An emerging technology sector in the D.C. region is creating opportunities for certain types of marketing professionals, says Hector Del Castillo, an independent consultant and product marketing director for the Association of International Product Marketing and Management (AIPMM).
“I’d say in the last five years, there’s a critical mass of new companies coming up that are strictly focused on commercial work. And the critical mass is strictly on software products, which end up being either web-based applications, mobile applications or a combination of both,” says Del Castillo. “These are the kinds of sectors and the kinds of companies that employ lots of product managers and lots of product marketers. I think the future for product management and product marketing here in the DMV area is more promising than ever.”
Essential Skills of the Product Marketer
Working as a product marketer requires a high degree of collaboration, particularly in a technology company. “Even though it sounds great that the product is owned by one person, and one person makes all the decisions—that is not reality,” says Del Castillo. “The more customers and revenue there are attached to a product, the more people that are going to be on the product. Now you have to influence decisions within an organization, so collaboration is required in order to guide critical decisions.”
Curiosity is another essential skill that effective product marketers share. “Curiosity from the product marketing side is understanding what triggers a buyer behavior from customers,” says Del Castillo. “What are they buying and from whom? It’s really about understanding from the buyer’s point of view what is the whole product. Why are they buying your product in the first place? Or why are they buying your competitors’ products instead?”
The most important, perhaps, is perseverance. Del Castillo says that product marketers don’t always succeed in getting immediate consensus. “You may have to work a little bit harder to get buy-in based on your understanding of which direction the organization could go in,” he says. “You don’t own those decisions. You have to influence by going to the right stakeholders within the organization and persevere, even under adverse conditions.”
Bringing Big Data into the Mix
Data-based decisions are also driving the evolution of the product marketer’s role. “No matter where or what kind of industrial segment you’re in, you have to now track, measure and continuously look for new ways of measuring things that you haven’t measured before,” says Del Castillo. “It’s an iterative process. You gather information, analyze it, and plan what you do next. Then you measure and take corrective action.”
The bigger challenge for product marketers is not that data isn’t collected, but that it isn’t shared with them. Many organizations are in the process of figuring out how to make that information available to the product marketer at the right time. “When it’s in silos, you have to work hard at gathering the information and curating it, so that it’s accessible to the different people that need this information,” says Del Castillo.
Product Marketing Management Resources
Whether you’re a seasoned product marketing manager or just learning the ropes, there are many ways to hone your skills in the Washington region. Here are a few resources to get you started: