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Three Strategies for Product Marketers to Gain Influence

Product marketers sit at the intersection of every team in the organization - between Marketing, Product, Sales, Services, and Executive Leadership. They affect, and are affected by, every area of the business. Yet despite their wide-reaching role, product marketers rely on influence, rather than authority, to get their critical tasks done. How can a product marketer gain the influence they need to be effective? Here are three key strategies product marketers can use to have the impact they desire.

1. Know Your Internal Personas

Product marketers are persona experts, but that often is focused on buyer and user personas. It’s just as critical to understand your internal personas - your stakeholders across sales, marketing, product, and executive leadership. Knowing your personas means understanding who they are, what they care about, what their day-to-day circumstances are like, and how you can best provide value to them.

First, identify each of your key stakeholders. Then, get to know them - learn about their roles, their priorities, how they’re measured, and what their challenges are. Use these interviews to both develop your personas and establish a personal connection. Developing full persona profiles may be a helpful exercise to put your knowledge down on paper and share your lessons with others on the product marketing team. Ultimately, this should help you build empathy for your stakeholders, get an understanding of their priorities, and allow you to align your work with what they value most.

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2. Build Your Personal Brand

“A great product sells itself” is a great business myth that applies to people just as much as it applies to products. Even if a marketer has incredible skills and experience, they need to get visibility in order for others to know about it.

Before you start going on your internal press circuit, figure out what your strengths are and what you want to be known for. This personal branding exercise will be helpful as you expand your connections internally. Then it’s time to show (not tell) those skills. Want to be the go-to for customer usage analysis? Pull some customer usage data and put together a killer analytical presentation. Want to be the go-to for analyst relations? Pull together a rock-solid plan of action around which analysts to contact, what they’re working on, and how to do an effective briefing. This is how you build up your positive reputation in the organization to have the influence you need.

3. Leverage the Internal Currency

What is your company’s internal currency? Is it data? Is it customer feedback? Is it crazy product ideas? Every company and every leadership team has something that they rely on to make decisions. Recognizing and leveraging this internal currency is key to getting your message heard and respected.

Say your company’s internal currency is data - decisions are made by looking at data, and anyone who brings forth data will be viewed equally, regardless of who brings it to the table. In this scenario, if you want to make the case for a new customer meetup initiative, bring historical data that shows how customer events have positively impacted revenue or retention. Or if you want to change the company’s tagline, run a set of ads to gather data on which taglines deliver the best engagement. Once again, understanding what your personas value and how they make decisions is a key step in effectively influencing the organization.

These strategies may be simple, but they aren’t easy. Empathizing with your internal personas takes effort, humility, and understanding. Building your personal brand requires retrospection and hard work. And leveraging the internal currency may take you out of your comfort zone and require learning new skills. But leveraging each of these strategies together should significantly impact a product marketer’s ability to turn their ideas into reality through the many teams they influence across their organization. 

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Ellie Mirman
Ellie Mirman, a Crayon alum, is currently CMO at Mulberry, the consumer-first product protection platform. Previously, she was VP of Marketing at Toast, where she built and led the marketing function across demand gen, content marketing, product marketing, branding, and customer advocacy. Ellie also held multiple marketing leadership positions at HubSpot during its growth from 100 customers to IPO. She loves working at the intersection between marketing, sales, and product, and building marketing from startup to scale-up.