly terminology.
  • Work with marketers to create buyer and user personas. Targeting marketing programs to these personas can best connect your company’s solutions with those who need them.
  • Add your voice to marketing efforts. Offer to participate in podcasts, webinars, “ask me anything” sessions or other content opportunities where people may appreciate hearing directly from product management.
  • Share feedback from your customers and your observations about them. These tidbits can help keep the customers’ needs top of mind for marketers. You can also share your customers’ top questions. Answering these questions could make for great blog content.
  • Make sure the marketing team—and the rest of the company—understands product and feature information. Consider writing content for newsletters or blog posts so you can share your product knowledge with the rest of the organization.
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What information is needed for marketing programs?

Marketing teams can create and implement better programs when they have the information they need. Here are a few areas where product managers can help:

  • Share buyer and user personas. These stand-ins for your potential customers can give marketers critical information about their target audiences. Knowing how potential customers are segmented gives marketers crucial details about how to communicate with them.
  • Understand and communicate where your product is positioned in the market. Marketing programs are more effective when they are centered around who the product is for and what challenges they resolve.
  • Let marketers know what your customers’ needs are. When these needs are clearly communicated, marketing programs can demonstrate how your product solves a problem.
  • Check in regularly. Work with marketers to ensure they have the information they need to support your internal and external product launches.
  • Communicate with marketers about customer retention, and ask them about acquisition. Often, acquisition falls to marketing, and retention falls to product management. But seeing the strengths and weaknesses of each side can be valuable in building strong marketing programs.
  • Ask your marketing team to share their social media plan. Social media allows your company to engage with current and potential customers and the market in a human way. When you understand how your marketers use social media, you may discover ways to support them.

Common causes of conflict between product managers and marketing

Common problems stem from teams reporting to different VPs so that they might be working toward different short- and medium-term goals

Product management teams and marketing teams have the same overarching goal—they want to help their products and services sell and their company thrive. But day to day, these teams can find themselves in conflict.

To start, these two teams may report to different VPs so that they might be working toward different short- and medium-term goals. And they probably look at different metrics. Product managers are tuned into user feedback and product reviews, while marketers measure lead generation and brand awareness. Plus, compared with other parts of the company, such as development and sales, marketing doesn’t always have concrete, measurable goals tied to its success.

Sometimes, it’s unclear which responsibilities fall to these two teams, so there can be overlaps or gaps. And the teams might not communicate well or work closely together.

You can help overcome these sources of conflict by including marketing team members in product planning, ensuring roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, prioritizing transparency and agreeing on some shared measures of success.

Learn more about supporting marketing programs

When product managers understand how to support marketing programs, it becomes easier to align the goals and work to support the company’s overall growth and success. Learn how to successfully integrate product management with marketing and recognize the roadblocks you’re likely to face. Register for Pragmatic Institute’s Launch course today.

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