If you’ve been in tech long, you know about product marketers. But here’s the question:
What do product marketers actually do?
That’s the question we posed to Suda Srinivasan, VP of Marketing & CX at Obsidian Security.
Here’s what he said on the B2B Revenue Acceleration Podcast:
The 101 on product marketers in B2B tech companies
The product marketer owns the go-to-market plan — they’re akin to a project manager for a given project, only, the product manager’s scope is geared both externally and internally.
Specifically, a product marker is in charge of identifying and articulating who the target customer is. They must ascertain the roles, personas, and types of companies they are attempting to market a given product to. Their role will include determining what their target market’s needs are, which in turn becomes the positioning and messaging of the product.
A product marketer is responsible for ensuring their organization has a single agreed-upon view of the needs of the customer, and, further, that their organization understands the value prop to the customers.
Product marketers are strategists, they are evangelists, advisers to Sales & Marketing and Business Problem-solvers.
In plain English:
A product marketer figures out what customers want, works with the product team, and then tells customers how this product makes their lives better.
Some specifics on a product marketer’s role:
- Product marketers determine how they are going to reach target buyers, with packaging, pricing, promotions, etc.
- They identify which channels to use
- They must understand the competitive landscape
- They act as evangelists and public spokespeople
A product marketer is a quarterback
As a product marketer, communication is central to your role, and the implementation of a go-to-market strategy are ultimately within your ownership. However, it doesn’t mean you’re doing all or any particular piece of that work.
As Suda pointed out, a product marketer is a quarterback — they’re in charge of coordinating and communicating so everyone is on the same page. This might mean working with the executive team, working with sales, sales enablement, channel strategy, and so on.
Product marketers coordinate with the technical team
Product marketers are working with the CTO/CIO and the technical teams earlier in the process. From the immediate point of creating the shared customer view with the CTO, the product management team and product marketing all need to be on the same page.
Good product marketers see themselves as business owners & will do anything & everything to make the product a commercial success.
A good product marketer will be able to convey the answers to these questions to the executive and technical teams:
- What is the environment outside the company?
- What are the problems that customers are having?
- How is the company solving those problems?
Essentially, the product marketer starts early to bring the outside-in view and frame it in such a way that it is easily digestable for various functions and levels of their own organization.
Product marketing is a leveraged function
Suda re-emphasized that this position is “leveraged,” meaning, that while product marketers own the go-to-market plan, they don’t actually execute everything. If you go back to the project manager: project managers are responsible for coordinating the activities that lead to the objective — a finished project — but are they actually building it? No; they probably have engineers who perform the actual work.
In the same way, a product marketer’s role is executed in much the same way.
Product marketers are not simply content creators
A somewhat common pitfall occurs when organizations view product marketers simply as content creators. It’s easy to fall into this trap, because who is better setup to understand how to frame an internal product with an external world? Who would know better than a product marketer what to say, and what content to create?
But, if you look at product marketers as simply content creators, than you’re not using the function in a smart way, said Suda.
A product marketer should be a problem-solver
In a variety of ways, Suda said that product marketers are general problem-solvers throughout the organization:
Sales: what is causing delays in the sales process?
The product marketer should go through the sales process step by step and eliminate, consolidate, or simplify steps for the customer.
Customer success: what is causing limited success in terms of the customer discovering the solution?
A good product marketer should go through the customer delivery and experience in detail to understand in what ways the process can be improved, and why the customer isn’t experiencing the fullest levels of success.
The most successful product marketers:
- Spend plenty of time with real-life customers to understand their pain points
- Speak the same language, using the exact verbiage of their customers
- Have mental flexibility — they’re able to get really detailed and super tactical about issues, and then also zoom out and understand how the strategic landscape is shifting
To hear this interview, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The B2B Revenue Acceleration Podcast on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or on our website.