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Product Marketing Summit Trends and Takeaways

December 16, 2019 by Heidi King

I recently returned from attending my first Product Marketing Summit. It was in London, the U.K. (not Ontario, for my fellow Canadians) — one of my favourite cities in the world. So, I went it in wanting to be impressed by the event and I’m pleased to report that it didn’t disappoint. 

The London event was the last of a series of Product Marketing Summits that began earlier this year. As the inaugural year for this series, the Product Marketing Alliance group put on a polished and well-rounded event. It provided a much-needed space for product marketers, sales enablement professionals and product managers to meet, learn from each other and share ideas. 

There were many conversations, but a few trends emerged over the jam-packed two-day event: 

  • The relationship between Product Marketing (PMM), Product Management (PM), and Sales Enablement
  • The importance of data in proving value 
  • How to scale initiatives with global teams

PMM Summit London 2019

Relationship between PMM, PM, and Sales

Three tracks were happening simultaneously: Product Marketing, Sales Enablement, and Product Management. While the sessions in each track catered to one of each of these audiences, there was certainly overlap in many topics. It was clear that fostering a strong relationship between these three groups is of primary importance to the success of any. 

I got a clear picture that Product Marketing is the Swiss Army Knife of an organization. The job description is wide and varied and often not fully understood by other departments. Their skills and expertise are in demand, but — more often than not, they are being pulled in many directions and stretched very thin. 

PMM in the middle

Product Marketing sits in the middle of a Venn diagram of Sales, Marketing and Product. They are the translators; the ones who make sense of the technical stuff for sales and marketing. 

Product Marketing Venn Diagram

Product Marketers also ensure that the needs and requests of the customers and prospects in their market are conveyed to the product team. And they provide the tools and intelligence to the sales enablement and sales teams to go into a deal armed and ready to win. They are the center point for what can sometimes be very siloed departments. 

As such, the success of Product Marketing depends very much on the other teams they work with. Therefore, the relationships they build and foster impact the entire organization. Allie Bollman, Senior Customer Marketing Manager at Doctor.com stated on Productmarketingalliance.com, “The successful relationship between Product Management and Product Marketing can make or break a product.” 

You are not alone

It was gratifying to hear not only from the Product Marketing track on this subject. Speakers from the Sales Enablement Track and Product-Led Track also championed a cohesive working relationship between these business units. 

Caroline Hynes, Director of Product at Zendesk led a fantastic presentation called, “Two Peas In a Pod — What We’ve Learned about a Successful Partnership Between Product Marketing and Product Management.” From a product management perspective, this presentation discussed the “unwritten love story” between PMM and Product teams. And showed us how to get to a place where the magic happens. 

Product-led Session Caroline Hynes

She outlined some of the reasons for the challenges between PM & PMM and suggested ways to overcome them. The “we win together” message came across loud and clear. And it seemed to be welcomed by all. 

Data rules

Another topic thread that appeared well, everywhere, was the importance of data. 

Richard Doherty, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Workday, presented Clarifying Your Role as an Outbound Product Marketer. His sage advice is to focus on where you add value as a product marketer. Keeping Product Marketing closely aligned to revenue not only proves your value but leads to a seat at the decision-makers’ table. Which aligns with salary increases. 

According to the Product Marketing Salary Report (just released by the Product Marketing Alliance), on average, product marketers with strong leadership support earn $12,762 more a year than those without. 

The best way to prove value and gain the support of executive leadership is through metrics: have data that show how product marketing investments lead to an increase in the bottom line. 

Start with one area, such as competitive intelligence, and talk to your Sales team to understand engagement with CI materials (Battlecards, etc.) in relation to:

  • Sales cycle length 
  • Win rates against competitors 
  • Average deal size
  • Discounts by competitor 
  • Total revenue influenced

Read: 10 Metrics to Measure Your Competitive Intelligence Program

10 Metrics to Measure Your Competitive Intelligence Program. Competitive Intelligence Expert Series.

Scaling content for global teams

Scaling content for global teams was a recurring theme. The issue for in-region product marketing teams when they are a small subset of a larger marketing team with an HQ elsewhere is how to make the most of the resources you have. Then make them applicable to the market you are in. 

In Europe, where there are many languages in close geographical proximity, scaling is of utmost importance. If HQ is in New York the content may not make sense to use as is in EMEA. But it also doesn’t make sense to create new content for each market. So the answer is to take HQ content and make it relevant for each market. How to do that with in-region resources and not break the budget? 

Two Product Marketing team members from Salesforce.com, Nalina Athyantha, and Tom Smith advised the following steps for in-region Product Marketing teams: 

  1. Get the international PMM job description right first 
  2. Prioritization is everything 
  3. Work smarter not harder
  4. Solutions and buyers first, product second
  5. Be an advocate for your market and customers

The theme of the importance of data crept in here too. Knowing what type of content your unique audience requires will help you determine which to focus on. A team of one or two cannot produce the same quantity of content that a massive team in HQ can. But sometimes that is forgotten so being your own team and market’s advocate is crucial and having the data to back it up is key.

Know thyself…and thy market

A panel discussion led by Etsy’s Senior Product Marketing Manager, Annette Verstoffel tackled this subject from three different perspectives. Rounding out the panel was Michael Richter, Director of Product Marketing at Oracle and Lotte Spencer, Global Director of Consumer Product Marketing at Spotify. She provided a great example.

Image of PMM Summit Panel Spotify, Etsy, Oracle

Spotify in North America is popular for allowing users to create playlists to suit their individual music tastes. However, she found in Europe that people favored knowing which musical selections were most popular with other people in their region and having those playlists on repeat. With that realization, much of the content around individualized playlists from HQ had to be shifted for the regions where it did not apply. They would not have known that without analyzing the data and being aware of different needs in their market. Then advocating for a shoft in tactics.

Looking ahead to PMM trends in 2020

Having a big event in December is a fantastic wrap to the year as well as provides a lens into the coming year and what trends to expect. The Product Marketing Summit in London did just that. The three trends covered in this post are just a taste of the insatiable appetite Product Marketing, Product Management, and Sales enablement professionals have for growing our organizations and pushing the boundaries. Keeping a sharp eye on the trends is vital to staying ahead in the game. Our VP of Product Marketing, Vincent  

Need to learn more about how battlecards should be part of every product marketers’ strategy? Download the Ebook: Product Marketer’s Guide – Creating Battlecards that Win

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