Marketing Lessons for Product Managers in 2021

We’re big believers that product and marketing can be the best of friends. In fact, they should be! Product-led growth is proving to be one of the most effective marketing strategies for SaaS companies. While marketing isn’t one of the chief responsibilities for the Product Manager, it’s useful for PMs to keep an eye on marketing trends and find ways to integrate them during development.

PMs can learn a lot from digital marketers, and adding to this skillset can help you work more effectively with your product marketing team.

Conversational Marketing Is Still King

Even in B2B, conversational marketing is the place to be. According to Drift, 35% of customers in the B2B space felt that the marketing communications they were receiving felt impersonal, and 36% felt they couldn’t get a simple answer to simple questions.

What does this mean for your product marketing team? It means that you shouldn’t be afraid of keeping communication with your users conversational. That doesn’t mean you have to be cracking jokes and using slang. But it might be a good idea to take a look at things like your in-app microcopy and see opportunities to de-jargon it.

When gathering user feedback, applying conversational marketing principles can help you to get more responses to your surveys, and help users feel more comfortable sharing their opinions with you.

two man chatting white sitting on brown wooden chair

Videos Still Reign Supreme

If you’ve yet to bring video into your product marketing strategy, what are you doing?! It’s 2021! Video remains one of the most engaging and retention-driven content forms. It can help to drive brand awareness, community engagement, and is especially useful for user onboarding.

If you’ve been struggling with feature adoption, putting together some videos to show people exactly what they need to do can seriously help them to understand your product.

What’s becoming more and more popular, especially in the new learn-from-home era, is to provide education around your product. For example, Drift have their own video-based conversational marketing certifications, and Chartio have videos embedded into their product to help users learn how to navigate data visualization.

With plenty of low-cost options to outsource your video production, it’s not hard to add video to your digital strategy. Whether it’s a promotional video for your product launch, or something that’ll complement the in-app user experience. 

Marketing Needs a Seat at the Table

Product marketing is hugely important for growth. As much as we say that PMs are the voice of the customer, your marketing team are experts at reaching them. Working hand in hand with your product marketing manager from the very beginning will be a great way to introduce product-driven growth into your business strategy.

We’ve seen the same evolution with product design, which used to be something of an afterthought. “Here’s the product, now make it pretty.” In some companies, the same is still true of marketing. “Here’s the product, now market it.”

What happened with design, is that companies realized that integrating it from the beginning led to greater success. According to a report by InVision, companies who adopt design early on saw great product quality, operational efficiency, business profitability, and market position.

Marketing has always been there from the start, as its integral to finding product-market fit, an absolute must for any kind of success. In 2021, we may see marketing sitting beside design at the product development table, and having more influence over how the product is built.

Building marketing into the product is the quickest route to product-driven growth.

No-Code Is Here to Stay (For Now)

How often have your marketing teams had an idea for something cool and you’ve had to tell them that the engineers don’t have the time to help them with something like that.

Whether it’s a revolution or a fad, no code options allow marketing teams to build things for themselves, without having to use developers. In an agile product development environment, this is especially useful when you need to use few resources and do things as quickly as possible.

Need to put a quick survey together? No problem! Need a landing page for your latest eBook? Sorted! It’ll free up your engineers time and enable them to spend more time doing the things that only they can do…building a great product.

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Now is the Time to Try Virtual Events

Virtual events are nothing new, as remote work and distributed teams have been around for a while now. But they always felt a little sub-par. They were often in-lieu of in person events, with limited interactivity and were often missing a wow-factor.

But now, platforms like Hopin are seriously disrupting the online event space, allowing event attendees to experience more than just a live stream.

What this shows is that people are happy to attend online events. Depending on the space you’re in, this could be a great way to interact with users, and let your community flourish. Community-based marketing is another proven growth loop.

Check out: Product Managers Should Be Growth Hackers, And Here’s Why

Now is the Time to Take Risks

Perhaps mid-pandemic doesn’t feel like the best time to be taking risks. But if marketing in 2021 is going to work, it needs to be risky! When so many other businesses and pulling back and playing it safe, betting on the right thing can help separate you from the pack.

Getting ahead with your marketing is a great lean option to give your product strategy the boost in needs. As we’ve already mentioned, launching online events or investing in a few low-price no-code tools to empower your teams to try new things can give you an edge. But without having to take precious time away from the engineers.

Besides, what’s the worst thing that can happen if it fails? You learn from it!

What to Expect from Product Marketing in 2021

The experts expect to see a huge boom in Product Marketing which, as a Product Manager, you need to be aware of.

“I think 2020 was a huge awareness year for Product Marketing. A year where people really started to see the role as something critical and core to building a company. In the past, it was just nice to have a sales enablement role. 2021 will build on that. It’ll be a year in which more CMO’s build-out product marketing teams and the work, goals, and systems PMMs operate on will become standard and well understood.”

Marcus Andrews, Group Lead, Product Marketing at HubSpot (Via Product Marketing Alliance)

What we might see happening is marketing taking a larger slice of the pie that is a Product Manager’s time. To get ahead of the curve, PMs who come from a non-marketing background will need to keep up to date with things like SEO, marketing analytics, and general trends in Product Marketing.

Wondering where to get started? We have some great talks on our YouTube channel from Product Marketing experts!

If you’re interested in levelling up as a PM, join us over in Product School Pro!

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