The 7 Product Marketing Muscles

Plus ça change: I’ve seen the same thing over and over across two decades of product marketing in companies big and small, in unicorns and in turnarounds: there are 7 product marketing (PMM) muscles that make the biggest impact.

On my 4 product lines at Salesforce and Oracle, I saw some great examples of all 7 steps… and I saw even better work at companies like Bell Labs, Evolve Software, Primavera, Hedgeye, and FirstRain.

And… the best teams I’ve been on have regularly, intentionally adjusted where to focus product marketing muscle at each stage:

Early stage businesses are forming and testing hypotheses about what they are, every day. Getting a team humming on how to understand customers and the competition is the most vital focus.

Breakout companies are different. With a hypothesis in hand, defining a category that you can make super-relevant to your customer, and positioning your products for sustainable advantage in that category — those are the 10Xers, 20Xers of leverage you can get out of product marketing. Building a coherent signal on category and position is the comparative advantage of great PMM (and executive) teams.

Finally, accelerating companies often have category and positioning more worked-out and get to prioritize the fun work of dominating a market by telling terrific product and customer stories to an engaged community that loves your product. This is still positioning, messaging, and storytelling, but to a different purpose.

About your PMM team: I’ve positioned ‘Get the Team Humming’ as common across stages. Most software companies *do* have one or more high-potential, high-IQ, high-integrity PMMs, with multiple strong muscles, even if the team is a little less experienced — but growing a high-impact team through coaching, development, and hiring takes big time investment (that execs sometimes don’t have), and is critical to the goal of a Product Marketing powerhouse that puts market domination into play.

Have a different angle on the core 7 muscles? Come at me.

The Front Porch
Moss Beach, CA

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