New Report Highlights Product Marketing’s Rapid Shift to External Expertise

Product Marketing’s Shift to External Expertise: New Report Highlights

In an environment of rapid innovation, constant disruption, and intense competition, salespeople depend on marketing teams for content to help fuel the sales cycle. But with staffing resources and new hires in short supply, marketing professionals are struggling to meet the demand for go-to-market strategies and sales enablement assets. This talent crunch is already having a significant impact on many marketing organizations, from low morale and employee attrition to an inability to perform at a high level. 

A new survey conducted by Gatepoint Research and sponsored by Aventi Group explores the predicament facing sales and product marketing teams. Presenting the firm’s research in the form of a fictionalized water-cooler confrontation between a frustrated sales leader and a beleaguered product marketer, the report provides a lighthearted look at this serious situation. As the executives commiserate over all they could accomplish if they only had the resources, they land on using external product marketing expertise and expertise as the solution to their problems. The happy culmination is a reflection of the real-world adoption of this model as captured in the Aventi Group report, in which nearly 90% of those surveyed indicated that their strategic partnerships with product marketing agencies will stay consistent or increase over the next year. 

Both entertaining and insightful, the data presented in the Aventi Group report reveals the priorities and challenges shaping product marketing in global B2B tech businesses. 

Sales enablement is job one

Asked about their priorities for product marketing, the executives surveyed showed a keen eye on the bottom line, with sales enablement at the top of the list (61%). This is understandable; while supporting initiatives such as strategy development and lead generation play critical roles, deals drive revenue. Salespeople depend on assets such as playbooks, training cheat sheets, solution briefs, case studies, and eBooks to help them move potential customers through the sales cycle. Developing these tools calls for not only substantive expertise, but also a flair for the art of sales language—something that can be challenging for junior level marketers, as well as for more experienced professionals with a more technical orientation. 

Of course, sales enablement isn’t the whole story. Surveyed executives also named go-to-market strategy development (56%) and new product launches (53%) as top priorities. 

Too much to do, too few people to do it

The top challenges facing product marketing initiatives spell out the talent crunch in plain terms. Tied at 67% each: not enough people/staff, and too many priorities/projects. 

The impact of this shortage takes many forms, including: 

  • Low team morale or team burn-out (63%)
  • Ineffective campaigns or launches (56%)
  • Attrition of highly skilled team members (40%)
  • Inability to achieve revenue goals (36%)

Why not just hire more people? As the product marketer in the report explains to their sales colleague—it’s not that simple. More than half of those surveyed said that it can take up to three months to fill an open senior marketing role, while 46% said that hiring delays can drag on four to six months or more. And with the “Great Resignation” increasing churn, many organizations find their hands full simply replacing departing team members, never mind expanding their capacity. 

Strategic partnerships to the rescue

Not long ago, product marketing leaders were often reluctant to bring in outside resources due in part to the depth of technology expertise required for these projects. Now, just as other marketing functions are extended by specialized agencies for public relations, advertising, creative, and SEO, product marketing is rapidly evolving to a similar strategic partnership model, and benefitting from the scale, agility, deep expertise, and tangible outputs that today’s product marketing firms can deliver. 

With the use of external expertise steady or increasing at the overwhelming majority of surveyed organizations, it’s clear that agency support has become a lifeline for these teams. And they see clear value in this strategy, with perceived top benefits ranging from faster time to market (49%) to the ability to meet or exceed KPIs (31%). Asked what they could accomplish with adequate resources, nearly two-thirds of respondents cited creating dynamic, robust content for sales and marketing—going straight to the heart of the sales enablement challenge. 

To explore the full findings of the Aventi Group survey—and to see how external expertise helped sales and product marketing overcome their differences—download the report, “A Partnership is Born: Product Marketing and Sales Find Happiness.”

Written By

Sridhar Ramanathan

Sridhar Ramanathan has 20+ years of experience in technology companies – from startups to blue chip firms. As the Marketing executive for Hewlett-Packard’s Managed Services business, he was responsible for marketing worldwide and managing the portfolio of HP services’ $1.1B unit. He also held profit & loss responsibility for electronic messaging outsourcing and e-service business units. Thanks to Sridhar’s efforts, HP became the #1 ERP Outsourcer and experienced growth in the data warehouse market, now well over a $1B revenue stream. Sridhar has played interim executive roles for a number of technology firms, leading their sales and marketing functions in the high growth phase. Sridhar holds an MBA from the Wharton School of Business and a BS in Engineering Physics from U.C. Berkeley. He is active in non-profit work as Vice Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Child Advocates of Silicon Valley, an organization that provides stability and hope to abused and neglected children.