What skills do I need to be a product marketer?

Product marketing brings together three worlds: customers, product, and marketing. The discipline of product marketing requires expert knowledge to communicate the benefits of a product in a way that resonates with target customers. It takes a broad skill set to apply that knowledge to the broad set of deliverables that product marketers are responsible for — such as messaging, sales enablement materials, marketing programs, and much more.

The discipline of product marketing can vary considerably by industry. However, it is a particularly important role in technology companies. Especially in the B2B space, there are more technical products in the market and competition is fierce. Companies need people who can understand the product and the market, and who can clearly communicate the benefits to customers.

It is no easy feat to launch a product successfully and continue driving its growth. Product marketing plays an important role in managing these efforts and making sure everyone — both internally and externally — understands the unique value their product provides.

For many product marketers, it is the wide variety of responsibilities and deliverables that makes this career path so challenging and exciting. To be successful, a product marketer must have a core set of underlying skills that can be applied to different situations.

Education

Product marketers often have degrees in marketing or business administration. For leadership roles in product marketing, some companies also prefer MBAs. However, higher education is just one aspect. Many product marketers start out as general marketers. This gives exposure to a specific industry and the opportunity to learn functional skills on the job.

Skills

There are some essential skills that every product marketer needs in order to serve as a bridge across many departments (namely product, sales, and marketing), communicate a product’s value, and drive growth. The table below includes an overview of the skills that serve all product marketers well.

Cross-functional leadership

Product marketers often lead without direct authority. They rally internal teams to work together on product launches and inspire colleagues with their technical expertise and explanation of product benefits. Product marketing communicates early and often, understands the metrics other teams are held accountable for, and invests in relationships with teammates to drive cross-functional teamwork.

Customer empathy

Product marketers know the needs and pains of customers deeply. They may lead product demos, interview customers for case studies, and read every comment online to truly understand the impact of a customer problem. This empathetic thinking leads to more thoughtful, impactful messaging.

Marketing knowledge

A product marketer needs to understand the broader marketing discipline and excel in content, demand generation, social media, digital marketing, and project management. Additionally, product marketers must write exceptionally well, from go-to-market materials to case studies.

Planning and project management

Effective planning skills are essential to product marketing. Leading up to any launch, product marketing ensures every update has been made and every customer-facing team has the materials they need. Successful launches are carefully planned — before, during, and after the go-live date.

Presentation ability

Product marketers need to have strong communication skills. External-facing presentations often include customer demos, conference talks or Q+As, press and analyst briefings, and webinars. Product marketers must also be able to present their go-to-market strategies internally and lead internal market and product training sessions.

Product expertise

Product marketers need to understand their product or service better than almost anyone else in the organization. This is required to articulate the benefits to customers. In addition to using their own product or service on a regular basis, product marketers must apply critical thought to the impact of new functionality on use cases. They must also maintain a fresh perspective by regularly talking to customers.

Research and analysis

Product marketers know the product landscape and its latest changes. They are skilled at interpreting and analyzing their findings and, most importantly, applying those insights and influencing product decisions. Product marketers are always aware of competitor moves and industry shifts that could influence their company’s product growth and positioning.

Roadmapping

Product marketers are skilled at building go-to-market roadmaps that capture the high-level strategy and work required to deliver a new experience to customers. Their plans explain how they will promote their new feature, product, or service to reach the right audience. A product marketer’s ability to define a solid roadmap helps align the entire organization around what they want to achieve from a launch.

Storytelling

Product marketing must distill the essence of the product’s value into a message that resonates with their target audience. The best product marketers write positioning that clearly captures a buyer’s problem and makes a strong argument for how their product solves it. They tell buyers the story of why their product matters — and provide the storyline and structure for other marketers to tell it too.

Strategic thinking

Product marketing is a strategic function. Product marketers must understand the big picture, company goals, and how everything fits together in their organization to make an impact. They define go-to-market strategies and other key programs that propel the business forward. Product marketing also provides the expertise that allows other groups to deliver complete and effective programs.

Technical understanding

The more product marketers know about the technology behind the product, the better they can articulate its value and differentiate it in the market. Product marketing needs to explain the technical benefits of functionality and create assets such as videos and screenshots that show how to use it. Combining technical understanding with product expertise and customer empathy is key to effectively communicating the value of your solution to target buyers.

Written communication

Product marketers write a wide variety of content from customer case studies to blogs and go-to-market materials. Their ability to write in a clear and concise way is key to helping users understand how their product works and the value it provides. Product marketing’s understanding of their audience and their own organization’s voice also contributes to the quality of their copy.

Product marketers confront all kinds of releases and business problems. They need a broad set of skills to successfully navigate and deliver on the task at hand. The list above summarizes the major skills that a product marketer needs and the value they bring to an organization.

Compensation and job titles

Product marketing is a valuable role and a rewarding career path. There is the potential to have a positive impact on many people and processes in the organization. Now that you know the education and skills required, you may be wondering how much these roles typically get paid.

Salaries among product marketing professionals can range anywhere from $47,000 to $200,000-plus depending on seniority, according to sites such as Glassdoor and PayScale. Common product marketing job titles include junior product marketing associate, product marketing manager, senior product marketing manager, and director of product marketing.

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