How to Establish an Effective Product Marketing Function

Jan 14, 2022 4 min read
How to Establish an Effective Product Marketing Function

Devon O'Rourke teaches us why a lot of product marketing teams aren't living up to their full potential, and how you can avoid the costly mistakes.

Today's interview is with Devon O'Rourke, founder of Fluvio, the product marketing consultancy.

We discuss the fundamentals of a successful product marketing team. So that you can understand if product marketing is the sauce you're missing to improve both your product and marketing metrics.

This was a fascinating chat, full of stories from Amazon and Etsy. So make sure you come back for the full podcast when you get a moment.

Until then, here is a summary of the insight.

What is product marketing?

Devon O'Rourke defines product marketing as the voice of the customer. The team drafts the narrative for the product so that customers understand the value of that product.

The product marketing team must understand the customers deeply. Which, in turn, gives them the power to work closely with the product team to align their roadmap with the customer's desires.

It's different in every company. Sometimes PM falls under marketing, sometimes under operations, and often under product.

But, wherever the function lies, the product marketers know the customer best.

Typical tasks: messaging, product landing pages, persona development, sales enablement material development, product strategy.

Fundamentals of establishing a product marketing team

Where should product marketing sit in an organisation?

Devon says he always establishes the product marketing function in the product team.

The product team is usually the best fit because product marketers need to work side-by-side with product managers, so they can intricately understand the product, and build a narrative around the product before launch.

Organisations often slip because they consider product marketing as part of marketing. And, so they think the team should only be involved in post-product development.

This is a mistake because product marketing needs to be well upstream of launch. Ideally, helping with persona development so that the customer is integrated into product development.

At what growth stage do I need to establish a product marketing function?

You will first create products, which needs developers and a product manager. But, quickly afterwards you need to hire a product marketer.

Product managers have a lot on their plate (from strategy to testing). So product marketing can help significantly to help the product manager to prioritise the roadmap.

The product marketer also takes ownership over the product launch:

- How will we tell this story?

- How will we launch this product into the market?

- What channels should we focus on?

- How will we measure success?

- How will we hold ourselves accountable?

All of which gives the product manager more bandwidth.

How do I measure my success as a product marketer?

Devon O'Rourke believes that product marketers goals should align with the product team's goals. For example, product adoption, NPS and usage.

If accountability is equal, then the team's tend to work well together. Collaboration collapses if the product marketing team only has goals around traffic and win-rates.

It's hard to measure the success of product marketing. PMMs should take on marketing metrics, too, but only secondarily.

The secondary marketing metrics include product page traffic, win-loss ratio, and close rates.

The right messaging, the right product and the right sales enablement materials will naturally lead to a better close rate. So align product marketing with the close rate.

How do I establish trust between product and product marketing?

The most obvious way is to have the teams sitting near each other. Make sure the teams communicate, know each other, and meet regularly.

Product marketers should be getting and giving continuous updates to the product team.

Product marketers have a comprehensive view of the company because they work across the teams. PMM's should be showing off their knowledge and passing down insights across the product team. Being that centralised resource will help you establish trust.

For example, Devon wrote a weekly recap on all the initiatives he was working on and shared those to the product managers. That transparency allowed product managers to provide feedback, building a collaborative mindset.

What's the role of leadership in ensuring product marketings success?

It is everything. CMOs and CEOs need to buy in and allow access to the product marketers.

If they champion the function widely, it will flourish. If leadership don't, it will flounder. Executives, listen up.

Common mistakes when establishing product marketing

- Not establishing the PMMs in the product team, so they can't have an early influence over the product.
- Bringing in the PMM too late, so they don't have time to launch the product effectively.
- Executives that are failing to understand the power of product marketing. It is not a quick handoff team.

- CEOs are told they need to hire a PMM by investors but don't really have the experience to know what that function means.

For those who can't afford to hire a product marketer, how can we create a better go-to-market strategy?

Creating a solid go-to-market strategy is all about establishing a clear target audience.

Don't be afraid to define who your customer is not. Success comes from being focused.

A real go-to-market plan will start well ahead of product development and will help the product be hyper-focused on the target customer.

From there, the product marketer needs to build core case studies behind what the product can do to help your audience overcome the barriers they have in their day-to-day job.

The PMM can also be influential in recommending marketing channels. But, Devon says the marketing team should take ownership over the channels ultimately.

Are you intrigued to learn more about product marketing from marketing leaders? Dive into product positioning in our interview with April Dunford.


Sign in or become a How the F*ck member to join the conversation.
Just enter your email below to get a log in link.

Great! Next, complete checkout for full access to How the F*ck.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
You've successfully subscribed to How the F*ck.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.
Success! Your billing info has been updated.
Your billing was not updated.