8 minute read · Published June 29, 2024

A product marketing career means you'll never witness a dull day

Latest Update July 10, 2024

There is no dull day in the life of a product marketer. Wearing many hats (sometimes too many!) places product marketers in a unique position – they are the voice of the customer within an organization, they help with the strategic positioning of the product in the market, and they ensure that the right messages reach the right audiences at the right time. 

Stephanie Pye, Lead Product Marketer at Momentive defines product marketing as, “Product marketing takes products to market, working with the teams who build the products to ensure the voice of the customer is in the room during roadmap discussions, and then creating the right messaging and positioning for the products the teams are building. We then work with marketing to create the right content to tactically take those products to market, and collaborate with sales to make sure they’re confident and successful in selling those products.”

For anyone looking for a career path that blends together strategy with creativity and has massive potential for impact, product marketing emerges as a great option. 

Three reasons to choose a product marketing career

Product marketing function shown at the intersection of other functions
  • Well-defined career progression and growth: The product marketing career ladder has some very interesting rungs. With experience and expertise, you can progress from entry-level roles to leadership positions (yes!), overseeing complex product launches, strategizing on GTM (go-to-market) motions, and shaping the overall product strategy.
  • Tangible impact: Your work directly influences the success of a product. You'll have the satisfaction of seeing your efforts translate into market adoption and revenue growth, as well as get a chance to work strategically with multiple stakeholders from product management, sales, marketing, customer experience, and strategy.
  • Competitive earning potential: Product marketing is a highly sought-after position, especially in B2B companies. If you have the right exposure, you can command a competitive salary and compensation package.

Demystifying the journey – entry-level roles and responsibilities

Landing your first product marketing role is nothing short of exciting. You can expect lots of moving parts and hopefully, get exposure and hands-on experience in several areas. Let’s take a look at two of the most common entry points for aspiring professionals – 

  • Product marketing specialist: As a product marketing specialist, you can expect to focus on specific product marketing functions like creating marketing collaterals that help sales teams pitch to their clients better or managing social media and email campaigns to generate and nurture leads. You may also find yourself playing a pivotal role in supporting new product launches. 
  • Associate product marketing manager (APMM): As a new APMM, you will basically be the right-hand person to a senior product marketing manager. You'll be knee-deep in launching new products, helping out with research on the market and competitors, and crafting messaging for new products or features that are on the product roadmap. It's a hands-on way to learn the ropes of product marketing from the ground up. 

Day-to-day tasks and responsibilities:

  • Content creation: Craft compelling content like product descriptions, blog posts, and case studies that educate and excite potential as well as existing customers.
  • Competitive intel: Research the market landscape, analyze what your competitors are offering, and identify what makes your product stand out.
  • Launch prep: Play a crucial role in launching new products by developing launch strategies, creating marketing materials, and being a product whiz that trains the sales team.
  • Market research: Conduct market research to identify target audiences, understand customer needs, and inform how the product is positioned in the market.
  • Data analysis: Analyze marketing campaign data to measure success, identify areas for improvement, and optimize future initiatives.

Climbing the ladder – product marketing career progression steps

As you gain a greater understanding of the product marketing domain, you get to tackle complex projects and can eventually move into a leadership role. 

Your time as an associate PMM or product marketing specialist is like a boot camp for product marketing. As you gain experience and create an impact in your organization, you can level up to a senior product marketing manager (SPMM) position. Here's what you can expect in this role – 

  • Lead product launches: You'll lead the charge for new product launches, spearhead the go-to-market strategy, and find yourself responsible for market research and competitor intel all the way to crafting killer launch campaigns and supporting the sales team.
  • Develop product positioning: You'll play a key role in defining your product's value proposition and communicating that to your target audience, making sure it stands out from the crowd. A whopping 90.1% of PMMs consider product positioning and messaging as their core responsibility.
  • Manage marketing budgets: You may be entrusted with marketing budgets. This means making smart decisions on where to spend your money and getting the best bang for your buck.
  • Mentor junior team members: As a senior PMM, you'll have the opportunity to mentor and guide junior team members, helping them hone their product marketing skills. 

With continued success, you may want to step into the "boss shoes". Here are some exciting roles you can consider – 

  • Product marketing director: Think of yourself as the head coach, leading a team of product marketers. You'll provide strategic direction, oversee the big-picture product marketing strategy for a whole bunch of products, and keep everyone on the right (aka winning) track.
  • Head of product marketing: This is the big "kahuna" of product marketing. You'll manage entire teams, set priorities, and make sure product marketing aligns with the company's broader goals.
  • Executive-level roles: This is the top of the marketing food chain. Two executive positions are waiting for you here – VP of product marketing and CMO. As a VP of PMM, you'll be the strategic mastermind behind the entire product marketing organization. You'll develop innovative marketing strategies to drive product adoption, oversee massive product launches, and basically become the product marketing guru everyone looks up to, not just in your organization but also in the industry. The CMO on the other hand, is the marketing superhero responsible for ALL aspects of marketing, including product marketing, brand marketing, content marketing, and events. You'll set the overall marketing vision for the company, making sure everything aligns with the big-picture business goals.

