I’ve never really been a classical music fan but the conductor fascinates me. And when I think about the role of the product marketing leader, it’s kind of like being the conductor of an orchestra.
Yeah, I know, I hate metaphors too! Just hang in there with me for a few minutes. You’ll see what I mean. It won’t be that bad!
Product marketers are involved in all stages of the buyer journey, from awareness through decision. In the early stages, the emphasis is on content marketing and digital interactions that educate and inform prospective buyers. In the later stages, they help their sales team connect the dots between the buyer’s needs and the company’s offerings. They are responsible for orchestrating the buyer journey from awareness through decision and telling a compelling story.
Here are five attributes that product marketing leaders have in common with symphony conductors.
1 – They establish a tempo and rhythm. “The whole duty of a conductor is comprised in his ability always to indicate the right tempo,” said Richard Wagner, a conductor as well as composer. The conductor sets the tempo and controls it thereafter. They keep an ensemble of sometimes over a hundred individuals together.
Product marketers are responsible for doing the same. Content educates, informs, and motivates a prospective buyer to take a meeting with sales. Sales enablement provides the tools necessary to move the buyer to a sale. If you rush the buyer too quickly, they will feel pressured and exit the funnel. Too slow, and you might lose the opportunity to a competitor.
Product marketing leaders need to truly understand the buyer journey and map out the best mix of digital and human interactions to move the prospective buyer to a sale.
2 – They interpret and communicate other’s work. The conductor brings a musical score to life, communicating their own interpretation of the score through gestures.
Product marketing leaders have a similar challenge. They are responsible for communicating value to buyers in simple, easy to understand language that resonates with the audience. Overly technical language can distract and disorient the audience. It’s their job to keep the audience engaged with a variety of value messages at each phase of the buyer journey that resonates, excites, and in some cases, inspires an emotional response that triggers a positive outcome.
3 – They are amazing listeners. “The best conductors are the best listeners”, says Tom Service, the broadcaster, journalist and author of the fascinating study Music As Alchemy: Journeys with Great Conductors and their Orchestras. “They become a lightening rod of listening; a focus so that the players and the conductor can become something bigger than all of them – than all of us – at the same time as feeling fully realized as individuals.”
Um, yeah…..I think this say it well! Product marketers have to be great at listening to customers, sales professionals, field service personnel, digital marketers, and many more. They look for patterns in the feedback and respond quickly with updates. Go to market plans are never perfect. The listeners know how to deliver success, fast.
4 – They lead. An orchestra is usually made up of individuals from a variety of backgrounds that are confident in their talents and capabilities. But they cannot attain as individuals what an orchestra can accomplish when provided a collective focus and direction.
Businesses are not much different. Digital marketing, field marketing, sales, service, product management, etc. will accomplish less as individuals than they would when led and provided direction by a product marketer confident in the needs of the customer.
5 – They are master storytellers. Conductors don’t master one particular instrument. Their job is much tougher than that. “Conducting is more difficult than playing a single instrument,” says Pierre Boulez, a legendary composer-conductor. “You have to know the culture, to know the score, and to project what you want to hear.”
Product marketers spend a lot of their time trying to understand their target buyers, the company they work for, and their priorities. They also spend time understanding their offerings and how to position the value. They dig into the history, the people, the challenges, the opportunities, and figure out how to tell their story with content.
Ok, you made it! End of metaphor! Hopefully it wasn’t too much of a stretch.
Product marketing leaders have a unique role in their company. They provide the bridge between product, sales, and marketing. And they tell a story with their content across each phase of the buyer journey to a decision.
Are you a product marketer? I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts.