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Why every product team structure should include a product marketer
Is there a product marketer on your product team? If not, learn why including one in your product team structure is vital to product success.
Last updated14 Sep 2023
Reading time9 min
What does it take to develop a product customers will love now and forever? Simple—build an amazing product and continue to evolve it in the right direction.
Easier said than done, right?
What sets a brand with successful products apart from those that struggle to keep customers?
Often it's the efficiency of the product team.
Having product designers, researchers, and developers on your product team is necessary to create a functional product—but having a product marketer on your team is key. After all, the marketer connects your end product with the end user.
These days more companies are investing in product marketing teams, and 46% are setting aside up to $250,000 annually to fund them.
But to ensure success, they’ll need to create an efficient product team structure that includes a product marketer. Let's take a closer look at why this is essential.
Why add a product marketer to your product team structure?
A product marketer is an expert who understands both your products and your customers.
They understand what your customers demand, and can communicate that to your product team to ensure they're delivering the features that will benefit your customers the most.
Product marketers are the bridge between the customers and the product team. They ensure the needs of their target users are met and that funds go to features the market needs.
However, many organizations have separate marketing and product departments that don’t share information.
But when companies do bring product marketers and product teams together, they can expect the following results:
Ensuring ad (and development) dollars are spent on the right pain points
Every dollar spent is precious and needs to tie back to the return on investment (ROI). But this won't happen if the product team is shipping out features that don't connect to the pain points of your target customers.
By adding a marketer to your product team, you can focus on features you know your audience desires. This prevents wasting your budget, enhances customer satisfaction, and grows your competitive edge.
The product marketer's role is to guide the product team through positioning, messaging, and competitive differentiation. They connect expert product designers to their purpose—reducing pain points for consumers—rather than creating just to create.
Prioritizing the right features
When you understand your customers' needs, you can prioritize launching new features you know they'll purchase and use. But this is difficult when your marketing and product teams aren't working together.
If your product marketers and product team are siloed, then problems with prioritization will arise. To prevent this, integrate a marketer into your product team to align product development with the needs of your customers, and ensure there are more hits than misses.
Setting up product launches for success
Marketers spend their days analyzing customer data to learn their pain points, budgets, desires, and other buying behaviors. With all the data a product marketer gathers, your product team can plan launches that are more likely to be successful.
When a product launch goes well, it attracts the right customers—who may just turn into loyal, long-term fans.
When to add a product marketer to your product team?
Having a product marketer on your product team comes with incredible benefits. But when's the right time to bring one aboard? It depends on the budget and stage of your business, but a general rule of thumb is the earlier, the better.
Startups and small teams typically don’t hire a product marketer right off the bat. In the early stages, their primary focus is user acquisition—then, once an acquisition team is in place, they look for a product marketer. But instead of waiting to bring a product marketer aboard, you can do it right away.
When you bring in a product marketer early on, they can conduct audience research to ensure the product you’re launching is viable and likely to succeed. The cost of adding a product marketer to your product team is worth it if it saves you from a failed launch.
The same goes for mid-size and larger companies. Some may think their current setup is working fine without a product marketer on the product team. But if there's an opportunity to increase adoption of new product feature releases, you should definitely take it.
Improved product visibility and desirability are always goals—if you don’t yet have a product marketer to help you achieve them, it's not too late to bring one on.
How to structure a product team with a product marketer
There's no one way to structure a product team, but there are some great examples from tech companies that have divulged their own methods.
For example, the Spotify model is popularly known for its agile, people-driven autonomous approach. It consists of squads, tribes, chapters, guilds, trios, alliances, and a Chief Architect. Speaking of squads, if you’re on a marketing team and reading this, learn how marketing squads are making Hotjar more customer-centric.
There are also other ways to structure product teams by focusing on key aspects of the product, target audience, or collaboration style. For example, you can build your product teams based on any of the following:
Product or individual features: each product team focuses on specific features (ideal for complex products)
Customer persona or segment: the product team lasers in on specific personas to ensure each feature released addresses customer pain points (ideal for products with various personas or segments)
Cross-functional collaboration: multiple teams have a high level of autonomy to build specific features quickly (ideal for an agile company that's scaling fast, like Shopify or HubSpot)
Customer journey stage: the product team has a leader for each phase of the journey, guiding features for each stage (ideal for businesses with a clearly defined, linear customer journey map).