As you progress through these career stages, the focus shifts from doing the work yourself to leading the charge and making strategic decisions. You'll use your deep product knowledge, marketing expertise, and business smarts to guide products to success and help the entire organization grow. It's all about becoming a product marketing leader who leaves a lasting impact!

Prepare yourself for product marketing with these essential skills

The product marketing world throws a lot at you, so you should be equipped to handle it all. That means building a diverse skillset that combines core marketing abilities, in-depth product knowledge, business smarts, and soft skills.

Product marketing skills
  • Marketing mastermind: You'll need to be good at digging deep into the market to understand customer psychology, who your target audience is, and what's trending. Plus, you should be a wordsmith who can craft compelling marketing materials, website copy, and product descriptions that reel people in. Planning, running, and measuring marketing campaigns across different channels – that could be on you too. Bonus points for mastering content marketing and understanding how to use it to attract, engage, and convert potential customers. And with the digital world evolving every day, familiarity with social media, SEO, and PPC ads is a must-have.
  • Product guru: Knowing your product inside-out is key. Understand its features, functionalities, and what makes it stand out. Analyze what your competitors are offering to identify your competitive edge. Staying on top of the product roadmap and future features is important too, so you can align your marketing strategies proactively.
  • Business acumen: A little business knowledge goes a long way. Having a basic grasp of financial concepts like revenue, ad spend, and ROI will help you make smart decisions and showcase the value of your product marketing initiatives. Understanding the broader market landscape, industry trends, and customer behavior is crucial for developing effective strategies. And don't forget the power of data! Analyze in-app user data, measure campaign performance, and identify areas for improvement to show the impact of your work.
  • Soft skills: You will need to be a storyteller to collaborate effectively with all kinds of teams, present to stakeholders, and clearly explain the value of your product, both internally and externally. Collaboration is key too, so being able to work seamlessly with product managers, sales, and customer success – basically everyone – is essential for successful launches and ongoing marketing efforts. Problem-solving skills are a must to tackle challenges, find solutions, and navigate unexpected situations. You're going to be living in a fast-paced environment and will need strong time management and organization skills to juggle multiple tasks, meet deadlines, and prioritize effectively. 

Fuel your ascent in product marketing with smart strategies

If you crave a career that's anything but boring, product marketing is your jam! It's a constant adventure filled with challenges, exciting discoveries, and creative pursuits, and never a day where you'll catch yourself yawning. Akua Sencherey, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Andela says, “I enjoy how fluid the product marketing role can be and the range of different things you can work on. Most times they’re challenging and exciting initiatives. The job never stays the same and keeps you on your toes!”

Here are some smart strategies you can adopt to stay relevant in this space – 

  • Embrace continuous learning: Staying ahead of the curve is crucial for success in any field, and the same is true of product marketing. You should cultivate a continuous learning mindset by staying informed about industry trends. You can do this by actively seeking out industry publications, attending webinars, and participating in online communities. You should also familiarize yourself with emerging technologies that might impact the product marketing landscape, such as artificial intelligence, marketing automation tools, and data analytics platforms. Consider pursuing online courses or industry certifications to refine your skills and gain valuable credentials that can enhance your resume.
  • Network with industry professionals: We learn and think better in the company of like-minded people. Attend industry conferences, meet-ups, and events to connect with fellow product marketers, thought leaders, and potential mentors. 
  • Demonstrate value: Ultimately, advancement in product marketing hinges on consistently demonstrating your value to the organization. Focus on quantifiable results in your work – whether it is by tracking key metrics around campaign performance, lead generation, and customer acquisition or analyzing user behavior in-app to create user journeys and triggers for event-based campaigns. Become a subject matter expert and position yourself as a thought leader within your organization by sharing your product marketing knowledge through internal presentations or blog posts – it's a great way to demonstrate your "value proposition" and empower others. As Amit Alagh, Senior Product Marketing Manager at LexisNexis puts it, “Product marketing is a high visibility role, so it’s imperative you make yourself visible! Send that e-mail to stakeholders, celebrate key milestones - don’t be modest! If you don’t highlight big wins, people will question what product marketing’s role is in the organization and you’ll forever be perceived as sending e-mails or making pretty powerpoints.”

Product marketing is the launchpad to a thriving career

There is no denying that a career in product marketing is rewarding and perfect for those who are creative, understand customers, and want to make a real impact. From entry-level roles as a product marketing specialist or an associate product marketing manager, you can see yourself in more strategic positions as a senior PMM, product marketing director, or head of product marketing. It is also the launchpad to executive positions such as VP of product marketing and CMO roles. 

Ultimately, what you need to make a place for yourself in this journey are strong marketing skills, deep product knowledge, and a love for understanding customers and representing their voice in the company. You will also be in a collaborative zone, since product marketing demands that you shake hands with multiple stakeholders, whether you’re helping product managers finalize their product roadmap or supporting sales and marketing with product messages. 

If you're passionate about technology and communication, product marketing might be your perfect fit. It's a rewarding journey where you'll get to combine your tech savvy with storytelling skills to bring innovative products to life and connect with customers in a meaningful way.

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