Are you doing marketing or Marketing?

Seventh Seal

Very interesting post here from the start of this year, from Joshua Duncan:

In it, Joshua describes how the role of Product Marketing Manager (PMM) is, essentially, moribund – not because the work done by these people isn’t required, but because these activities are rapidly being taken up by other individuals (Product Managers, MarComms etc), leaving PMMs with little left to do.

To be fair, what he says at the end is – you’re not going to survive if you’re an average product marketer, because a lot of the day job will be done by others, so you’d better get very good at some part of the role.

It’s nice to see some great comments at the bottom of the post (rather than the usual trolling!). And it is a very thought-provoking article. However, for me (or at least for the place where I work) the flaw is the difference between what I think is marketing, small-‘m’ and Marketing, big-‘M’.

If the marketing function at your organisation consists of, basically, a few website updates, a bit of Adwords, check your SEO now and again, knock up some flyers for the trade-show, some banner ads and landing pages, may be even a few blogs now and again, then I can see Joshua’s point – a product manager covers the product strategy (and so doesn’t need any input from marketing-types) and the marcomms team (whether internal or external) can write the copy, produce the website and flyers and so on. And I think this would cover pretty much everything you need to keep the marketing juggernaut going. But I call this small-‘m’ marketing – it’s all necessary work (if you’re not on top of your Adwords and SEO, for example, then you’re just throwing opportunities away), but how much value is a PMM really adding to this? If the product manager is on top of the product strategy, users and benefits, and marcomms are looking after copy?

Where I think PMMs can really add value is doing proper big-‘M’ Marketing. And by ‘value’ I mean revenue. The sorts of things I’d classify as big-‘M’ Marketing are:

  1. New markets. Sure, your existing customers see every new product new release, but what about the stack of potential customers who know nothing about you? Or would never consider using you? If you currently sell exclusively to tier 1 banks, how are you going to reach tier 2 banks? Or how are you going to reach the government sector, where you’ve never had any luck before? Or Brazil!?
  2. New business models. If you’ve always sold a perpetual license before, how are you going to start selling on a monthly subscription? Are these the same people? How are you going to change your offering to suit?
  3. Turning a product in to a proposition. You have a great product, but what needs to be added to turn it in to an attractive proposition? Support contracts? Professional services? What?
  4. How do customers perceive your product range as a whole? Does it make sense, all together?

And so on – for me, these are the reasons why marketing is so interesting and so difficult. And, more importantly, where you can make a significant impact on revenue. I didn’t get in to marketing to figure out whether banner ads at the top of the page are better value-for-money than the bottom of the page, but to try and figure out ways to make a significant difference to revenue by doing strategic Marketing, not marketing.

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