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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.

Are you thinking about getting into product marketing?

The role of a product marketing manager is not simply creating a marketing plan for your new product or feature update, planning a launch event, and sitting back to watch success blossom. A product marketing manager sits at the nexus of product development, marketing, and sales. Your main responsibility is to be the voice of the customer in shaping the positioning of your products, but within the context of go-to-market, you’re the quarterback that will take the product from inception to launch, coordinating across various marketing branches like design, demand gen, and research. As a PMM, you also need to work with other departments when establishing marketing campaigns, including product managers, sales/customer success, comms, and executive stakeholders.

When it comes to launching, a product marketing manager is a parent, and the product is the child. You have to map out how that child will be cared for through their toddler, teen, and adult years. And like parenthood, it is no easy feat.

As a product marketing manager, 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, you need to find a way to break down the role into manageable sections. Let's look at what a product marketing manager does in the three stages of a launch and where your GTM (go-to-market) strategy fits.

Pre-Launch, PMMs Inform the GTM Strategy with Research

Before the launch, a PMM supports the GTM strategy because research helps clarify where the product will be going and how it will get there.

With a research-backed go-to-market strategy, PMMs can generate better awareness, bettermessaging for customers, and more optimal pricing. Without research, it’s impossible to know if you’re chasing the wrong audience, are too early or too late to a given market, or setting your product up for failure by under or over-pricing it.

As a PMM, you need to stay on top of research. You’ll identify market opportunity by doing market-sizing and competitive analysis research, shape positioning through customer development calls, and optimize pricing and messaging with surveys.

Your research will come from many sources. Surveys, buyer personas, feedback data, focus groups, and even competitor press releases — over 76% of product marketers get their competitive intelligence research from media mentions and press releases. And after amassing all that research, it needs to be shared. Eighty-seven percent of product marketers communicate their research with the sales team, 83% with product teams, and 77% with executives and leadership. A core component of the PMM's role is to manage internal awareness around product-aligned information in order to keep stakeholders on the same page.

Ignition can help a PMM with research. Their software provides built-in research tools for things like MaxDiff, Van Westendorp, and Gabor-Granger research to help identifyfeature preferences and give you guidelines on packaging and price sensitivity. Research within Ignition is all easily categorized and referenceable within the context of launch planning as well, so stakeholders will never forget where it lives.

During Launch, PMMs Keep Teams Focused on GTM Objectives

During the launch, the PMM has to keep the teams focused on the product and company’s end goals and objectives. The role of a PMM is launch conductor — it’s up to you to inspire and motivate the team to execute the launch on-time, on-message, and on-target.

As a PMM, you need to keep track of OKRs (like financial targets, product deliverables, etc.) and make sure the team is hitting milestones to keep the launch on-track.  Eighty-one percent of OKR users go back to realign and revise their objectives, and if you’re able to avoid this it will put you ahead of the game. When you track and effectively communicateOKRs, it gives everyone a North Star to aim for so that teams aren’t struggling or wondering what needs to be done next.

Orient teams so they are objective-focused (focused on the desired end-state and flexible in finding how to best meet that objective), not project-focused (a mindset that concentrates on deliverables and timelines, often losing sight of the real objective). While project-focused frameworks are needed in some cases, objective-focused goals ensure that everyone is working on the customers’ needs first and foremost, which will ultimately create a better product and GTM plan.

Ignition can help document objectives, strategic plans, and project deliverables. Their OKR tool lets you set launch objectives and then track performance pre and post-launch. This helps break down information silos and keep all teams rowing in the same direction. 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.

After Launch, PMMs Follow Up on the GTM Strategy

Just because you launched, doesn’t mean you’re done. After your launch, you’ll need to nurture your new product’s success by tracking key metrics and optimizing your promotional plans along the way. You’ll also want to go back and review your initial GTM strategy for opportunities to improve your next launch. As PMM, you have to view the post-launch phase as equally important to the launch, so you can learn what went right, what went wrong, and what could be improved. This includes following up with the customer when releasing updates.

Release Notes

One of the most essential post-launch follow-ups is continuous communication around post-launch product changes, often in the form of release notes, which are the notes that inform customers which features have been added or modified since the last launch. Your products constantly evolve, even after they're in the market, and customers need to be kept abreast. Unfortunately, poorly done release notes only serve to confuse and infuriate customers.  Good, engaging release notes will help you build a better connection with users, create excitement for new and existing products, and inform sales and marketing teams of new features. To craft effective release notes, make sure to inform users of what's new, what's been changed, and what the changes mean to them.

Launch Retrospective

As a PMM, you are also responsible for your launch retrospective (or “post-mortem”). A launch post-mortem gives you a chance to gather your teams and find out what went right, what went wrong, and what can be improved for the next launch or product update.

Product launch post-mortems should cover these areas in retrospect:

  • Financial goals - did your product sell as well as you thought it would? Did you invest appropriately in your promotional campaigns?
  • Engagement & adoption goals - did customers adopt the product at the rate you expected? Are they engaging with it actively and retaining? How are they using it?
  • Marketing goals - did your campaigns deliver positive ROI? Were conversion rates healthy? Which channels performed well?
  • Customer reaction - how did your product fare in reviews? Social media comments? What’s the NPS of users who adopted it?

Internal enablement effectiveness - how well prepared did your cross-functional teams feel for the launch? Is Sales using the proper messaging and assets? What went wrong?

When looking for feedback, Ignition can help to alleviate the workload of a PMM. Ignition’s post-launch impact reports can connect to your analytics tools and generate instant incrementality reports showing the launch’s impact on key KPIs. And, you’re able to conduct internal retrospective surveys with a few clicks of a button to gauge how internal teams felt the launch planning process went.

Takeaway: Product Marketing May Not Be for You

If you’re not detail-oriented, hate multi-tasking and being pulled in different directions, or can’t seem to connect and engage with people, you may want to look into another field. If you only live for the product build process, maybe a product manager role is a better fit.

But if you want to be the evangelist for a product, let people know how it can change their life, and really be able to market something to a multitude of people and departments, then product marketing is your gig.

But even with the variety of tasks and various assets to manage, you don’t have to go it alone. Ignition is a one-stop GTM platform that organizes your entire planning motion into a single source of truth. It also includes baked-in research,communication, and measurement tools to help automate much of the real “work” involved in the process. Give it a try today.