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  • #04: PMM & Lifecycle = The Ultimate BFFs 👯‍♀️

#04: PMM & Lifecycle = The Ultimate BFFs 👯‍♀️

Half of my job title says “product marketing”. The other half says “lifecycle”. Apparently, this confuses people.

Dozens of readers have responded asking, “What do product marketing and lifecycle have in common? What does your job title even mean?”

Today, I’m going to share my perspective on why these two teams go together like a buttery chardonnay and a bowl of popcorn, and how you can start to leverage these commonalities in your own role as a PMM.

The Origin Story

In 2018, I led product marketing at a software company called FreshBooks. It was an accounting tool built for entrepreneurs, not accountants. Almost the entirety of our sales were generated through the self-serve trial signup flow on our website, and the focus of PMM was on product led growth, not enterprise sales.

My desk faced our superstar lifecycle marketer (oh hey, Sarah Klaassen 👋🏻), so inevitably our work became intertwined. I quickly realized that we had many shared goals: communicating value to customers, driving customer behaviours, and being the voice of customer internally.

What’s more, the two roles seemed to line up in a perfect Venn diagram. We had overlapping core skills, with complementary competencies that made each other stronger.

It was then that I started to ask myself, “how can I more closely connect customer lifecycle and product marketing to amplify their individual impacts”.

3 Reasons Lifecycle Fits with PMM

Selling software has changed. Product-led growth is having it’s moment, which means companies are prioritizing the user over the more traditional enterprise buyer. There is more focus on the customer than there’s ever been before.

Customer lifecycle marketing has emerged as a key role within these organizations. The lifecycle team is responsible for influencing customer behavior across the entire lifecycle - ensuring success for the customer in each stage, and progressing them to the next. They’re often also leading, or at least highly influential in, ongoing product adoption programs.

It’s my belief that embedding lifecycle marketing (or customer marketing, as it’s sometimes referred to), within PMM accelerates go-to-market activities and streamlines customer strategy. Here’s why:

  1. Segmentation is the heart of product marketing

    An effective product marketer understands their target market. They can speak to who their best customer is - for the product overall, as well as for specific features. They have an intimate view of the customer, which in turn, helps to power effective customer marketing.

    When lifecycle and PMM sit together, they can provide each other with the right inputs and outputs to evolve their shared understanding of the customer.

  2. PMM connects the entire customer journey

    Product marketing enables a wide variety of teams and builds business strategies across the entire funnel. As a result, PMM knows why customers choose the product initially, which alternatives they considered, how to motivate customers to adopt the product, which features have higher adoption, and so on.

    These insights allow PMM to help shape data-informed, end-to-end lifecycle strategies. When the lifecycle team sits with PMM, they have full access to these customer insights and strategies. The result? Campaigns and programs that drive impact for customers and the business.

  3. Product launch requires iteration

    Product launch isn’t just a one-day event. It’s a continuous and iterative process that requires experimentation and refinement . How do you introduce the product slowly to customers (with prototypes, alphas and betas)? How do you test positioning and messaging early so you can feel confident at launch?

    The lifecycle team is critical to PMM’s ability to test, iterate and optimize their launch. The team can help test initial value props in emails and in-app messages before putting on the website. They can work with CS teams to test scripts and 1:1 communications. They can handhold alpha and beta participants to collect product feedback and testimonials. And they can increase product adoption with segmented launch campaigns.

    I call this the “rolling thunder” approach, and it significantly increases the chances of a successful product launch.

I could go on ad nauseam about the reasons these two teams belong together. Trust me, I could get this list to 50 reasons, at least. For now, I’ll just say there is true magic that unfolds when these two functions are combined.

Unlocking the Magic

In my experience, it’s still critical to have two separate, well-defined roles. I’m not advocating for a PMM to take more onto their plate.

At Unbounce, I led a department called Strategic Growth, which encompassed three core functions: product marketing, lifecycle and strategic partnerships. Each team had their own leader and mandate, but we had shared OKRs and rhythms of business (ie. weekly team meeting).

At Kajabi, my team is more integrated, but the roles are still discrete. You’re either a lifecycle marketer, or you’re a product marketer.

So, what is each role actually responsible for? What are the skillsets that set the two roles apart? How do I hire for each, and when do I move people between teams?

I’ll cover these practical questions and more in next week’s edition.