A day in the life of a PMM
Inside look at the job of a Salesforce PMM, including key deliverables, meetings and strategies to keep learning
Al Dea, Sr. PMM at Salesforce, ex-Deloitte DigitalPublished: November 10, 2020
At some point, you’ve probably wondered to yourself, what’s it like to actually be a product marketer? You may have even Googled “A day in the life of a product marketer.” If this is you, know that you are not alone.
Once upon a time, I did this myself when I was trying to break into product marketing. Now, as a PMM and someone who helps professionals transition into PMM careers, I’ve learned a thing or two, and let me help by walking you through what my day looks like.
As you may know, PMM can look slightly different company to company. For example, as a PMM at a B2B Software company that sells software to IT executives, I work a lot with sales teams and sales reps, and that might look different at a B2C consumer app that targets consumers 18-34 in major metropolitan cities who want to order food takeout and delivery services and spends their time on identifying the marketing channels they want to target or a national PR campaign.
💡 Tip: The key take away is it’s important to research and study the companies that you are interested in to learn what PMM looks like at their specific company, and on the specific product. Because lots of variance exists!
A typical day in the life
PMM is a highly visible role, fast-paced environment and constantly on the go. As it’s been said before, it’s cross functional by nature, which dictates a lot of how the day is spent. Let’s take a look at a few key parts of the day:
- Meetings – There are several types of meetings, but the key point is much of the work involves working cross functionally toward a shared goal.
- Deliverables and outputs – This is all about producing marketing output (ex: creating a deck, writing a blogpost, building a messaging guide).
- Learning – This is about gathering knowledge and insight, about your product, your customer, or the market, so that you can produce better outputs, or sound more informed in meetings.
Let’s walk through a detailed description of four different common meeting types (alignment, work review, brainstorming, insight gathering) below:
Alignment Meeting: Sales Enablement Program
Next week, I am doing a sales enablement training for our inside sales team, and I met with both a solution architect (a product subject matter expert) as well as the head of the inside sales team to talk about the content that we are going to review during the training.
There are two goals to a meeting like this. First, this meeting is for me to understand from the solution architect the types of information I need to be presenting. Second, is for myself and sales lead to align around the objectives that she wants her inside sales reps to achieve from the training. The feedback from the last enablement session was that the reps needed more specifics around use cases, so one of the items we discussed was including more real-world examples of how the product is used by our customers. After the meeting, I will update the materials (a deck, as well as a Google doc) and then iterate on it with feedback from the sales team manager up until the launch date.
Review Meetings: Creative asset review
I am working on another project which is going to result in a set of assets that we are going to put on our website. This includes updated copy for the page, customer testimonials along with the customer image that we are going to feature, and a 5 page ebook. In this meeting, I am speaking with the creative team to review the latest look and feel of the layout of the ebook, including the visuals, color scheme, and use of text and large quotations of customers for the ebook that we are creating.
In this meeting, my role is to provide feedback on what I think will resonate best with the audience. Here, I am the key decision maker, and my goal here is to ensure that I am using good judgment with the creative team on the direction of the asset, and also to make a timely decision so I don’t slow them down in the creation process.
Brainstorm Meeting: Campaigns Meeting
Later on in the day, I met with our campaigns team, which is responsible for running marketing campaigns that drive demand for our products. Their key metric is focused on what we call a marketing generated pipeline, which they achieve by running marketing campaigns across numerous channels such as web, social, sales teams, and e-mail to attract prospects who might be interested in our products. During this meeting, since we do our planning for the next quarter in advance, we also spend time thinking about what we are going to do for the next quarter, and I provide some ideas on some of the overarching themes for the campaigns – in this case, we’re debating how we evolve our campaigns as a result of the changing narrative around COVID-19. I also share some examples of some new customers that we hope to feature in next quarter’s campaigns.
Insight Gathering Meeting: Sales Team
As a PMM, part of your job is to tell stories using data, insights and information. This means coming up with a narrative around a topic, and then presenting it in a compelling form. However, no narrative comes from just your creativity, it’s grounded in research, customer insights, or data.
Part of my job is to find that information so I can build the story that I want to tell, and a lot of that comes from meeting with key stakeholders to gather the insight I need to tell the story. Here are a few examples.
