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After a period of instability brought on by the pandemic and continued economic uncertainty, CMOs are increasingly looking to centralize their marketing teams in an attempt to increase operational efficiency.

According to the recent Gartner report Future-Proof Your Marketing Organization to Outpace Competition, centralizing your marketing structure is not a fix-all, and it is becoming increasingly important for business leaders to ensure that the structure of their marketing team reflects their strategy and is in line with the overarching goals of their organization.

So when it comes to assembling a successful SaaS marketing team, it’s ideal to have a dedicated team and department head for each channel. Product marketing is an essential component of the team structure and should play a significant role in defining your go-to-market and sales enablement strategy.

What Is Product Marketing?

Product marketing sits at the intersection of product, marketing, and sales, helping to raise knowledge of customer pain points and promote the benefits of the product. This team plays an integral role in defining how your product is presented to your target audience and the story that is built around it.

A strong product marketing team focuses on long-term strategy and success, considering how it can set the sales team up for success, reviewing metrics and measuring the impact of marketing initiatives to optimize for greater results and to meet business needs.

The Evolution Of Product Marketing Teams

In the past, product marketing was responsible for advocating for customer pain points, communicating product value, and ultimately increasing sales and customer acquisition.

Now we’re seeing the role of product marketers shifting; from fine-tuning brand messaging to data analysis, product marketers are increasingly taking ownership of a larger piece of the marketing pie, making it crucial to hire individuals with a broad skill set who can adapt easily to take on whatever tasks are required of them.

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Defining Your Product Marketing Goals

“Businesses cannot afford to take a transactional approach to their relationships with customers. Customer service is now a key differentiator, but this year’s report reveals gaps exist between expectation and delivery.” Adrian McDermott, Chief Technology Officer at Zendesk commented, referencing Zendesk’s Customer Experience (CX) Trends Report 2022.

Gone are the days when businesses could simply present a new product and wait for buyers to appear. McDermott stresses the importance of relationship-building in order to reach your business goals, which is really where product marketing shines.

  • Cultivate a deeper understanding of your customer: Product marketing is responsible for deepening your organizational understanding of your target audience. This includes building your customer personas and the journey they take to purchasing your product and what drives their decision-making.
  • Create targeted marketing campaigns: The most impactful marketing materials resonate by appealing to your audience on a personal level. Creating a customized user experience helps to elicit an emotional reaction from your customer and deepening the relationship.
  • Differentiate yourself from the competition: Part of bringing a product to market is developing a thorough understanding of what already exists, and how your product stands up against the competition. A competitive analysis can help you to define your brand and further develop your marketing strategy.
  • Define your product positioning: Thanks to the thorough research and analysis conducted by product marketing, you can gain a better understanding of how to strategically position your product within the market to ensure it stands out in the right way.

Structuring The Product Marketing Team

Your product marketing team structure may vary based on your organizational structure and your business objectives. That said, there are certain roles that tend to be viewed as indispensable to an effective product marketing team.

Head of Product Marketing

Reporting to the CMO and communicating with other key stakeholders, the head of product marketing is responsible for defining the vision of their department and ensuring correct and consistent messaging across marketing channels and overseeing the complete product roadmap.

Dana Barrett, Asana’s Global Head of Product Marketing describes product marketing as “one of the most highly cross-functional marketing disciplines in SaaS.” In her role, Barrett sees how important it is to have strong processes behind the scenes to help facilitate the collaboration of product, sales, design, and content, and how this synergy is what powers the best product marketing.

Product Marketing Manager

Product marketing managers help facilitate marketing-related activities that disseminate the messaging as dictated by the head of product marketing, and help to come up with creative campaign ideas to effectively communicate this messaging to the target audience.

One example of this is defining the value proposition, a single statement that communicates what your product does and why it’s the best solution for your target audience. 

Personal finance app Mint is a great example of a SaaS company that saw huge growth (1.5 million users in its first two years!) through strategic marketing efforts and product positioning in particular. Mint’s value prop “be good with your money,” is simple but effective, and has successfully appealed to an audience that aspires to improve their financial health.

Mint’s strategic positioning was key when it entered the market in 2007, a time when the US was experiencing one of the worst economic crises since the Great Depression. The app enabled people to take control of their finances, tracking their bank accounts and investments without a financial advisor.

Their use of content marketing was particularly inspiring. A unique personal finance blog helped them build their audience before their product was even on the market, so when the app was ready, the customer base was there.

Product Marketing Specialist

Product marketing specialists collaborate with various teams, including product development, sales, and marketing, to ensure a cohesive and compelling message is communicated to the target audience.

Responsibilities may include conducting market research to understand customer needs and preferences, creating marketing collateral such as product descriptions and promotional materials, defining target customer profiles, and developing pricing strategies.

Brand Specialist

A brand strategist is a professional who specializes in developing and implementing strategies to build and strengthen a brand. The role of a brand strategist involves analyzing the target market, understanding consumer behavior, and working to position a brand effectively in front of the audience. Their goal is to create a unique and compelling brand identity that sets the company apart from competitors and resonates with the target audience.

Graphic design company Canva leans on its strong global brand to continue to flourish even in less-than-ideal marketing conditions. Jennie Rogerson, Canva’s global head of people, has stated the importance of valuing people as individuals, a concept that extends to their marketing strategy. Speaking to HR magazine, Rogerson said, “We don’t believe that our people and product are separate. The better our cohesion and culture is, the better our product is.”

How Product Marketing Can Help Define Your Go-To-Market Strategy

Whether you’re founding a startup or working with a seasoned marketing team, your product marketing team can help facilitate a solid go-to-market strategy.

A successful GTM strategy is a detailed plan of how your team members will come together to produce a marketing campaign that increases brand awareness and introduces your product to your target audience.

Your GTM strategy takes into consideration upcoming product launches, distribution channels, your customer value proposition, and your product messaging and tactics.

While product marketing essentially encompasses many facets of a SaaS marketing team, this strategy will serve as the source of truth that will dictate how you proceed with all other marketing activities, like content creation for social media, content marketing and email marketing.

Pushing The Envelope

Wherever you are in the development of your marketing strategy, you'll want to make sure you’re investing adequately in product marketing. As evidenced in the examples outlined above, strong product marketing can make all the difference for SaaS companies entering a saturated marketplace, regardless of the specific product you’re selling.

Your product marketing team is consistently surveying the landscape, letting you know what’s going on out there and how you can and should be adjusting to changing market conditions. Because your product marketing team is so multifaceted, they can fulfill a multitude of marketing roles, measuring KPIs and making SEO recommendations while also conceiving creative ways to tell the story of your entire product line and facilitate wins for the sales team. Talk about teamwork!

While there’s no denying product marketing is a powerhouse, even the best product marketers can’t do it alone. Support your product marketing team by selecting the right software. Not sure where to start? We’ve done the hard work for you and compiled this list of the 12 most outstanding product marketing tools

While you’re at it, subscribe to The CMO newsletter to get an injection of the latest industry tips, insights, and inspiration straight to your inbox.

Anya Leibovitch
By Anya Leibovitch

Anya Leibovitch is a content marketing strategist and writer. She has worked with brands and agencies such as GSoft, Divisional, and The Green Organic Dutchman to create story-led brand content and thought leadership articles.