According to Google Trends, interest in “product marketing” has grown by almost 500% over the last 10 years. While the core responsibilities of the function have existed since the first exchange of value, there’s no doubt that product marketing is now experiencing a sort of renaissance.
It’s not that the function is any more or less important than it’s ever been—we’re just more keenly aware of it. I believe there is a uniquely significant driver: the rise of cloud deployment.
Bear with me.
Mary Meeker’s 2019 Internet Trends report highlights the incredible growth of cloud service revenues, which totaled $13M+ in Q1 2019 between AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud, and is growing at well over 50% year-over-year.
Cloud deployment has made it cheaper and easier than ever to spin up new technologies, leading to extremely competitive markets and more choices than ever for buyers (and oh by the way, insane increases in CAC). In this environment, how do you cut through the noise? And once you do, how do you get customers to stick around?
One answer: great product marketing. It’s one of the most critical roles in any SaaS organization, but it’s also one of the least understood. Is it product or is it marketing? Isn’t it just sales collateral, product documentation, and case studies?
What is product marketing?
At its core, product marketing is responsible for having a deep understanding of your customer, your market (including competition), and your product, and ensuring every team within your organization (especially sales, product, and marketing) are leveraging that intelligence to optimize their respective functions. This is exactly why product marketing is so misunderstood: The core value of product marketing is most often made visible by the teams putting that understanding into action.
While the majority of product marketers directly own outcomes such as product adoption, the impact of a great product marketing function is more broadly expressed throughout the organization in the form of increased win rates, lower cost of acquisition, and higher customer retention—metrics each and every SaaS professional has a stake in.
The time to invest in product marketing is now.
6 top product marketing resources
Unfortunately, it’s really hard to find quality product marketing resources today. Fortunately, there’s a huge opportunity for experienced product marketers to fill that void and share their knowledge with the world. While this post just covers the tiniest tip of the iceberg, I promise there’s more to come. In the meantime, I leave you with 6 of my favorite SaaS product marketing resources (although truthfully, almost all of these are applicable beyond SaaS as well).
The Product Marketing Alliance is a global organization with a simple mission: to elevate the role of product marketing. They’ve got an endless number of free articles, an open Slack community, a podcast, courses, summits and meet-ups around the globe, awards, and even a product marketing-specific job board. Whether you’re new to product marketing or a veteran product marketer looking for a community to share with and learn from, PMA is an excellent place to start.
Positioning (authored by Al Ries and Jack Trout, who happen to be two of the most well-known and respected marketing strategists in the world) is an absolute must-read for product marketers (and, in my not-so-controversial opinion, any human who interacts with other humans). This case study-laden book focused on positioning and messaging was originally published in 1981, but the lessons are 100% timeless. I just re-read it a few weeks ago and have never been more inspired. Do yourself a favor and dive in today.
Product Marketing Community is an ongoing series of physical and digital events created by product marketers, for product marketers. Currently, these include local gatherings across 6 U.S. and Canadian cities as well as on-demand webinars featuring some of the top product marketing professionals in the world. The events are, in their words, “part workshop, part networking forum and part master class—a place to learn, share, incite and inspire.”
Ok, so the full title of the book is Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers, but it seemed a bit long for a headline. Another instant classic, this one is aimed more specifically at early stage SaaS businesses, but any “high-tech” professional will benefit from reading. In the book, Geoffrey Moore (who has advised a number of companies you may have heard of, like Salesforce, Microsoft, Google, and Splunk) shines a spotlight on the challenges start-up companies face transitioning from early adopting to mainstream customers. You’ll walk away from this one a whole lot more aware of how your customers, market, and product fit (or don’t fit) together.
I found this one very recently and am happy I did. ShareBird describes itself as a “Q&A site for product marketers.” It’s essentially an online forum focused on product marketing topics. You can follow specific topics and filter on companies you actually want to learn from, participate in AMAs with super-credible product marketers, engage directly with other product marketing professionals. The theme of ShareBird as well as the other two non-book resources above is community. We have a lot to learn from each other, so let’s unite and elevate product marketing together.
Ok, so this episode of B2B Growth is not exactly one of my favorite product marketing resources, I’m very happy to have been a guest on the B2B Growth podcast and quite hopeful that listeners will get some value out of it. In 3 Ways Product Marketers are Your Company’s Secret Weapon, I go a bit deeper than this post into the core responsibilities of product marketers, the skills that I believe to be most valuable (spoiler: being able to produce a really great powerpoint is not on the list), and give my hot take on the future of this whole “product marketing” thing.
Eric heads up Marketing at Appcues. When he isn't helping companies become more product-led, he’s likely to be found keeping up with his wife and 2 children, exploring the White Mountains with his dog Barley, or fermenting things at home.