Oftentimes, I’ll meet to get feedback or insights from our sales teams, about what they are seeing in the market, or recent wins/losses from deals they’ve had this quarter. These insights fuel my thinking and my decision making. If you are in a B2B enterprise environment, having close relationships with sales is often a key pillar for success. In this meeting, we’re showing them an updating messaging guide which has new messaging around this concept of “speed,” – as a result of COVID-19, companies have had to adapt quickly, and we’re weaving in messaging on how our product helps companies serve customers faster and more efficiently.
Amidst the onslaught of meetings, you’ll likely have to block off time to simply get your work done.
That sounds silly, but anyone who has a lot of meetings hopefully can appreciate this – you can easily wind up with meetings all day, so without blocking time to work on something like presenting, or reviewing data, it can be hard to get anything accomplished outside of just going to meetings and responding to email.
I’m a big fan of the Eisenhower Matrix to prioritize, but regardless, I try to block time each day to make sure I can work on specific deliverables. In this case, the two deliverables I am working on are:
- Objection handling document for a new product launch – The goal of this document is to train our sales teams on how to handle objections they get when they speak to customers. For example, the document has key answers to questions/objections that we anticipate, such as, “I’m concerned about the price” (focus on value and how the product helps the customer achieve their desired outcome faster). With this document, they will be able to overcome these objections to get to a successful outcome.
- Training and enablement deck for inside sales teams – As the “product expert,” one of my jobs is to train and coach our inside sales team (business development reps) on how to position our products to customers. I have an upcoming training for the inside sales team, and I need to create the deck I am going to use to train them on the new product. Pro Tip: If you are in a role that requires sales enablement or training, spend some time learning from teachers – I am constantly looking for innovative ways to teach people and some of my teacher friends have given me great ideas!
Examples of outputs
So if you aren’t building the product, what do PMMs actually create? Here are a few examples of the “deliverables” or “outputs” that I might work on.
- Powerpoint Decks: Like many PMMs, I build a lot of decks! There are lots of these
- External decks – presenting a webinar with a customer, or presenting to a customer in an external virtual environment
- Internal decks for cross functional projects – These can be status updates, timelines, etc., as well as just sharing and reporting out on the work we are doing so that others can see and provide feedback
- POV deck – These are often the precursor to an external asset, or perhaps a big internal presentation, but usually are in more of a storytelling format
- Research and insight or data driven decks- These tend to be more data heavy, and quite frankly a little ugly! That said, there is usually a summary slide or two, and then an appendix for more of a detailed drill down on whatever we are analyzing, such as sales data from last quarter.
- Internal documents for stakeholders: Oftentimes these are Google docs which have information around product messaging that is then used either to fuel the creation of another piece of content or an asset (ex: a presentation for a customer, email to a customer, etc.) or a template of sorts that is then used by a stakeholder to achieve a goal.
- External assets: Creating blogs, whitepapers, ebooks, or other types of assets that are used with customers or through other digital channels (ex: company website, lead forms, etc)
Learning and research
One of the hardest things that I’ve had is that PMMs won’t always be the expert in everything that they do. You need to know the product very well, but you’re not building it with engineers. You need to know how to sell and position products to customers and listen to their pain points, but you aren’t sitting in front of the buyer handling their objections. Since you are in a cross functional role and support many functions, your knowledge and skills need to be incredibly broad, which makes it hard to be an expert in every single thing. This is difficult at times for me, especially coming from being a management consultant where you were literally paid to be the expert!
While you aren’t the expert, that doesn’t mean that A) you shouldn’t be pushing yourself to learn and B) that you don’t have responsibilities. Part of my day is dedicated to research or learning, whether it’s digging deeper into understanding the product with my product managers or solution engineers, learning more about the end user through interviews with our customers, or meeting with other product marketers either to get feedback on something that I am working on, or ask for guidance on how to complete something.
One of the perks of working at a big company is that there are lots of really smart people – anytime you want to learn something you just have to find the right expert!
Today, I’m trying to learn more about a new product that we’ve just been asked to do marketing for. Since this product is aimed at a different user and buyer than I am accustomed to (a customer service leader, and customer service agents), I need to better understand why buyers of this product use the product and how it helps them in their day jobs, so when I create the messaging I can speak their language. To do this, I’m taking a very short product training, and speaking to one of our experts who has implemented this product hundreds of times. The beauty of being a PMM is that there is so much you can learn!
While each PMM role is different, hopefully this gave you insight into what a Product Marketing role could look like for you. For me, the pace, as well as the diverse types of projects and responsibilities that you get as a PMM are what make it interesting and exciting, as is the opportunity to work so closely with so many different stakeholders. Finally, there are so many challenges that product marketers can face, I always feel like there is more to learn!