#77: Two Truths & A Lie

What the McKinsey article got right, and wrong, about product marketing

Much has been said about the new McKinsey article on product marketing. Some love it, others hate it.

As for me, I’m somewhere between the two.

I’m happy product marketing is gaining more recognition, but I worry about some of the claims being made about the role (it could set us back).

For today’s edition, I want to break down where I think they got it right, and where it went off course. Plus, how you can apply this data in your own role today.

Let’s get into it.

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Two Truths & A Lie

Truth: Higher PMM to PM ratios lead to better results

McKinsey found that companies with the highest revenue growth not only had a formalized PMM function, but a 25%+ higher ratio of PMMs to product managers. On average, these companies had one PMM for every 1.6 PMs.

This ratio is significantly better than the 1:3 average reported in the 2023 State of Product Marketing Report. In reality, many of the PMMs I talk to are facing a more realistic ratio of 1:5 or more.

Hopefully this new McKinsey data connecting ratio back to performance will give PMMs the ammo they need to champion for better ratios within their own companies.

Truth: PMMs are translators between product development and GTM team

The article correctly asserts that product marketers sit at the intersection of commercial organizations.

Product marketing is the glue that keeps the product, the market, and the customer together.

Goksu Nebol-Perlman (VP of business product marketing at Meta)

I like how the report positions PMMs in the middle of a hub and spoke model rather than in the usual Venn diagram we’ve seen before. I think this does a better job of articulating the variety of teams we engage with on a regular basis.

Naturally, I think there will be many nuances to this depending on the company size and go-to-market motion, but this is a good starting point for a conversation.

Lie: PMMs should fully own brand awareness, digital advertising and lead generation

No offense, but I think McKinsey completely lost the plot when they got to the responsibility portion of the report. And, I’m worried this will undo much of the hard work we’ve done the past few years to position PMM as a strategic function.

By this point, I think we all agree that product marketing is a blend of strategy and execution. But, product marketers are not channel owners, and thus should not be seen as the full owners of brand awareness, advertising and lead gen.

Not only does this not align to our skillset, but the added responsibilities spread us too thin to be effective in the areas of the business we can impact the most.

I’m curious, how did the article land with you? Hit reply and send me your thoughts.


📚 Reading List: Read the full McKinsey article “The growing importance of software product marketing managers”.

📚 Reading List: Anthony Pierri had a great LinkedIn post about the 9 positioning options based on market maturity. It’s a quick but helpful read.

Until next week,

Tamara Grominsky

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