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Help Focus Your Product Marketing Career with these 4 Product Lifecycle Stages

Navigating the Stages of Product Lifecycle for a Dynamic Product Marketing Career

All products go through a product lifecycle.

As a PMM, your role and focus can drastically differ by-product lifecycle stage, which can, in turn, affect your product marketing career and path.

Specifically, this is how product marketing can differ by product lifecycle phase:

A bell curve showing the rise and decline of sales by phase and the focus of product marketing
How Product Marketing differs by lifecycle stage

🌱 Introduction phase:

This is where the product is initially introduced to the market. There is a lot of excitement for potentially disrupting a category or new ways to solve old problems.

At this stage, a true 0-1 product marketer is needed to validate product/market fit, message/market fit, and plan and execute full GTMs to drive product awareness.

When I was a 0-1 product marketer at a Series A startup, I created the first product launch process and spoke at length with customers to validate the message/market fit and refine our ICP.

🌿 Growth phase:

You are looking at a mid-late stage startup doubling revenue each year and more. The goal at this stage is to penetrate the market as fast as possible.

This means the PMM needs to split time between launching new features and scaling sales enablement. They also need to support major marketing promotional campaigns. Overall, there will be a shift towards more campaigns vs. new product launches.

When I was at a growth stage startup, 50% of my time was spent scaling sales enablement to support AEs across 10+ regions as we needed to win more deals, faster.

🌳 Maturity phase:

This is the phase where growth slows, and where the product is generally ubiquitous in the mind of the target customer. At this point, there likely are many other competitors in the market, so the goal is to grow and maintain market share.

The PMM can focus on pricing/packaging to optimize revenue from existing customers and collaborate with the rest of the marketing team on brand refresh and competitive-focused campaigns to increase brand loyalty and take market share.

When I was on AutoCAD - a 40-year-old product, my efforts were focused on global campaigns to establish our leadership position, attract a new generation of customers, and help avoid customers going to copycats.

🍂 Decline phase:

At this phase, the product is in decline, with many similar products on the market. It’s also likely the company already has a broader product portfolio with newer products that are in the growth stage.

The goal of a PMM at this stage is to continue maximizing profitability by squeezing $ from late adopters (e.g. developing regions) and promoting the entire product portfolio to upsell or cross-sell customers to newer products.

For instance, at Autodesk, AutoCAD is bundled with newer products like Revit to drive up sales and prolong its usage.


Crafting Your Unique Product Marketing Career Path

I believe in building a strong and long-lasting career path that builds a diversity of experiences across all stages of the product lifecycle, but what works for each individual should be based on their specific strengths, values, and goals.

So how does this affect you?

1. If you are looking for a new job, think about what stage of the company would better fit your skills and interests right now.

2. If you are currently working, think about new strategies most aligned with the stage of your product’s growth, and how you can prolong it.

If you are looking for guidance to gain more clarity on which growth stage fits you best in a job search, or how to take more control of your career, please contact me and I would love to see how I can help.

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