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#78: Inbound vs Outbound PMM

Understanding the dual roles of product marketing

I first heard the term “inbound product marketing” from a PMM at TikTok.

Turns out, it’s a common way to contrast product marketing responsibilities within larger companies like Meta and Amazon.

There are many ways to divide up PMM work — by product line, solution set, market, etc. This is just one more option.

But, it’s also an interesting way to explain responsibilities within one PMM’s portfolio too. The reality is that at most startups and scaleups, one product marketer is accountable for both inbound and outbound strategies.

In today’s edition, I’ll cover what I’ve learnt about the breakdown of the two responsibility sets.

Let’s get into it.

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Inbound vs Outbound Product Marketing

First things first: when I say inbound and outbound, I do not mean the go-to-market motion. Instead, it’s the dividing point between developing the product strategy/roadmap and bringing the product to market.

Inbound Product Marketing

Inbound PMMs primarily focus on understanding the market, customers, and competitive landscape to help influence product strategy and roadmap development. Their responsibilities include:

  1. Market Research: Conducting extensive market research to identify trends, customer needs, and potential opportunities. This involves analyzing market data, conducting surveys, and engaging in customer interviews.

  2. Customer Insights: Gathering and synthesizing customer feedback to understand pain points, preferences, motivations, and behaviors. They use this information to create detailed buyer personas and customer journey maps.

  3. Competitive Analysis: Monitoring and analyzing competitors’ products, strategies, and market positioning to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

  4. Internal Advocacy: Bringing insights into the organization to inform product development, positioning, and messaging. They work closely with product management, sales, and exec teams to ensure that customer and market insights are integrated into decision-making processes.

  5. Strategy Development: Assisting in the development of go-to-market strategies based on insights gathered. This involves defining target markets, value propositions, and key differentiators.

Outbound Product Marketing

Outbound PMMs are responsible for leading product launches and ensuring new products or features are successfully introduced to the market. Their responsibilities include:

  1. Go-to-Market Planning: Developing comprehensive go-to-market plans that outline the steps and resources needed for a successful product launch. This includes setting goals, timelines, and budgets.

  2. Positioning and Messaging: Crafting compelling product positioning and messaging that resonates with the target audience. This involves creating key messages, value propositions, and storytelling elements.

  3. Cross-Functional Coordination: Bringing together various teams into one cohesive launch squad to ensure alignment and execution of the launch plan.

  4. Sales Enablement: Creating sales enablement materials such as product demos, training sessions, sales decks, and battle cards to equip the sales team with the knowledge and tools they need to sell the product effectively.

  5. Launch Metrics and Analysis: Tracking and analyzing the performance of the product launch against the set metrics and KPIs. This helps in assessing the success of the launch and identifying areas for improvement and continued adoption.

Key Differences

Both roles are crucial for the success of a product. But, there are a few key differences between the two.

Focus Areas: Inbound PMMs are more involved in the discovery and research phases, ensuring the product meets market needs. Outbound PMMs focus on the go-to-market phase, bringing the product to market and driving adoption.

Skill Sets: Inbound PMMs need strong analytical research skills and the ability to turn data into strategic recommendations. They also need a deep understanding of the product development lifecycle and how products are built. Outbound PMMs require a higher level of marketing acumen and the ability to coordinate and influence cross-functional teams.

Impact on Lifecycle: Inbound PMMs influence the early stages of the product lifecycle, helping shape the product vision and strategy. Outbound PMMs impact the later stages, ensuring successful market launch and continued growth.

For most product marketers, the division of responsibilities will not be this clear cut. But, that’s ok. What I love about this distinction is that it provides an excellent framework for conversation with your manager and key stakeholders about the role of PMM within the business.

For example, when should you be focused on inbound versus outbound? What percentage of your resources and time should be allocated to each? Who on your team is best set up to work on each phase?

Does your company delineate between inbound and outbound? Would love to hear how this comes to life within your org.


📚 Reading List: MKT1 just published a new blog post with their ultimate guide to positioning. It’s one of the most comprehensive posts I’ve seen on the topic and well worth the read.

🎧 Playlist: On this week’s episode of Ready for Launch, Andy, Jason and I breakdown our favorite product showcases. Give it a listen to hear what companies like Shopify, Canva and HubSpot are doing well.

Until next week,

Tamara Grominsky

When you’re ready, here’s a few ways I can help: