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3 minute read / Nov 18, 2019 /

The 13 Critical Questions to Answer about Your Startup's Product Marketing

Last week’s post on The Most Frequent Mishire in Startups generated the most comments on a post this year. In particular, it was this section. Though the startup may have achieved product market fit, the company may not understand the fit. Who is using the product and why? How does the buyer journey evolve with time? How do buyers describe the product amongst each other? Few early stage companies can answer those questions accurately.

Why is this? Early in the life of a business, the product manager (often a founder) plays both the role of the PM and the PMM. Over time, the startup’s growth demands a more specialized role.

Many times, the PM builds the product as quickly as possible to establish product/market fit. In contrast, the PMM answers critical questions about the company, product and market to ensure the product sells.

What are these critical questions? I found an excellent list in Kotler on Marketing that I adapted for startups. How many of these questions can you answer about your business?

These questions are also excellent interviewing questions. When evaluating candidates, use structured interviews and work projects to maximize chances of success.

Structured interviews are the best predictive factor of job success with 28% correlation. Work projects, (a presentation that answers a key question about the business like a 60/90/120 day plan) explain 26% of variance. The unstructured interview (let’s have a conversation!) correlates at 14%. See Laszlo Bock’s Work Rules for a deeper dive into these interviewing concepts.

The role of the PMM may be one of the most frequently misunderstood in Startupland. But it’s worth understanding the role and finding a great one. PMMs answers some of the thorniest questions about a business and so that everyone can work more efficiently. With the answers to the questions above, a startup can scale with greater success by eliminating unnecessary experimentation.

Read More:

The Most Frequent Mishire in Startups