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When PMM met Arms and the Man

For folks who have read George Bernard Shaw's Arms and the Man, this anecdote from the story would be a refresher. Please don't try to guess where am going with it :). And for the others, you also please don't try guessing and read on!

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The story

The play, Arms and the Man, is set in the fall of the Serbia-Bulgaria war of 1885.

Raina, a Bulgarian woman, and the female protagonist, is flushed with pride and eagerly awaiting the return of her fiancé, Sergius, who had captained the Bulgarian forces to an unlikely victory against the Serbs.

A couple of days before his return, there is a clamour in her town that the fleeing Serbian soldiers are trying to hide in Bulgarian houses to escape the Bulgarian forces and find their way back home. The Bulgarian forces were on hot pursuit, ensuring that the fleeing Serbs were put away. The local authority warns the Bulgarians to take care to lock their doors and windows. Raina is unperturbed and does not take any precautions. A soldier wearing the Serbian uniform enters her room through her unlocked window and threatens to kill her if she does not hide him. Ta daa -- this is one of the male protagonists (a Swiss mercenary soldier fighting on behalf of Serbia for money) and is called the "Chocolate cream solider (Choc Sol)" (read the play to know why).

Raina discovers that he is no big threat but just a tired and hungry soldier, looking to save himself and go home. He also does not glorify war, surprising young Raina, who is anyway puffed with pride over her fiancé's bravery.

Once Raina gets him some food, and he eats, Raina is keen to know about what happened on the battlefield.

Choc Sol says, "We were sitting in the barracks with our machine guns, watching the Bulgarian army slowly come up on its way to attack us. We were laughing as they were led by a young, hot-headed fellow brandishing his bayonet, with absolutely no military strategy and charging upon us as a moth falls onto fire. Their old guns were no match for our machine guns after all."

Raina's face turns pale.

Choc Sol continues, "As they were nearing our shooting range, we languidly turned out the magazine to load the bullets. That is when we started laughing at the other side of the mouth. We did not have the right bullets. So, we had to run as we had nothing to fight the battle with."

Let me stop right here.

PMM meets Arms and the Man

All am trying to say is that within the functional ecosystem of a SaaS product firm, sales, sales engineering, demand gen, field marketing, and product are folks who are either on some part of the trench or are the reason for the folks being on the trench (product folks, am talking about you). Ultimately it is the product marketing function that creates, tests, and provides the humble little bullets needed to stay on the ground and fight the good fight.

Product Marketing Loop: Credit my awesome-sauce mentor, Siddhartha Kathpalia.

For the Product Teams, on the one hand, the product marketing manager (PMM) helps in demystifying the product and setting up a nice story. On the other hand, the PMM also gets valuable feedback from customers and prospects who didn't turn customers on what can be improved on the product. Feedback is also through invaluable market research and competitive analysis, which PMMs do almost as continuously as they breathe. ( I am allowed to exaggerate). Of course, product and feature adoption is an important metric that product marketing teams own.

For Demand Gen, Field Marketing, and every other Marketing Function, the PMM helps flesh out the narrative, create relevant collaterals and stories, and help position the product as a viable option.

For Sales, a.k.a Revenue Realization: from training to enablement content to battle cards to calculators to just about anything that is needed to move the prospect up the customer journey- the PMM takes the responsibility here.

For Customer Success and Feedback: PMs usually work closely with customer success to create customer case studies and get sound bytes to funnel feedback for both, the product teams and their own marketing brethren.

My point of this story? Give us some love; we do a lot of heavy lifting. Without us, many teams run the risk of turning into the Choc Sol, who "had nothing to fight the battle with."

Sure, you may get to be one of the protagonists of a classic play but remember the royalties (no matter how paltry) are not given for being featured as a character!

Credits: To elaborate, product marketing's work encompasses this loop: (My super awesome mentor Siddhartha Katpalia has to be credited for this PMM loop and my being able to crystalize my thoughts around it. It's a beautiful and simple way to elaborate everything product marketing does.).


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