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#05: The difference between PMM & Lifecycle

January 15, 2023

Happy Sunday product marketers!

I’m back with a followup to last week’s discussion on the power of combining customer lifecycle with product marketing.

Now that we’ve covered the “why”, let’s get into the “how”. Namely, how to structure the two roles, and which metrics each role should be responsible for.

Roles & Responsibilities

When I think of these two teams, I think of complementary yet discrete functions of the business.

Product marketing’s mandate is to create go-to-market strategies that accelerate growth, build differentiation and deliver customer value. This is mainly done through a focus on the following:

  • Market strategy
  • Customer segmentation
  • Positioning & messaging
  • Competitive intelligence
  • Go-to-market strategy
  • Product launch
  • Pricing & packaging

On the other hand, a lifecycle team’s mandate is to influence customer behaviour across the entire lifecycle - driving habit formation and deepening product adoption. This is done through a focus on both lifecycle strategy and go-to-customer, such as:

  • Customer onboarding & activation
  • Customer retention & churn deflection
  • Feature adoption
  • Customer marketing
  • Customer education
  • Community

When we look at these focus areas side by side, it quickly becomes clear how the two teams can work together to create a more integrated approach to go-to-market.

For example, by leveraging their shared customer intelligence and insights, product marketing can create more targeted go-to-market strategies, while lifecycle marketing can build deeper customer relationships and drive more effective customer education and onboarding.

By utilizing the same customer intelligence and insights, the two teams can collaborate on product launches, pricing and packaging, feature adoption, and other go-to-market programs and campaigns.

Additionally, lifecycle marketing can leverage product marketing’s positioning and messaging to ensure that all customer programs are consistent and aligned with the overall product strategy - while also funnelling back real-time insights about what messaging is landing, and what needs to be tweaked.

Who Am I?

If you’re reading this and starting to have an identity crisis - don’t stress! Once PMMs understand the connection between these two functions, it’s very common for them to start to wonder which they really belong in.

Here’s where the nuances of the day-to-day role come in. If you’re looking at both lists of focus areas above and thinking you love all of it, ask yourself the following questions:

This list is incomplete, and is simply meant to demonstrate how the application of a very similar skillset can take very different paths.

In my experience, many marketers transition into product marketing roles via a stint in lifecycle marketing. It’s a bit more tangible of a role, and offers a great sandbox to build the foundational strategy and product acumen needed to excel in PMM.

Goals & Metrics

When it comes to setting goals and identifying key metrics, product marketing and lifecycle marketing have different approaches.

Product marketing is focused on long-term, strategic goals such as driving product adoption, capturing market share, and creating competitive differentiation. Lifecycle marketing, on the other hand, is focused on optimizing the customer experience across the lifecycle, and has goals around customer activation, engagement and retention.

Here’s an example of what this might look like:

  • Product Marketing = market share, ARPU, win rate and product adoption
  • Lifecycle = activation rate, engagement rate, churn rate and deflection/save rate

I do want to note that in order to ensure that both teams are working towards the same goals, it’s important to set shared KPIs - such as customer lifetime value and customer growth - that both teams are responsible for. This ensures that the two teams are working together to leverage their shared knowledge and skills to accelerate growth.

Now, who’s ready to go build the dream team?!

See you here next Sunday ⏰

- Tamara