How to Break Into Product Marketing: 10 Expert Opinions (2024)

Six months ago, I heard about product marketing from a friend.

This was surprising because I had been doing content marketing and brand marketing for close to three years, and so the term product marketing seemed like a gateway to nowhere. After searching for the term online, I was shocked. Product marketing is a lot different from other forms of marketing that you know.

I’m excited that you’re transitioning to be a product marketing manager soon, and that’s why I created this guide to help you on this journey. In this guide, you’ll find the skills needed to break into product marketing, the difference between product marketing and product management, and one on one interviews with product marketing experts from various fields to help you get started.

What is Product Marketing?

Product marketing is the art of bringing a product to market.

It involves developing a go-to-market strategy and deciding the product’s messaging and positioning. This means deciding on the message, position, launch, and overall sales plan of the product for internal teams as well as for consumers.

According to April Dunford, product marketers are the people responsible for being able to deeply understand and therefore articulate what is different, better, and remarkable about your offering.”

Many marketers make the mistake of assuming that because their product is simple, customers will understand it. Or because the marketers themselves place so much emphasis on the product, they assume that the audience should desire it as much without considering if the product is needed in the marketplace.

They assume prospects will know the value of the product because it seems obvious. But without a clear message that reaches the right people, demonstrates the product’s value, and counters objections, even the best products will struggle.

Product Manager vs Product Marketing Manager

According to Drift, a product manager’s job is to define and build new products and features. It’s the product marketer’s job to commercialize those products—drive demand, revenue, and adoption for those things.

To put it another way, the product manager is responsible for understanding the problem that their customers are facing and then scoping and building a solution. The product marketer owns the strategy and narrative for go-to-market and defines the product’s position in the marketplace

A Product Marketing Manager, PMM is in charge of the product marketing of a particular brand.

Here is a list of what a Product Marketing Manager does:

  • They are the bridge between the product engineers and the end user. They are the voice of the customer.
  • They are responsible for crafting out the positioning and messaging that align with a brand’s target audience.
  • They are responsible for taking a product to market, also known as the go-to-market strategy. This involves naming, packaging and pricing, partner activation, positioning, enablement, top-of-the-funnel and middle-of-the-funnel content, campaigns, and offers
  • They empower the sales team with offers, value propositions, and other resources to increase their sales targets.
  • They define the pricing strategy to maximise revenue as well as the channels and partnerships to expand the product reach
  • Collaborating with product, sales, and engineering teams to optimize the product.
  • Planning events and webinars to generate buzz throughout the product lifestyle.
  • Crafting compelling content to both attract and educate potential buyers and
  • Monitoring product feedback and market information

Communication, storytelling, content asset development, project management, collaboration, negotiation, and understanding customers’ needs and behaviors are some of the skills used by a product marketing manager.

10 Experts give perspectives on the subject of Product Marketing

1. Lilia Tovbin, CEO and Founder of BigMailer

How did you get into Product marketing?

I stumbled into product marketing by merging my passion for technology and communication.

Initially, I started as a content creator but gradually realized the power of translating complex features into tangible benefits for users. This realization happened because of my innate ability to empathize with our target audience, which helped me shape our product messaging effectively and fix customer pain points.

What were some of your successes?

In a recent product launch, our team introduced an AI-powered analytics tool for email marketers.

I conducted in-depth interviews with email marketers and dissected their challenges to understand them better. The insights guided our product positioning and allowed us to develop case studies showcasing real-world improvements post-implementation. These elevated our product’s market presence and helped us establish a deeper connection with our users.

What advice would you recommend to newbies in product marketing?

Start by understanding the market and consumer behavior. Develop skills in digital marketing and content creation, and learn to use analytics tools to measure your impact.

2. Shawn Plummer, CEO of The Annuity Expert

How did you get into Product marketing?

Product marketing in the financial sector is about creating and promoting financial products that meet specific client needs, emphasizing their benefits in a clear, understandable way.

My path to product marketing began with my finance background, which naturally led me to specialize in product marketing, focusing on customer-centric solutions. To be good at product marketing, you need analytical thinking skills, empathy for client needs, and clear communication.

What were some of your successes?

We introduced a tailored annuity plan by identifying market needs, developing clear messaging, and using targeted channels for promotion.

What advice would you recommend to newbies in product marketing?

Understand your product deeply and the customers it serves. Knowledge of market research and digital marketing tools is also beneficial.

3. Peter Hoopis, President and Owner of Hoopis Pickleball

How did you get into Product marketing?

I got into product marketing because I loved sports and had a knack for identifying market trends.

My journey started in digital analytics, analyzing user behaviors, which naturally evolved into devising product strategies that align with consumer interests. My adaptability has allowed me to thrive in this field and seamlessly pivot between data-driven insights and creative storytelling.

