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What Is a Product Marketing Manager's Role In GTM Strategy

Product Marketing is the quarterback of your product launch plan, and the engine that makes it go-to-market.

Product Marketing is the quarterback of your product launch plan, and the engine that makes it go-to-market.

Jumping headfirst into the world of product marketing? Hold tight! 

Because, let's face it: Many people out there are still blissfully unaware of what a PMM actually does. 

Some might think it's all about coordinating product releases or creating catchy promotional content. Wouldn’t that be easy? (Or boring?) Sure, those tasks are part of the gig, but a PMM's responsibilities go far beyond mere operations.

They're the strategic masterminds behind product positioning, the Sherlock Holmes of competitive analysis, and the smooth talkers who convince diverse audiences why they absolutely need that shiny new product in their lives.

In this article, we're going to explore the multifaceted and dynamic nature of a PMM's role within the broader context of a Go-To-Market (GTM) strategy. While you might already have a solid grasp of the fundamentals, we'll delve deeper into the intricate responsibilities that PMMs undertake in shaping a product's journey to market success.

Let's uncover the indispensable role of a PMM in the GTM process.

But first.

What is GTM strategy?

A Go-To-Market (GTM) strategy is a comprehensive plan that delineates how a company intends to introduce its product or service to the market. It encompasses every facet from product positioning and target audience identification to strategies for customer acquisition, retention, and growth. The GTM strategy is the blueprint for how the product or service will reach its potential customers, involving crucial tactics in marketing, sales, distribution, pricing, and customer service. 

A well-defined GTM strategy helps a company:

  • Enter the market with a clear plan and purpose, minimizing uncertainty and ensuring a smoother market entry
  • Direct its resources and efforts toward the right audience, maximizing the chances of success
  • Understand its competitive landscape and differentiate itself in a way that highlights its unique value proposition
  • Allocate resources efficiently, ensuring that marketing, sales, and other teams work in concert to achieve common goals
  • Measure the success of its market entry and make data-driven decisions for improvement
  • Identify potential risks and challenges so that they're proactively addressed
  • Constantly improve and adapt based on changing market conditions

Do Product Marketing Managers impact GTM strategy

Child pushing a shopping cart with another child in

Your main duty as a PMM is to serve as the voice of the customer, shaping the precise positioning of your product. 

However, PMMs are also the quarterbacks of the GTM world, steering the product from its inception to a successful launch. They coordinate across various marketing functions, including design, demand generation, and research. 

In addition, PMMs ensure that marketing, sales, and product development work in harmony. 

But as a PMM, you don't merely participate in the product launch process. 

Product marketing managers own and drive the entire GTM process. PMMs take charge of all the decision-making steps, from campaign approvals to content sign-offs.

A great PMM is even able to own and influence the bottom line. They make strategic budgeting decisions, allocating marketing budgets with precision and ensuring that resources are invested where they yield the greatest returns.

Navigating through the launch lifecycle is a bit like parenting —  teaching your product to crawl, walk, and eventually run, all while dodging tantrums and market curveballs.

As a PMM, you’ll be responsible for the messaging, positioning, and branding of a product. With so many moving parts, like asset management, stakeholder alignment, content marketing, and extensive research, breaking the role down into manageable sections can be very useful

GTM in the life of a Product Marketing Manager

Slack, the interoffice communication platform, executed its brilliant GTM strategy to achieve phenomenal growth and a valuation of over $1 billion in just two years. If you're an aspiring PMM, let's see where you might have played a crucial role in this GTM strategy process.  

Screenshot of Slack
(Image source)

Strategic positioning: 

Slack’s team was well aware that their product was nothing short of a communication revelation, far superior to the never-ending, soul-sucking trail of emails that seems to be everyone's favorite pastime. Now, all they needed to do was to strategically position themselves as the simpler, more integrated, and frankly more sensible alternative to the email onslaught everyone had grown oh-so-fond of. 

This strategic positioning, which involves shaping the product's image and value proposition, is an area where a PMM plays a crucial role.

Early release and feedback collection:

Rather than diving headfirst into a wide market, Slack started by requesting friends at other companies to provide feedback. They engaged companies like Cozy and Rdio, Spotify’s early competitor, to test their product in diverse teams. If you're a PMM, the feedback collection is your responsibility. Gathering insights and feedback from users helps shape the product and its messaging, making it more appealing to the target audience.

Iterative approach and user insights:

Each phase of Slack's growth involved expanding to progressively larger user groups. This is a strategic decision that someone like a PMM leads for a company. 

This iterative approach, amplified by continuous feedback, polished the product. The PMM often plays a pivotal role in deciding when and how to scale and adapt to user inputs to ensure a product's success.

Continuous feedback and product positioning:

From the outset, Slack made customer feedback the cornerstone of its GTM strategy. The company regularly educated users about their product category, positioning it as a superior alternative to ad-hoc communication methods. 

Collecting customer feedback and gaining insights from that is something that a PMM does. A PMM works closely with customers to understand their needs and ensures that the product aligns with those needs while crafting a compelling market positioning.

