What the 2% do to break into product marketing
What’s product marketing?
Next time you shop your grocery store, walk down the cereal aisle. Study your options, take note where each one is stocked (that too is a conscious decision), ask yourself:
Who’s the target customer for this cereal?
That’s product marketing in a nutshell. Product marketers create, communicate, and deliver a product’s value (message) to the target audience.
They play a crucial role to help products sell themselves. The 2% of product marketers who broke into the field know this. It’s the same approach they used to break into product marketing themselves. ‘
In this 5-minute read, we’ll discuss five ideas to consider and help you be a better seller of your past (and unique) experiences.
Understand the role of a product marketer
Product marketing is not a “one-size-fits-all” job description. The Product Marketing Alliance (PMA) even host an annual event on how misunderstood the profession is.
Product marketers are responsible for conducting market research, defining product positioning, and creating go-to-market strategies. They work closely with the sales, engineering, and design teams to bring a product to market.
A product marketer’s ultimate goal is to drive revenue through building compelling message to reach their target audience.
To be a successful product marketer, it matters to have a deep understanding of the industry you want to work in and a passion for the product you are marketing.
Essential skills of a successful product marketer
Product marketers are a “jack of all trades”. Break Into Product Marketing course sums up the traits of a successful PMM with the BARS framework. An acronym of four key skills: building projects from 0 to 1, analyze data to make informed decisions, research market trends, and storytelling.
Make your break into product marketing with the inaugural online video course at $49 for lifetime access. Click here to learn more.
A product marketer must also be able to work well under pressure and have the ability to pivot when market conditions change. It happens more times than you think.
Build a strong personal brand and portfolio
Don’t blend in the sea of job applicants. A strong personal brand and online portfolio is critical to stand out from the competition. Your portfolio should showcase your past work and highlight the impact you’ve had on previous projects.
For me, my portfolio is a combination of what I share on LinkedIn and what I’ve built with Break Into Product Marketing. It is not limited to that alone. Be sure to include case studies, product launch plans, and other relevant documents that demonstrate your product marketing skills.
Gonna sound like a broken record when I say this but...
Be sure to maintain an updated LinkedIn profile, engage in comment threads to increase your exposure, and establish yourself as a thought leader-in-the-making.
Devin Reed has an incredible course on this topic. I took it when I first started to get more serious about my personal brand on LinkedIn. If you are not following him, start now.
Like products that sell themselves, build a strong personal brand to attract product marketing interviews and opportunities to you.
Networking and building relationships
You can’t break into product marketing without networking. It’s not a necessary evil. Try telling me that back in 2012 — I hated networking. It felt forced and inauthentic.
What changed is something I read called Only Connect. Go into every conversation with the intent of learning something new. Networking is not about you. It’s about how you can be of service to others. You can’t know how unless you put yourself out there.
Attend industry events.
I did this last September when Product Marketing Alliance pulled up to San Francisco for the PMA Summit event. If you have one in an area near you, I highly recommend you make the effort and go.
Check out this link to see if there is one near you.
It’s an investment, yes. But if you can, your employer can help cover the cost as part of your professional development. You don’t know if you don’t ask. This event taught me incredible concepts, connected me online friends IRL (in real life), and made a few new ones.
This investment still pays interest today.
If you can’t make in-person events, join online forums and connect with product marketers on LinkedIn.
Good places to start are the Sharebird Top 100 Product Marketing Mentors and PMA Top 100 Influencers to build those connections and learn from people in the role you want (shameless plug: I am on the list!).
Building relationships with industry professionals can lead to job referrals, mentorship opportunities, and the ability to stay up-to-date on industry trends.
Remember, research is one of four key skills you want to be a successful product marketer. Networking, in one way, makes for an easy win to secure it.
Develop and refine your product marketing skills
Finally, commit to deliberate practice to develop and refine your product marketing skills. Enroll in online courses. Check out the ones offered through the Pragmatic Institute or Product Marketing Alliance. I’ve had the pleasure to take both of their certifications when I first started out in product marketing.
Attend workshops. I make it a conscious goal to attend one workshop every quarter to keep my skills sharp. And, read industry publications to stay current on the latest trends and best practices.
My first product marketing role was in cybersecurity and I made it a daily habit to read Dark Reading online publication (thank you for this recommendation, Erik — give him a follow on LinkedIn!) when I first started. If you are unsure where to find one, Google (or ChatGPT) to find one for your industry.
Continuous improvement of your skills better prepares you to take on new challenges and grow your career in the product marketing. You have the skills and experiences to become a product marketer. Use them to build your personal brand and attract the career opportunities you desire.
Sell yourself like a product marketer to break into your dream career.