Product marketing job descriptions can vary significantly from one company to the next… and sometimes even seem like they vary from one day to the next. That’s because product marketers wear many hats and are constantly going between radically different tasks and stakeholders. From crafting messaging in one moment to analyzing product usage data the next to demoing the latest product feature on a sales call a moment later, product marketers serve many internal and external customers in very different ways.
So how is a product marketer supposed to prioritize their time when the list of to do’s will never fit into the day? Here are five strategies for focusing on what matters most - and a few tips for making time for it.
Prioritize What Impacts Your Goals
How are you measured in your role? Product Marketing is notoriously hard to measure, but there are numerous metrics, both quantitative and qualitative, that can be used for measuring a product marketer’s work. So if you fast forward to your next performance review, what numbers will your boss look at? Find the projects that will impact those numbers first and foremost. After all, goals and metrics are there to incentivize desired behaviors and outcomes.
Optimize for Short-Term Impact
What will have the greatest impact on the company today? Many product marketing tasks are focused on the long term, but having short term wins can be very helpful. They allow you to have a meaningful and visible impact on the company, but also give you more flexibility to work on the less visible things that are just as important. Short-term focused priorities may include helping a sales rep close a head-to-head competitive deal or running a customer campaign to build interest in an add-on product.
Focus on Long-Term Company Success
Of course, we want to have a lasting impact on the company, and many product marketing initiatives are focused on that long-term success. Longer term initiatives like revamped messaging or competitive product analyses are critical to positioning the company for success and are bigger than one sales call or one customer.
Align with Executive Priorities
What are the company’s key initiatives at the executive level? This can help guide where you focus and set you up to have greater alignment with every department. This, of course, also sets you up to get greater reception of your work at the executive level, and not spin your wheels on efforts that won’t be perceived as important. When aligning with executive priorities, there is no such thing as looking “too far up” the ladder - consider what the CEO or even board communicates at company meetings or earnings calls, focusing on what initiatives they are pushing forward in the coming quarter.
Get the Greatest Bang for Your Buck
Not all high priority tasks take an extended amount of time, and not all arduous tasks have a big impact. When prioritizing your scarce time, think about where you can get the greatest bang for your buck in time spent. An hour on one initiative for the VP Sales may be more impactful than a three-month product launch for an unused feature.
OK, so now you have strategies for finding what to prioritize… but that’s still a lot of priorities! How do you go about actually balancing time spent across even a small handful of initiatives? Here are a few tips:
- Set aside time blocks: When you need to focus on a task, setting time blocks on your calendar can give you the time you need to dig in. Blocking it on your calendar like a meeting can keep others from interrupting you during that time.
- Track your time: Interruptions may be a necessary part of the job, but they are still a distraction and detract from productivity. If you’re prone to interruptions, start by simply tracking where you spend your time. Track the interruptions, track how long a task takes, and even compare that to what you expected in terms of time allocated. This awareness can be hugely helpful in planning your days and weeks.
- Communicate your commitments: Transparent communication about what you are committing to do in a particular time frame (e.g. month, quarter) can be helpful in navigating many stakeholders. This communication can give others awareness of where you’re spending your time so that their requests can be put into context, and hopefully keep you focused on your priorities.
- Timebox ongoing tasks: Some tasks, like sales support, are more ongoing rather than having a clear start and finish. You could spend all day supporting sales on calls or creating collateral, so set guideposts around how much time you’ll spend on these tasks. Communicating these time boxes can also help set expectations with various stakeholders.
There’s always more to do in product marketing than we have time in the day - and that’s a good thing. There’s incredible demand from the company and a variety of ways product marketing can have an impact. But prioritizing those different initiatives and making time for what matters most is what will allow product marketers to actually realize that impact. Prioritizing the right product marketing initiatives can fuel greater company impact and accelerated career development.
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