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2020 Predictions for Product Marketing and Competitive Intelligence

January 2, 2020 by Vincent Lo

image comparing 2009 vs 2019 memory card storage amounts

Out of all the 2009 vs 2019 memes floating around these past few weeks, one stopped me in my tracks. It really made me think about how far technology has come in the past decade. And how far we might go in the next. Sure, it might be fun to make predictions about Jetsonsesque flying cars and dedicated drone delivery ‘air-lanes’ by 2030. But, I‘d probably end up putting together a wild-sci-fi-ideas dartboard instead. So let’s talk about predictions on how we might start this brand new decade. 

2020 Predictions for Product Marketing and Competitive Intelligence

  1. Product marketing roles will specialize into strategy and execution roles
  2. CI will shift from project-based to measurement-led programs
  3. Marketing of AI technologies (finally) gets real

The Specialization of Product Marketing Roles 

“Product marketing sits at the intersection of product, sales, and marketing.”Drift

Product Marketing (PMM) is still a fast-evolving discipline and, for a lot of businesses or business units, it is largely a one-person show. Despite a broad set of responsibilities — go-to-market strategy (and GTM evading a clear definition across organizations), sales enablement, voice-of-the-customer, product launches, and collateral building, the reality is PMMs often fly solo. This necessitates focusing exclusively on day-to-day execution.

But Product Marketing is growing up. Similar to the shift seen over the last decade in Product Management, where roles became more specialized and focused on different timeframes, Product Marketing teams deploying similar models will become more commonplace.

This, of course, necessitates organizations to see how much value PMM truly plays in the company and subsequently investing more resources to build up teams. We’ve already seen signs of this beginning last year, I predict we will see this specialization increase rapidly in 2020.

This is just the beginning of the evolution of product marketing. Those organizations that get it will see the reflection in top-line growth. Companies who lead the way in empowering PMM will be at an advantage as their company as a whole will be better aligned across the board and focused on growth. 

Measurement-Focused Competitive Intelligence 

Competitive intelligence (CI) will move from being project-based initiatives to measurement-based programs.

CI initiatives, especially when it’s owned by product marketing, usually takes a backseat to “more time-sensitive” responsibilities like launches or sales collaterals (see above). So even with the best of intentions, CI ends up becoming time-boxed projects to find out about competitor X. It is then managed and tracked as a project: defined start and end dates, a series of milestones, and a set of deliverables to be thrown over the fence.

I’ve lived it, breathed it, been frustrated by it, and selfishly had been pushing fellow product marketers away from this narrow scope of thinking.

Blog: CI Metrics — A Dashboard to Track KPIs

Times are changing though. With the warp speed of technology enabling constant change in a competitive landscape, CI is increasingly being seen as critical for the success of an organization. As such, CI is quickly being measured by business outcomes such as win rate, revenue influenced, customer retention or churn.

In most of my customer conversations since I joined Klue, I can sense the momentum building; I think in 2020 we will see this measurement-based CI thinking really take flight.

Marketing of AI Technologies (Finally) Gets Real

Marketing AI technology will move away from buzzword-status and get more specific. What does this mean? Think back about seven or eight years ago when the term “Big Data” was everywhere. But no one really knew what it meant. It was so vague and covered so much that it meant very little to most people. It was a buzzword du jour and, boy did it get its time in the sun. 

Now, you hardly ever hear it used. “Big data” has been replaced by what it actually means in a given situation. Gartner dropped the term from its hype cycle in 2015 because the practice had become so mainstream that it no longer qualified as an “emerging technology.” 

I think the same thing will happen when it comes to marketing AI-powered technologies in 2020.

(Okay, maybe this one is as much my secret hope as it is a desperately needed change in the marketplace!)

Okay, one prediction for 2030

If you hold a gun to my head and make me predict what will happen by 2030, I’ll say this: anyone whose sole responsibility is on analysis and insight generation will be out of a job by 2030. Maybe I’ll save that sobering thought for a future post.

So what do you think will happen in 2020?

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