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15 Differences between Good PMMs and Great PMMs (and How to Become One)

Throughout my experience working at four tech companies, I've encountered exceptional product marketers in various roles – some were my peers, others were my superiors, a few reported to me, and many were PMMs I had the privilege of mentoring and coaching.

In my view, certain distinct qualities set these top PMMs apart from their good counterparts. Below, I've expanded the list to include 15 traits based on reader feedback, building upon the original ​top 10 traits I shared in my LinkedIn post​.

1/ Good PMMs spend time understanding customers - they conduct research regularly to uncover existing customer needs. Great PMMs are obsessed with customers’ needs - they know the customers' intrinsic motivators and emotional drivers to anticipate their FUTURE needs.

2/ Good PMMs leverage market and customer data to do good product marketing - such as influencing the roadmap and understanding the customer journey. Great PMMs leverage a wide variety of data to triangulate and uncover entirely new business opportunities, such as new use cases and new segments to go after.

3/ Good PMMs understand that tracking metrics is important. Great PMMs also understand that not all metrics matter equally. They focus on metrics aligned with the most important objective of the company at a certain time and intentionally choose to ignore vanity metrics.

4/ Good PMMs create clear and value-focused messaging that is tied to the needs of the customer. Great PMMs not only do that but also create emotionally resonant messaging that compels action. They understand the keys to great copywriting.

5/ Good PMMs have a great grasp of the biggest competitors and how to win against them. Great PMMs understand all the competitive alternatives that get the same job done - in order to smartly position the product today for the future.

6/ Good PMMs can deliver a great launch from beginning to end. Great PMMs take the lessons learned from each launch to create repeatable launch processes that will enable the delivery of many great launches moving forward company-wide.

7/ Good PMMs deliver quality assets and training when asked by sales teams. Great PMMs anticipate the needs of sales by proactively analyzing sales data and calls to provide the most useful assets and training.

8/ Good PMMs add value to other teams and help out when necessary. Great PMMs exert great influence and are the “invisible” hand that adds strategic insights across each successful strategic project across the company.

9/ Good PMMs can explain the “what” behind each project to stakeholders. Great PMMs focus on explaining the “why” behind what they do and regularly take the opportunity to educate others in the company on product marketing.

10/ Good PMMs are focused on delivering high-quality deliverables. Great PMMs understand that it’s also important to get feedback quickly and progress > perfection - they take an iterative approach to get things done faster and with more input.

11/ Good PMMs are hard workers - they are diligent and are always busy. Great PMMs understand how to work smart, not just hard, and know when to push back and say no by intentionally managing stakeholder expectations.

12/ Good PMMs are focused on learning the best product marketing frameworks and principles. Gret PMMs understand the best frameworks can come from other disciplines. They actively learn about product development processes, sales best practices, and design thinking techniques to create a broad, diverse set of tools in their toolbox.

13/ Good PMMs do their best so they don’t get negative feedback by validating their idea with people they trust. Great PMMs understand that (constructive) negative feedback is important and pushback is good. They actively welcome such feedback and foster a culture of questioning the status quo.

14/ Good PMMs are trusted by leadership. Great PMMs empower and enable leaders to see their peers and the entire team - they also lift others up all around them.

15/ Good PMMs are focused on their career development - getting that next promotion and visibility. Great PMMs also understand what works for others may not work for them and are focused on creating an intentional career beyond promotions.

What can you do today to become a great PMM?

Becoming a great PMM is a challenging journey that requires time and effort. I've never encountered anyone who fulfills all the criteria on this list, or even most of them. So, consider this list as a compilation of the most crucial behaviors you can choose to focus on.

It's also important to recognize that the conditions necessary to grow to become a great PMM - a great work culture and a supportive, knowledgeable manager. If you don’t believe this exists at your place of work, it may be time to make a change.

And if you are inclined to make progress today, here are a few things you can do:

  1. Choose one item from the list above that resonates with you the most.

  2. Assess your current position in relation to that item and determine where you need to improve.

  3. Set the smallest, most achievable goal you can work on in a week.

  4. Dedicate yourself to achieving that goal in the upcoming week, and then repeat this process weekly.

If you put in the work and take small steps consistently, you will create tremendous career growth for yourself that will serve you in the long run.

Let me know how it goes!

And if you want more…

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