Product Marketing

In my recent searches I have come across product marketing roles that I wanted to dissect.   In some instances lines are easily blurred between marketing and product marketing due to the nature of the business. This can absolutely work but I want to look at the bigger picture of what each process entails, based on what I’ve seen in my past, and why they can co-mingle.

In some instances product marketing can be described as the final stages of a product development process.  It can also be the initial stages in terms of doing market research, but it all really depends on the organization and how it is broken up.  Product development on the other hand typically seems to do all the hands on “stuff” we’ll call it, as shown above, that get the idea/product to the product marketing stages where it is time to get the product launch going. But again the lines can get blurred and  there certainly are instances where the product marketing person or department does all of the above.

I have been lucky to have been a part of and seen a variety of these kinds of scenarios.  In one scenario the product development and marketing areas were very divided, in another the two truly worked together, and in yet another there was no collaboration at all.

In scenario number one I was a product marketer that was involved in an led projects for accounts big and small.  In this role I was responsible for identifying a clients need, or taking direction from a sales manager on that clients need, working with numerous internal departments to create a product that would both satisfy the need as well as meet our margin requirements.  Upon that projects completion I would hand off all of my knowledge on the product to the design team that would then work on collateral, POP materials, and advertising.

In scenario number two a new product development/phase gate process was introduced into the organization.  I asked to be a part of this new process and was brought in to the product launch stages of each new product introduction. Leading up to that phase, I would identify the appropriate marketing strategy for each new product or product update and work with my marketing team, or outside agencies, to create all of the materials needed for a successful product launch. This meant understanding why the product was being created, who it was being created for, how it needed to be sold, and where. This was a very involved process but it allowed all involved parties to know what was going on and when and how the deadlines may be affected, if at all, due to sourcing or manufacturing constraints.

In the last scenario, and probably most unfortunate,  there was no collaboration at all. A group of key people would identify the next product to be created, would then create it, and marketing would be brought in on that information two weeks prior to a launch.  The goal in this scenario was simply to be first to market rather than have all ducks in a row.

As you can see, there can be various iterations to how these different roles can be seen in an organization.  Personally, I love collaboration, I love figuring things out, I love a good strategy.  Every organization is unique and every process is different.  I am just lucky enough to have been a part of many different scenarios and understand that there is no cookie cutter way to figuring out how a product marketing role will work in your organization.


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