Today, Slack, aka the "email killer", is one of the highest valued startups that grew from nothing to $4 billion over four years with a 3.5x growth in daily active users over a year. Slack was eventually bought by Salesforce for $27 billion.

Now let's look at what a PMM does in the three stages of a launch and where GTM strategy fits in.

Pre-launch, Product Marketing Managers inform the GTM strategy with research 

Before the launch, the PMM plays a critical role in preparing the GTM strategy. Through comprehensive research, setting objectives and KPIs, and creating a launch plan with every detail included, the PMM ensures the launch and post-launch run smoothly.


Research is essential for successful product launches. A well-informed GTM strategy helps PMMs achieve key objectives:

  • Increase product awareness
  • Tailor messaging to customer needs
  • Establish optimal pricing strategies

Without research, businesses risk:

  • Targeting the wrong audience
  • Timing market entry poorly
  • Misjudging pricing strategy, leading to failure.

Stay on top of research to identify market opportunities, shape positioning, and optimize pricing and messaging. Research sources include surveys, buyer personas, feedback data, focus groups, and competitor press releases.

76% of product marketers rely on media mentions and press releases for competitive intelligence. PMMs share research findings with sales teams (87%), product teams (83%), and executives (77%).

Tools like Ignition facilitate research with built-in utilities like MaxDiff, Van Westendorp, and Gabor-Granger research to identify feature preferences, packaging, and price sensitivity. Categorize and reference research within Ignition for easy access during launch planning. You’ll also find a bunch of helpful free tools to get you started, like a free sales battlecard template.

Once the research is done, the PMM takes on the role of creating solid objectives and deciding what metrics to follow in order to understand the launch’s success.

Craft business and marketing objectives

A product launch revolves around clear business objectives that provide tangible value. Setting objectives and key results (OKRs), such as financial targets and product deliverables, is a crucial PMM responsibility. 

You’ll need to create a timeline to keep teams on track. The objective could be revenue targets, increased product usage, or improved operational efficiency. Follow the SMART framework to make the objective

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Marketing objectives guide overall strategy and can include category creation, growth, penetration, switching, and adoption. Define these objectives to align marketing efforts with business goals. 

Develop the marketing and rollout strategy

Develop a solid marketing strategy by leveraging research insights, refining buyer personas, selecting suitable channels, and planning and releasing assets like emails, targeted ads, and organic content. PMMs are crucial in developing the rollout strategy for marketing assets. This involves creating a comprehensive plan that outlines how and where the product will be introduced to the market and reach its target audience. 

Here are some things you'll decide with the respective teams:

Buyer journeys: Create detailed buyer personas and map out the buyer's journey from awareness to purchase. Tailor marketing and sales efforts to align with each stage, ensuring relevant positioning, messaging and content.

Channel mix: Decide on the marketing channels for the launch, including digital (social media, email marketing, content marketing) and traditional (events, trade shows). Choose channels based on the target audience's preferences and behavior.

Asset plans: Plan and create marketing assets for the launch, including promotional materials, product collateral, presentations, google ad copy, and sales tools. Ensure alignment with the messaging and strategy.

By incorporating these strategies, PMMs can effectively introduce products to the market and drive success.

During launch, PMMs serve as launch conductors

During the days before, day-of and days after launch, PMMs are responsible for managing the war room to ensure nothing breaks and inspiring and guiding the team to execute the launch precisely, on schedule, and on message. That sounded glamorous. The reality looks a little more like Wall Street in 2008. Here are some of the action steps that a PMM takes when launching:

Collaborate with teams and advocate your brand

As a PMM, you collaborate with marketing, sales, and customer service teams to align on the GTM strategy, fostering cohesion and breaking down silos. 

You’ll also work closely with the product team, conducting market research to refine positioning and ensure product-market fit. By bridging the gap between the product and the market, PMMs contribute significantly to the product's success

Remember, you’re championing the brand, ensuring the product resonates with the intended audience. It's about finding the right fit and maximizing success.

Manage and coordinate projects

You'll be quarterbacking the entire product launch process to ensure that everything runs smoothly and according to plan. Here are some of the steps you'll follow:

Kickoff meetings: Organize and lead kickoff meetings that bring together cross-functional teams, including product management, engineering, design, marketing, and sales. These meetings set the stage for the product launch, aligning teams on goals, timelines, and responsibilities.

Briefing teams: Brief teams on the product, its features, and the messaging strategy. This includes creating detailed briefs and conducting training sessions to ensure that everyone has a deep understanding of the product and its value proposition.

Sales enablement: Work closely with the sales team to provide them with the necessary tools, training, and resources to effectively sell the product. This includes developing sales training materials, product presentations, and objection handling guides.

Tracking deliverables: Keep a close eye on project timelines and deliverables to ensure that everything stays on track. Monitor progress, identify bottlenecks, and take proactive steps to address any issues that may arise.

Quality control of assets

As the gatekeeper of product messaging and positioning, you'll act as the approver and maintain strict quality control over all assets created for the product launch. This includes marketing materials, sales collateral, website content, and any other customer-facing materials. Here are some of your responsibilities:

Asset approval: Review and approve all assets to ensure that they align with the product's messaging and positioning.