Performance metrics: each product team focuses on discovering and building features that achieve KPIs like acquisition or activation (ideal for companies with clear metrics/KPIs)
However you decide to structure your product team, here are six key roles to include:
Product manager: creates the product's vision, brings it to life, and communicates it to team members and stakeholders
Product developer: develops the product or feature on a roadmap, meeting the expectations and specifications of customers and product designers
Product analyst: ensures the product aligns with the business strategy and meets the needs and goals of stakeholders and customers
Product designer: conducts product research, brainstorms ideas, develops prototypes at each stage of physical or software development, and performs continuous iteration
UX designer: constructs a user interface that's intuitive and frustration-free for target customers
Product marketer: promotes the product, targeting customers to increase sales and customer loyalty
The big-picture idea is to create a cross-functional team that regularly collaborates to maintain alignment.
In a typical (non-ideal) scenario, designers and analysts report to the product manager, and the product marketer reports to the marketing manager. One report shows that over 61% of product marketers report to marketing, and only 16% report to product leaders. This organizational structure creates a disconnect because your product people aren't collaborating or getting up-to-date customer information from marketing, which makes it challenging to coordinate.
But it doesn't have to be this way. You can prioritize alignment between marketing and product teams by hosting joint meetings and adopting collaboration tools for better communication and data sharing.
What's the role of the product marketer on a product team?
According to the Product Marketing Alliance report, 92% of product marketers create product positioning and messaging for marketing campaigns. You'll also commonly find them handling other tasks, such as:
Managing marketing campaigns
Conducting customer research
Building content marketing campaigns
Creating customer personas
Determining marketing metrics to meet business goals
When integrated into a product marketing team, the product marketer also gets involved in daily operations, regularly communicating with the team about their findings to ensure the product's direction aligns with customer demand.
Let's review the integrated product marketer's responsibilities in the real world.
Developing a go-to-market plan
In the past, it was the product marketing team who would create the go-to-market strategy—but not anymore. This is now a topic for discussion with the product team, and together the two teams devise a plan.
This approach works because it begins with a shared brief that clarifies everything about the product, audience, and common goals. It acts as a roadmap to ensure alignment between marketing and product development, increasing the odds of success.
Ensuring what's on the roadmap is marketable
Adding a new tool to your product line because someone thought it would be cool isn't the best approach—it wastes time and money that could go to items proven to be a win using marketing research.
The marketer on your product team will know which features to prioritize based on market demand and customer research. They're on the front lines and can position a feature to be widely accepted by your target audience.
But this only happens if your marketer is included in meetings and product roadmap creation. Insights should be exchanged from the very beginning—marketers suggest features to include, and product developers explain the product so that marketers know how to present it to customers in a way that speaks to their unique needs.
Providing customer-centered data
Every feature added to a product should tie to a customer's pain point. If it doesn't, it shouldn't make the cut. One way to determine this is by using customer-centered data. And since product teams don't talk directly to customers, it's up to the product marketer to bring these insights to light.
Marketers can go into the field to capture customer feedback firsthand or observe customers using the product in real-time using a platform like Hotjar.
The goal is to identify how the customer uses the product. Are there roadblocks causing frustration? Or maybe the customer uses it differently than the product designer intended. Sharing this information regularly is vital to keeping the product up to date with customer expectations. The product development team can then pinpoint improvements to enhance the user experience.
Eliminate silos for better collaboration
The more your product marketer and product team work together, the better. It creates a collaborative culture and ensures everyone's on the same page.
Both product and marketing teams are after one goal: to increase business revenue. To do this, they must build better products and increase customer satisfaction. But they can't achieve this without teamwork. When everyone's siloed, product development will continue to miss the mark, hurting the company's bottom line and reputation.
Having a product marketer on your product team can ensure every launch is well-received by your target customers, improving sales and adoption rates. They are the missing key to making informed decisions for your product roadmap.
Hold regular meetings with your marketing and product teams to plan campaigns and generate new ideas. Use collaborative tools to discuss issues, concerns, and progress. For example, you can use software like Jira, Asana, or monday.com for project management, and Slack for fast communication.
If you're serious about building products customers enjoy, then having a product marketer on your product squad is non-negotiable.