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​A new way to define what is product marketing

A few weeks ago I posted that product marketing is truly a connector role. It launches products to the market, enables sales, and partners with marketing to drive revenue.

The Traditional View of Product Marketing

This is why it’s typically represented by the widely adopted Venn diagram showing it sitting at the center of the three functions:

A venn diagram showing product marketing at the intersecton of sales, marketing, and product
What people think product marketing is

The Shortcomings of the Traditional View

While this framing is initially helpful, I believe it has several shortcomings:

1. It’s a me-centric point of view

I can safely say other functions, especially product management, also think they sit at the center. This me-centric view unnecessarily creates ego and territoriality.

2. Misconception that PMMs have tons of ownership

The most common reason I have heard why aspiring PMMs want to move into the field is that they want to have tons of ownership. In reality, PMMs have the LEAST ownership compared to other functions, and instead, have to influence without authority.

3. It overlooks other key areas in the business

For instance, customer success and customer support often get ignored, as well as engineering and Ops roles. The fact is there are many other teams not represented in the diagram which are equally important to business success.

Rethinking What Is Product Marketing: The Interconnected Web

Instead, product marketing should be represented more as an interconnected web:

Product Marketing as an interconnected web
What Product Marketing actually is

In this web view, every function has an equally important part to play in the success of the company. In addition, holding this view shifts the mindset of PMMs from “How can I make myself look good” to “How can I help other teams look good”.

Building Stronger Connections Across Teams

It also encourages PMMs to see beyond their bubble and genuinely helps connect with other teams. For instance, one of the proudest things I did in my career was connecting Customer Success with Product to better influence the roadmap and communicate features to customers - which helped both teams reach their goals.

Practical Implications for PMMs

So how does this affect your job as a PMM?

Here are a few practical tips you can apply to your job today:

  • Recreate the web diagram for your specific role. Chances are the functions at your company may look a bit different. Draw it to represent the key functions within your company.

  • Select and prioritize a few relationships to focus on. Instead of focusing on every line in the diagram, pick 2-3 to focus on based on the key objectives of your company.

  • Brainstorm 1 way to add value to those relationships you picked. If you notice any gaps in those relationships, this is a great time to start closing the gap and think about 1 way you can immediately add value.

At the end of the day, when PMMs enable other teams, they will naturally become an invaluable part of every company and act as the true connector.

This view is messier, but I believe it’s more accurate.

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