What were some of your successes?

I remember one memorable project I worked on that involved launching pickleball backpacks.

We saw a gap in the market for gear designed specifically for pickleball players. The backpacks had dedicated spots for paddles, breathable sections for sweaty clothes, and a sleek design. We told a simple story about how these backpacks were must-haves for pickleball lovers.

We teamed up with popular players, threw events at tournaments, and shared pictures and videos on social media. The response was great, showing that a clear and relatable story can make a product not just useful but also something people genuinely want.

What advice would you recommend to newbies in product marketing?

Have a passion for your product, learn about digital trends, understand your target audience, and be creative in your approach.

4. Tolu Olubanke, Marketing Manager at Bloc

How did you get into Product marketing?

My product marketing journey began with social media management during my studies at University. I transitioned to content marketing shortly after, and finally landed at Bloc, where I discovered my passion for product marketing. This progression allowed me to leverage my storytelling skills to connect with audiences and champion innovative products.

What were some of your successes?

Leading successful product launches and GTM campaigns for FinTech products has been incredibly rewarding. My career growth is another source of pride. In product marketing, collaboration is key. Mastering stakeholder management and effectively advocating for your ideas are also crucial skills I’ve honed.

What advice would you recommend to newbies in product marketing?

For aspiring product marketers, I recommend finding a mentor – someone experienced and knowledgeable who can guide your career. Mentorship accelerates learning and problem-solving. Additionally, prioritize relevant work experience – volunteer, network, and seek opportunities that align with your goals.

Product marketing in our field is about positioning and promoting educational products to the right audience, emphasizing their value and benefits.

5. Zach Dannett, Founder and CEO of Tumble

How did you get into Product marketing?

I started in product marketing largely as a way to learn how I would best introduce and demonstrate the value of Tumble.

I’ve always believed that understanding your product’s unique value is the first step in crafting a compelling marketing angle for your product that would become the backbone of a successful product. For me, that meant living and breathing every aspect of Tumble’s offerings. I actively engaged with our target audience, sought feedback, and iterated our messaging based on real-world responses. It’s a continuous cycle of learning, adapting, and refining.

My passion for real estate and education naturally led me to product marketing. The essential skills for my growth are market analysis, strategic planning, and effective communication, which have been key to my success.

What were some of your successes?

There are three interconnected skills that I think are critical for our success: insightful customer analysis, innovative thinking, and focused data utilization.

For instance, at Tumble, we meticulously analyze customer feedback and market trends, using this data to drive creative marketing strategies that speak to our audience’s needs and preferences. We also make sure to combine creative ideas with solid, qualitative data for our marketing campaigns to make sure that they resonate and convert. 

What advice would you recommend to newbies in product marketing?

For newcomers to product marketing, the path forward involves fusing education and practical experience.

When we first introduced Tumble, we started by deeply diving into market research and consumer behavior studies to understand the daily challenges faced by families with children and pets. We then applied this understanding to small, focused projects—like targeted social media campaigns and community engagement events. These smaller campaigns allowed us to test our theories and provided invaluable hands-on experience for us.

6. James Smith, Founder of Travel-Lingual

How did you get into Product marketing?

It all started with my intense interest in innovation and technology. 

After finishing my marketing degree, I had the opportunity to join a technology startup, where I acquired significant experience working with the product team. This event sparked my interest in aligning product development with client requirements.

Passionate about exploring this convergence, I transitioned to product marketing and have not experienced any regrets.

The sector of product marketing is constantly changing and requires a diverse set of talents. Primarily, having great communication skills is essential. As a product marketer, your role is vital in bridging the complex technical features of the product with language that effectively appeals to buyers.

Possessing a robust analytical mentality is crucial for collecting and interpreting facts to make well-informed strategic decisions. 

Additionally, it is imperative to maintain adaptability and implement appropriate modifications to your tactics in light of shifting market trends and client feedback. In this highly competitive market, having a deep understanding of your target audience and the ability to genuinely comprehend their demands will ultimately set you apart.

What were some of your successes?

We sought to create a comprehensive travel helper that fulfills the needs of both leisure and business travelers.

I devised a comprehensive plan to guarantee the effective launch of this product. Initially, comprehensive market research was carried out to ascertain the target demographic, their areas of dissatisfaction, and current rivals. 

The crucial factor in establishing Travel Companion as a unique and unparalleled product in the industry was our ability to position it effectively.

Subsequently, I collaborated closely with the product team to acquire a comprehensive comprehension of the application’s functionalities and unique selling points. I developed compelling communication that resonated deeply with our target demographic by leveraging my expertise. 

The product descriptions of our software were meticulously designed to demonstrate its ability to address typical travel difficulties and improve the overall travel experience.

