Product Marketing Pillar 2: Subject Matter Expert

Check out the 7 pillars of Product Marketing for background info on this topic.

There isn’t a lot of complexity in this pillar for an entire article, making this one of the shortest in the series. However, it’s a critical pillar because I have found Product Marketers skipping over this part of the job sometimes. There won’t be templates or guides to this pillar, instead I will work to convince you why this is so important and what it means to be a true subject matter expert.

Be Able to Pitch/Demo in 30 Days

Whatever you are a PMM for, whether it’s a product, software, or service you must be able to pitch and/or demo your solution. There are going to be many situations where you may need to do this, such as creating videos, speaking on webinars, or attending conferences.

I recommend setting a deadline of 30 days, otherwise it will be your 1 year anniversary on the job before you realize it and you still don’t know how to demo it. You don’t have to be as perfect as your best sales reps (because if you wanted to be pitching every day, you would have been a Sales Rep and not a PMM), but you have to be competent enough.

I also truly believe, through and through, that you can not possibly create top notch messaging and narrative if you do not understand your solution in great detail.

Knowing your buyer means knowing how they interact

Pillar 1 was all about understanding your target buyers and market. This extends to how they operate at work in their day to day. For example, if you’re selling solutions for Developers, it’s critical that you understand what their day looks like, including the tools and processes they work with. If you do not understand this, your messaging will not resonate with your target buyer. They will sniff out that the writer doesn’t really understand them and will find it hard to believe that the solution being pitched actually solves their needs.

Knowledgeable Conversations with Buyers

One of the hardest parts of Product Marketing is getting to the bottom of your buyers’ actual needs. All of your buyers will have explicit needs that they tell you about, and implicit needs that you have to infer. You must be able to have an intelligent conversation with customers and potential buyers in order to dig into what problems they’re truly experiencing.

For example, if you can’t talk about all of the different accounting practices with a prospect of your tax software product, your messaging will remain superficial. By having deep technical conversations you can find hidden gems that truly resonate at the heart of individual buyers.

Engaging Webinars and Speaking Sessions

Nothing is worse than listening to a webinar, or attending a speaking session, where the speaker is regurgitating speaker notes that pitch the solution. Unless I’m instructed specifically to do so, I always avoid pitching a solution during a webinar. Instead, because I invest in this pillar of PMM and know how our company’s solution solves specific needs, I can lead viewers/attendees into the solution without ever pitching it myself. By placing “mental landmines” for them to step around, they will eventually find themselves looking for a solution that solves a very specific set of needs. And if I’ve done my job right, our company will be the only one that answers those needs. Every attendee, if they’re enticed enough, will visit your company’s website after your webinar to see how they can solve all of those problems you just exposed them to.

Your Messaging Must Lead into the Technical

I’ll cover this in the messaging pillar, but your messaging is split up into 3 distinct sections. And only one of those sections has anything to do with your company’s solution, and nobody wants to read about a solution if they haven’t bought into the fact that they have a problem to solve for. So by understanding your solution on on technical/detailed level, you can up level the conversation and ensure that your early stage research messaging leads the buyer directly into the differentiating aspect of your solution. It’s also important to know exactly where your solution falls short, and to craft messaging that steers buyers around any weaknesses.

Your PM Relationship Is Your Most Important

I will never be able to express this sentiment enough: there is no relationship more important than the one with your Product Manager. You and your PM must trust each other and rely on each other for the strengths & focus you bring to the table. While PM has a deep understanding of the product, users, engineering, and technical requirements, as a PMM you bring a deep understanding of the buyer, the market, positioning, and go to market expertise. You are the left and right arm of the same body. Your PM should be able to step into any meeting you have and you should be able to step into any meeting you have as a PMM. You both won’t be able to have conversations at the same level in your counterpart’s meetings, but you can get by enough with conveying & capturing the right information.

If you do not have a strong relationship with mutual trust, you’re both missing a tremendous asset to the success of you in your role. I always prefer to sit as close to my PM as possible, and we speak on an ongoing basis, every single day, multiple times a day.

As I said at the start, this pillar is short but extremely important; too many PMMs gloss past this part. If you can’t pitch/demo your solution today set a goal to do so in the next 30 days.

If you want to talk to me directly, join me on the Product Strategy slack. It’s a brand new slack channel for both PMs & PMMs to come together and elevate our crafts.

and as always…

Good Luck out there!