How to Build a Base of Influence for Product Marketing

The Product Marketing Conundrum

Product Marketing can play a major strategic role within any organization, and it can be an exciting and influential career. But product marketing has a classic problem… often few people in the company know what product marketing actually does! Is it part of the marketing team? Is it part of the product team? Is it something else? What do they deliver?

How do they get measured? In order to truly maximize our impact, we first need to educate and build a base of influence for product marketing across the various go-to-market (GTM) teams. In this article, I’ll share a few tips of how I did that at my company.

You can download the free editable presentation slides to help you introduce product marketing and build awareness in your own organization.

Product Marketing How to build a base of influence for Product Marketing - Product Marketing Hive
Product Marketing: How to Build a Base of Influence, Brian Martell

What the Heck is Product Marketing Anyway?

Great question, and an all too common one for product marketing professionals everywhere. It can be really hard to prove your impact if the rest of your organization doesn’t really know what you do. But before we answer that question, I find it’s helpful to ask an even more fundamental question. One that you think most people intuitively know the answer to, but few actually do. And that question is: What does Marketing do?

I have to admit that even I didn’t give marketing it’s due credit early in my career. I took marketing classes in college, I had friends in marketing, and I worked alongside marketing in a variety of GTM functions, but still I wrote marketing off as “they do advertising” or “they do the monthly newsletter” or “they do social media.” Don’t worry, now I know better. 

So how can we address these problems? Here are some ideas.

3 Tips to Build a Base of Influence for Product Marketing

  1. Find a forum to teach your company the marketing and product marketing fundamentals.

    Ask for a 15 minute spotlight at the next company All-hands meeting, or work with team leaders to schedule a Friday Lunch & Learn. It doesn’t matter so much what the forum is. The important thing is that you get yourself and your team in front of your internal customers, and explain to them how you’re going to make their world better. 

  2. Teach the basics – but keep it simple!  

    A former CEO and mentor of mine, Dave Kellogg, who is famous for his penchant for reductionist phrases (one of the many things that makes him such a great marketer), taught me the best definition of Marketing that I’ve heard so far: Marketing exists to make sales easier.

    We know that the marketing team does a million different things, but our beginner audience isn’t going to understand a word of it if we throw the kitchen sink at them. Better to keep it as simple as possible. Marketing fills the sales pipeline with high quality leads, which turn into qualified opportunities (opptys), which the sales team then works to close. That turns into revenue, which means the company grows and everybody gets paid. Yay. 

    Now, back to product marketing. We know that one of the things that makes product marketing so hard to define is that it can mean many different things to different people across different companies. Anita Raj posted a great article on this topic on PMM Hive. 

    I like to think of product marketing as the bridge between all of the GTM teams: Sales, Marketing, Product Management, and Customer Success. 

    Product Marketing typically owns product positioning & messaging, content creation, product launches, sales enablement, competitive analysis, and pricing. How you prioritize these items often depends on your company’s strategic objectives, lifecycle stage, and staffing capacity. 

    A broad mandate, to be sure. So what’s a product marketer to do? I like to make all of this real by explaining it in terms my audience will actually care about.

  3. Show what’s in it for them

    The best way I’ve learned to influence others in corporate America is to show them that your existence helps them do their job better. 

    Help a sales rep close a deal with a great product demo. Bring the product team market research to inspire a new feature that increases stickiness. Bring the demand gen team fresh messaging that attracts more high quality leads to the website. Make product marketing indispensable by proving your value in the context of your internal customer’s desired outcomes. Do this right, and you’ll have a friend for life. Not to mention, an ally who will return the favor when it comes time to build a base of support for your next big project or proposal.

Wrap Up

Product Marketing can play a major strategic role within any organization, and it can be a hugely rewarding and exciting career path. But in order to truly thrive as a product marketing team, you first need to get in front of your internal customers, teach them what Product Marketing is in simple terms, and then show how it helps them achieve their goals on an ongoing basis. I hope this helps, and good luck! 

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