I designed an all-encompassing marketing strategy that extends across several platforms to guarantee optimal outreach. The plan involved using social media platforms, partnering with travel influencers, and deploying targeted web ads. 

In addition, we engaged in travel expos and orchestrated demonstrations to generate enthusiasm among prospective users.

Following the launch, I carefully analyzed user comments and data analytics to identify the required enhancement precisely. We delivered an exceptional user experience and developed client loyalty by continuously enhancing our services.

What advice would you recommend to newbies in product marketing?

Below is a comprehensive and systematic approach to assist individuals who aspire to become product marketers in initiating their careers:

  • Acquire Knowledge: Dedicate time to familiarize yourself with marketing principles, market research, and consumer behavior. Online classes, professional blogs, and networking events offer valuable resources.
  • Gain Experience: Seek internships, entry-level marketing, or volunteer positions. By engaging in this hands-on experience, you will acquire essential knowledge about the challenges encountered in the sector and cultivate a portfolio of noteworthy achievements.
  • Acquire expertise from seasoned professionals: Keep yourself informed by following industry experts, engaging in webinars, and joining product marketing communities. 
  • Engage with industry professionals to gain useful insights and stay updated on the latest advancements.
  • Improve your skills. Develop proficient communication, analytical, and strategic thinking capabilities. Acquire expertise in crafting compelling product narratives and learn how to explain complex information clearly and engagingly.
  • Maintain a sense of curiosity regarding new technology, industry developments, and client preferences to maintain a competitive edge. Cultivate a mentality of expansion and consistently seek opportunities to enhance your comprehension.
  • Develop a strong network. Build relationships with individuals with similar interests and expertise, engage in industry gatherings, and actively contribute to online groups. A resilient professional network can provide insight, important connections, and future employment opportunities.

It is important to note that the journey towards being a product marketer may involve challenges. However, you can establish a fulfilling career in an ever-changing field by demonstrating dedication, passion, and a proactive mindset. Persist in broadening your knowledge, uphold a state of curiosity, and consistently acknowledge the significance of your unique perspective.

7. James DeLapa, Director of Digital Marketing at Wrike

How did you get into Product marketing?

I’ve been interested in marketing for as long as I can remember.

Even as a kid, I remember the deep impact some ads had on me, and that passion never stopped. I love that we can use marketing to help connect with people through the stories we weave and leave their lives a little brighter.

Largely, my curiosity is what drives my success. I’m not just creating strategies I think will work, but looking at consumer behavior data or campaign feedback and always learning more. Holding onto that curiosity throughout your career keeps you pushing to improve and moving perpetually closer to delivering exactly what consumers want.

What were some of your successes?

At Wrike, we built a work management platform working with 20,000+ companies in over 140 different countries.

Beyond increasing search volume, I bring conversion rate optimization, analytics, web development, and sales experience to create holistic strategies that have led our marketing team to great success. 

What advice would you recommend to newbies in product marketing?

It’s easiest to start with an entry-level marketing role, which often doesn’t require a degree.

If you don’t have a marketing degree, start learning everything you can and creating mock ads, content, and more. Take some shorter certifications to get some educational experience behind your name, and even freelance to build a portfolio first that can land you a full-time gig later. My best advice is to keep learning and creating every single day so you can hone your craft.

8. Louis P. Lessor, Marketing Specialist at Davies

How did you get into product marketing?

I entered the product marketing space about three years ago, but I have eight years of marketing experience working in a variety of marketing settings. 

The skills that have contributed to my successes are: 

  • Continuing learning: always taking new courses that come out and renewing certifications.
  • Read industry news from Think with Google, Hubspot, Marketing Brew, and LinkedIn to see what the top players are doing.
  • Networking: This involves finding people to give me different views on a variety of marketing matters.
What were some of your successes?

I am currently working with two startups to take two different products to market. Below is a simple framework I am using to market both of these products. 

  • Getting clear on the company’s WHY. We are conducting market research both through in-person interviews and virtual surveys. 
  • Sending products to users for free to gather feedback and get reviews 
  • Creating a $100 Million Dollar Offer
  • Building a landing page that collects email addresses will allow us to build a look and re-engage with anyone who still needs to purchase our product. 
  • Use the Storybrand framework to position our customers as the heroes of their stories. 
What advice would you recommend to newbies in product marketing?

Take as many courses on marketing as you can from Google Ads, Hubspot, and SEMRush to understand the marketing ecosystem and how each works alongside the others.

Read books such as 100 Million Dollar Offer, Purple Cow, Storybrand, and many more; lifelong learning will help you continue to be at the top of your field. Network with people who push you to be better every day and offer different views on everything. 

Practice your craft on a personal project to develop your skills.

