(This article is cross-posted as a guest post at onproductmanagement.net)
As product marketing professionals, we are tasked by senior leadership with understanding the buyer persona and directing the creation of marketing materials that tout the benefits of our product to those specific personas, benefits that solve the buying problems of the market. We are tasked with understanding the voice of the customer. We are tasked with win/loss analysis, competitor analysis, branding and sales psychology. Strategic stuff. Big picture stuff. Important stuff that makes sales more efficient and ultimately brings revenue in the door.
So … why do we always get stuck in the weeds? When I meet with leaders, I’m not asked about the big picture stuff, I’m asked and tasked with work on minutia, irrelevant projects, tiny details and even non-marketing or non-customer related projects.
Could it be that strategy is difficult for the organization to see, touch and feel? While the tiny projects usually produce tangible results or solve someone else’s problems? It feels good to actually finish and deliver a project – to complete something even though this is really not primary to the product marketing role.
I try to get rewarded for achieving certain metrics – such as product revenues, that are largely beyond my control. Again big picture, intangible stuff. But have you ever tried measuring strategy? So instead, I am rewarded by the amount of sales teams’ issues I put out by producing a new piece of collateral or a PowerPoint. The task work is more highly recognized within the organization.
Part of the problem, in my opinion, is that product marketing has become a big black hole in the organization that all too many senior leaders do not understand. Thus, the dumping ground mentality begins. Our desire to contribute and our positive, get it done attitude forces us to raise the hand and volunteer for even the grungiest projects – because they have to get done by someone. As more and more companies eliminate admin and junior staff, organizations have become “flattened” leaving no one else to perform these smaller, less strategic projects. This leaves the product marketing manager filling in the holes. But, where should these types of projects really belong in the organization?
As product marketing professionals, we need to take control. Stand up for our own voice and value. If we take our strategy, our personas and the lessons learned from our competitive analysis and parade it around the organization – making sure senior leaders are included, over time, the perception of product marketing will change to become more positive and be viewed as more strategic thinking. We actually must spend some time internally marketing our findings, getting the organization to adopt our strategy.
Looking in from the outside, some results sharing, some back patting is good, but simply building awareness of what we do will help senior leaders to see the value we bring to the organization. While sales might have the most recent customer interactions, are they asking the right questions to bring strategy into the organization?