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You can’t do product marketing without product

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In a recent discussion I was shocked by a claim made by a product marketing manager:

"Product marketing in B2B is harder than B2C because we can’t use the product."

That’s crap.

Yes, I agree it is hard to market products that you don’t understand. But why don’t you?

You simply can’t do product marketing without knowing the product.You simply can’t do product marketing without knowing the product. [Tweet this]

In my free ebook, I describe four types of expertise: product, market, business, and domain. It’s often hard to find someone who is already expert in all four areas but each can be learned.

My advice to new product managers and product marketing managers is to spend time with customers observing your product being used.

Many marketing teams are staffed with program expertise; they know how to manage marketing campaigns and work with agencies. They don’t know the products or the market or the domain—so how can they possibly market the product? Answer: they rely on product management for all content. Positioning, messaging, venues for promotion, conference presentations—all come from product management. As far as I can tell, what they do is project management of marketing programs. (Oh, yes, and "branding." Don’t get me started.)

One product marketing manager admitted he didn’t know his product—in fact, had never even seen his product. It was a business-to-business conferencing tool. How could he NOT use this? Is it laziness? Or have marketing people convinced themselves that product knowledge is somehow beneath them?

I’m working with a team to define titles and responsibilities. My trick is to change the term “manager” for “expert.” A product marketing expert would be expert in both marketing and products. Without product knowledge, this title would be marketing manager, not product marketing manager.

By the way, employees (and departments) who lack knowledge about the company’s products and domain are easily outsourced. It’s true for development; it’s true for marketing.

Look at your job titles. You shouldn’t put ‘product’ in a title without requiring product expertise.

Titles, roles, and responsibilities are critical to your product playbook—a collection of workshops, tools, and templates to ensure your team is systematic in their methods and consistent in their deliverables. Learn more at

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