Website content: Ensure the website is fully functional and be ready for last-minute bugs. Have a team on stand-by to deal with any issues quickly.

Consistency: Enforce consistency in branding, messaging, and design across all assets. This ensures the product maintains a cohesive and professional image.

Orchestrate and align your efforts

PMMs have a diverse toolkit at their disposal to orchestrate the launch with precision. From gathering market insights to crafting messaging, these tools empower PMMs to lead the launch effectively. 

Ignition provides tools for objective documentation, strategic planning, and project coordination. Our OKR tool empowers you to define launch objectives and seamlessly track performance pre and post launch. 

Having a singular view into every critical piece of launch info in a central location helps speed launch work and keeps your GTM strategy and launch plan aligned.

Post-launch, PMMs follow up on the GTM strategy

Did you know that less than 50% of products that are launched are adopted? One of the main reasons for this is a lack of customer success strategies and poor management of post-launch GTM.

Launching a product isn't the grand finale; it's the opening act of a much larger performance. GTM is an ongoing iterative process so, for a PMM, the post-launch phase is just as critical as the launch itself. 

Listen, adapt, and fuel the product roadmap

After the launch, pay close attention to what customers and users are saying about your product. Keep an ear to the ground through feedback channels to understand what excites users, what doesn't align with your messaging, and where your product may have missed the mark. This feedback is your ultimate source of improvement.

Take it a step further by collecting voice-of-customer feedback. What are users truly yearning for, and how can you deliver it? Feed this crucial information back to the product team to iterate on the product roadmap. This ongoing cycle of feedback and enhancement keeps your product cutting edge.

When it's time to collect feedback, Ignition can make things easier for a PMM. Ignition's post-launch impact reports can connect to your analytics tools and generate instant incrementality reports to show how the launch scored on the key KPIs. 

Conduct a thorough launch retrospective

A product launch isn't a sprint; it's a marathon relay. Remind everyone involved that it isn't an instant revenue booster; it's the inception of a series of activities, and outcomes may take time to materialize. 

Conduct a retrospective to gather feedback on what worked and what didn't. It's your chance to learn and refine your strategies. This is where you and your team sit down to analyze the performance — what hit the bullseye, what missed the mark, and what needs a bit of polish for the next product launch or update.

During the post-launch review, keep these aspects in focus:

  • Financial Goals: Did your product sales meet your projections? Did your investments align with your promotional campaigns, ensuring a solid economic outcome?
  • Engagement and Adoption Goals: Did customers embrace your product at the expected pace? Are they actively using and retaining it? How are they integrating it into their workflows?
  • Marketing Goals: Did your campaigns generate a positive return on investment? Did conversion rates meet expectations? Which channels proved most effective?
  • Customer Reaction: How did your product fare in reviews? What was the buzz on social media? What's the Net Promoter Score (NPS) of users who adopted it?
  • Internal Readiness: How well-prepared were your cross-functional teams for the launch? Did they collaborate smoothly during the launch? Is Sales using the appropriate messaging and assets? What challenges did you encounter?

Infographic showing launch retrospective sections

Dashboard your progress and keep an eye on competitors

Imagine dashboards as your control center. Before embarking on your journey, set up these command posts to monitor key metrics like website traffic, blog engagement, ad performance, and social media interactions. 

Regularly check these dashboards for trends and act swiftly when you spot interesting developments. If a specific channel is outperforming expectations, invest more resources in it. 

Observe competitors' reactions to your launch and adjust your messaging accordingly. Are they countering with new features or offerings? Continually refine your messaging to stay a step ahead.

Maintain a steady flow of content

After the launch, don't let the chatter die down. Whether it's blogs, videos, ebooks, webinars, or social media banter, the aim is to keep your audience engaged and invested in your recent release. To decide what type of content to create, focus on creating informative and compelling content. 

Keep communication open and pay attention to release notes

Above all, maintaining an open line of communication with your customers is paramount. Especially when releasing updates or product changes, you must ensure that customers feel heard and informed. 

Your products are in a constant state of evolution, even after they've hit the market. It's essential to keep your customers informed about these changes. Effective release notes can serve as a bridge of connection with your users. They not only inform but also create excitement for new and existing products. They also provide key insights to sales and marketing teams about the latest features.

Takeaway: Find out if you’re the right fit for a Product Marketing Manager role

  • Feeling overwhelmed by the nitty-gritty details? 
  • Multitasking not your forte? 
  • People skills not your jam? 

Maybe product marketing isn't for you. Fret not. If you only live for the product-building process and want to avoid the rest of the jazz, then consider a product manager role instead. 

But if you yearn to:

  • Be the ultimate product evangelist
  • Show the world how a product can transform lives
  • Effectively market to diverse audiences and departments

Then product marketing is your dream gig.

However, just because you have to wear many hats for a PMM role, don't think you'd have to do it all by yourself. 

Ignition, the one-stop GTM platform, can be a valuable resource. It simplifies your planning by centralizing everything you need. It includes research tools, communication features, and measurement capabilities to make your job easier.

Curious about how Ignition can enhance your product marketing journey? Let's explore it together.