9. Anastasiia Kinichenko, Product Marketing Lead, SE Ranking

How did you get into product marketing?

I started as a T-shaped digital marketer; then, my focus switched to email marketing. I worked with funnels and, after a while, shifted towards the retention direction. My interest gradually pivoted to the tasks handled by product marketers, which is now my area of specialization.

In my opinion, this role requires a blend of creativity and analytical thinking. You start by dealing with numbers and tables and reading data, and then you leverage these insights to build communication, visuals, and user interaction channels. This is a field where you never stop experimenting: you formulate a hypothesis, run a test, make conclusions, and then start the cycle anew with a fresh hypothesis 🙂 This is what makes this job so incredibly interesting and far from boring.

What advice would you recommend to newbies in product marketing?

If you want to work in this role, I recommend starting with the marketing fundamentals. You need to understand how demand and supply work, learn the main metrics, and how they are calculated and used. If you’ve been in marketing for a while and have some background, you can evolve into a strong product marketer if you have a desire to learn and grow in this field.

10. Debbie Moran, Marketing Manager at RecurPost

How did you get into product marketing?

I got into product marketing at RecurPost because I really liked understanding our users and how our products could help them.

I started in a general marketing role and slowly moved into product marketing because I saw the connection between what we offer at RecurPost and what our users were looking for.

Being flexible has been super important.

Our products change, and so does what our users need. Good communication is also a big deal because it helps me tell everyone about the cool things RecurPost does. Looking at data smartly is a must, and caring a lot about what our users want keeps everything on the right track.

What were some of your successes?

Let’s talk about when we introduced the “Smart Scheduler” at RecurPost.

We knew users wanted an easier way to plan their posts, so we asked them what they needed. We made sure to explain how this new feature could save them time. We used social media, tutorials, and webinars to show everyone how it worked. After it launched, we kept listening to users and made the Smart Scheduler even better based on what they told us.

What advice would you recommend to newbies in product marketing?

When I was new at RecurPost, I started by really understanding our products and talking to users.

I joined projects that involved different teams, like the product team and customer support. Learning about marketing trends and taking some special training courses helped me get better. RecurPost encourages trying out new ideas, and that’s a great way for newbies to learn.

Starting from a newbie to becoming a marketing Manager meant being hands-on, curious, and always ready to learn and try new things.

Steps forward:

Learn the basics of marketing

While it’s not compulsory to have an MBA in marketing before you begin to pursue a career, it helps to know some basics in the marketing field before you start.

This included the world of social media marketing, content creation, digital marketing, and communication. These skills give you an understanding of what marketing is and how you can use it to accomplish your goals.

Network within the Product Marketing industry

This is critical for getting your first role as a product marketing manager. 

Connect with product marketers on Slack groups, LinkedIn channels, and other social platforms. This helps you gain ground in your style and knowledge of product marketing. Also, it helps you get familiar with all the terms associated with the industry. 

Some of the Product Marketing communities include: African Product Marketing Pioneers, Product Marketing Hive, and ConTech Africa

Learn about Product Marketing

While this is a no-brainer, it is critical to your success on the journey to product marketing. 

You need to understand and be able to articulate concepts like win/loss interviews, positioning, messaging, sales enablement, user personas, and much more. Product Marketing Hive is one of the great platforms where you can learn about the lingo of this industry. 

There are also courses you can take from CXL, Utiva, LinkedIn Learning, and many more to increase your knowledge gap within this new industry.

Work on a side project to get your hands dirty

This is critical to your success as a product marketing manager. 

Pick a brand because you love their products. It may be Apply, Toyota, Kellogg, Mary Kay, Samsung, or even McDonald’s. Study their user demography; this is the ideal customer that the company markets to. Create a customer for them based on their needs, targets, and aspirations that will align with their brand strategy. 

This will give you a perspective on how to create a user persona. 

After this, create a content calendar for a week that will speak to the user persona you’ve created. Create content for social media and a blog post too. Move onto advertising. Create an ad for this persona and some follow-up emails that will speak to them.

In essence, experiment with your learning so as to get the full scope of your product marketing career.

Conclusions

In summary, securing a role in product marketing requires a tailored resume showcasing core skills and relevant experiences.

Research the company thoroughly before interviews to avoid basic questions and demonstrate genuine interest. Instead, inquire about their customer feedback strategies and future objectives.

Adapt your communication style to match the company culture, showing sensitivity and flexibility.

Emphasize your openness to learning and ability to receive feedback positively, highlighting your passion, creativity, and quick learning skills. Authenticity is crucial; avoid pretending to have expertise when it doesn’t exist. Instead, convey your enthusiasm and willingness to contribute. By following these steps, you’ll increase your chances of success in the competitive field of product marketing.

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