I have spent some 27 years as a sales and marketing professional, and for the last 10 years I have prided myself with perfecting the “product marketing discipline.” Yet, I’m here to tell you that that role as it has existed no longer applies. – James Norwood, EPiServer
The B2B marketing world is undergoing a seismic shift. While mass-market ad campaigns are still part of the ecosystem—and important for reaching audiences at scale—there are new complexities at play. For one, digital has completely changed how people consume media: in the B2B sector, research processes have transitioned from being sales-driven to entirely self-directed. Not to mention, growth channels have become more data-driven and marketing teams are more cross-functional than ever.
It’s this evolution that has given rise to a new role: the product marketer. This individual is an organization’s glue—responsible for bringing sales, product, engineering, and executive teams together to better reach a company’s target market. This person harnesses a mix of left and right-brained skillsets, has strong research skills, and can uncover new direction when facing ambiguity. In the next few years, more companies are going to need this role, which means that the hiring landscape is going to become more competitive.
It’s important to know who you’re seeking out so that you can start targeting that person early (hey, this person might even be in college or even high school right now). Below are the key skills that the future B2B product marketer will embody.
Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, which means that your product marketer likely won’t be a “jack of all trades”—and that’s a good thing. You’ll want to hire someone who can double down on their “superpower” to add value to your organization. But you’ll also want a B2B product marketer who understands how their skills fit into your organization’s bigger picture.
You’ll want someone with diverse marketing experience—someone who has “tried it all” to figure out what they love and excel at most. This perspective will make them a strong, cross-functional team player. They’ll know how to connect marketing efforts together and how to double-down on efforts they pursue.
At the end of the day, product marketing is about tradeoffs. At any given time, there are dozens of channels for your company to pursue. It’s important to take a step back and focus on the ones that will deliver the most impact. Your B2B product marketer, having a breadth of experience, will know how to do exactly that.
At the end of the day, product marketing is about tradeoffs
Product marketing is an extremely tough role. The biggest challenge? It’s tough to balance long-term company goals with short-term fire drills and low-hanging opportunities. Not to mention, product marketers regularly work with multiple business teams, switching gears from engineering to analytics and collateral development.
A strong sense of empathy is essential to this process. The best product marketing hires will be able to put themselves in their stakeholders’ shoes to determine the right course of action. They will be able to absorb information from multiple sources, translate information into business recommendations, and communicate results. Most importantly, they’ll be highly attentive to their audience’s needs.
Results take time to achieve. In search of clarity through ambiguity, product marketers often hit dead ends, frustrating setbacks, and even lost revenue. It can be tough for any person to keep going when there’s friction.
But the best product marketers understand that big results take time to achieve. Even when facing pressure to scale fast, top product marketers will remain patient and persistent, building a strong foundation for a healthy marketing operation.
When it comes to success with product marketing, you don’t want to depend on luck. You need to create steady and predictable processes instead. The best product marketers won’t let low-hanging pressures cloud their judgment.