"Innovation is the catalyst for change, but it can also create resistance and friction in the marketplace."

- Seth Godin

There are a lot of things that can go wrong in the product-marketing process. Sometimes it's a big, hairy beast of an issue that everyone can see coming from miles away. But sometimes, it's something small—something you might not even notice until it's too late.

Why? Because when you're spending your days and nights thinking about your product and how to market it, you're also probably thinking about all the other things on your plate: business development, sales training, customer support…you know what I mean! When you're buried in all those other responsibilities and opportunities, friction points can slip by unnoticed until someone gets hurt—and then there's blood all over the floor.

Where User Engagement Goes Wrong: The Role of Points of Friction
Discover the hidden pitfalls of user engagement and how to eliminate them with ease.

Let's go over seven of the most common frictions in this role (you may have already experienced some of them). After all, when your team is aligned and frictionless, everyone experiences more success and less stress.

1. Garbage Data Means Garbage Strategy

Critically evaluate your current KPIs: Which ones directly tie back to revenue growth or cost reduction (your North Star business priorities)? Eliminate "vanity metrics".
Consider behavioral analytics: Utilize heatmaps and in-app behavior tracking for qualitative insights about how users interact with your product.

Marketers love buzzwords, and it seems we get a new data flavor-of-the-month every other week. But let's be honest – not all data is created equal. Drowning in metrics without a laser focus on what moves the needle for your business is a sure-fire way to waste precious time and misdirect your strategy.

Example: Imagine focusing intensely on lead generation while ignoring your churn rate. It's like gleefully pouring water into a bucket riddled with holes. No matter how fancy your faucet, you'll end up soaked and disappointed.

The Fix: Tie your KPIs back to concrete business goals and don't shy away from a healthy dose of skepticism towards vanity metrics. Dig beneath the surface to truly understand what's driving results.

2. When Devs and Marketing Aren't on the Same Page, Nobody Wins

Implement regular, cross-departmental touchpoints: This could be a weekly check-in, or joint participation in larger company goal-setting.
Establish shared resources: A 'feature pipeline' document, accessible to both sides, fosters transparency around new functionalities and marketing timelines.

Marketing dreaming up ideas in a vacuum and then tossing them over the fence to product development creates some spectacularly ugly misfires. This communication breakdown between stakeholders leads to wasted effort, a fragmented user experience, and those awkward “What were they thinking!?” moments.

Example: Remember that app with the killer new feature nobody asked for, marketed with a cringe-worthy campaign that missed the target audience by a mile? That's likely a symptom of misalignment between devs and marketing.

The Fix Build communication bridges! Joint strategy sessions, even in smaller companies, force devs and marketers to get on the same wavelength. It's worth the time investment for a unified vision that gets results.

3. Neglecting the Winding Road: The User Journey

Interview your sales team: Have them walk you through their typical sales calls, uncover their 'cheat sheet' of common objections, questions, and buying triggers.
Build buyer persona scenarios: Don't just have static descriptions, write mini-stories about how they encounter problems, research solutions, and interact with your product.

Sure, you know your buyer personas on paper. But do you truly understand the sometimes-chaotic path they take? Ignoring the twists and turns of the user journey, focusing solely on “big moments” is akin to drawing a map with just the start and end points–there's a whole lot of unknown middle ground to get lost in.

Example Overly focusing on conversions without understanding the nuances of the consideration phase might result in campaigns that are overly salesy, turning off potential customers who haven't been given the space to be properly educated or nurtured.

The Fix: Collaborate closely with sales and customer success. They're the ones on the front lines, understanding the pain points, questions, and decision-making processes your personas go through. Map those out in detail!

4. Sales and Marketing: Siblings Separated at Birth

Sales enablement is your bestie: Provide sales with up-to-date, well-structured, easily searchable sales materials. Think FAQs, pitch decks with customization options, competitive intel.
Create lead scoring in tandem: Get your sales leads to prioritize leads that fall into your ideal customer profile, as defined by marketing, to eliminate wasted opportunities.

Love them or hate them, you need your sales team. A disconnect between those closing the deals and your marketing messages leaves everyone frustrated. Outdated battle plans, missed opportunity hand-offs, and an almost comical amount of miscommunication...we've all seen it.

Example: Picture a product update hyped in your marketing with all the whistles and bells, only to find out sales wasn't even notified beforehand. Cue awkward apologies and scrambled attempts to close deals using outdated promises. Ouch.

The Fix: Shared resources, regular joint strategy sessions, and yes, the occasional trust-building team outing can work wonders. Make sure these departments play in the same sandbox, with an open and consistent flow of information.

5. Remember, You're Not Just Selling a Tool

Run value proposition exercises: Go beyond features and list. Define what success looks like because of your product. Does it save time? Reduce complexity? Promote creativity? These are your emotional hooks.
Conduct market research to identify brand archetypes: This exercise helps you nail down your brand's voice and personality, making your narrative stand out.

Your product might be remarkable, a piece of finely tuned engineering brilliance. But in the eyes of consumers, it's often just... a means to an end. Failing to foster an emotional connection and build a strong brand identity leaves you vulnerable to any newer, shinier (but not necessarily better) competitor.

Example: Think of those commodity products—even the 'market leader' can get dethroned by a challenger who understands that it's not just about features, but about the values and lifestyle those features enable.

The Fix: Go beyond functionality. What does your product represent for its users? Success? Convenience? Creativity? This is your true brand differentiation—weave it into everything you do.

6. Superhero Syndrome: One Product Marketer Can't Save the World

Make a case for support: Analyze where most of your PMM's time is spent. Can an intern cover more basic tasks? Does freelance copywriting for routine needs free up time for strategy? Use this data to justify budget growth.
Build a 'PMM Squad': Identify allies across departments (a content-savvy dev, a numbers-obsessed sales rep) and create a task force to conquer big strategic projects.

We sometimes think a lone genius product marketer armed with caffeine and ambition can solve all of our problems. While skilled PMMs are a rare breed, we're not actually superheroes. Spreading that kind of expectation fosters burnout and undercuts a holistic approach.

Example: You've got your 'unicorn' PMM tackling everything from messaging to launch management to competitive analysis. They might pull off short-term heroics, but at what cost? It's unsustainable and sets your organization up for chaos when inevitably, this person either walks away or simply stops functioning at a high level under excessive pressure.

The Fix: Don't mistake being scrappy with throwing someone into the deep end to sink or swim. A successful product marketing function relies on collaboration. It requires buy-in for support resources, whether that's internal talent across functions or even outsourcing specialized roles. Yes, that needs budgeting – but consider it an investment against failure.

7. Don't Hide From It. Actively Seek Negative Feedback

Build a feedback loop: In-app surveys, targeted outreach to 'lost' customers, or even incentivized focus groups to get honest critique.
Turn complaints into a resource: Analyze them systematically -- are certain pain points mentioned repeatedly? These aren't annoyances, but untapped market opportunities.

Let's face it, the happy user rarely shouts feedback from the rooftops. We tend to hear either crickets or an onslaught of complaints. Both warp our ability to improve, creating a vacuum where assumptions breed faster than those proverbial rabbits.

Example: It's tempting to lean heavily on “success stories” and glowing testimonials. While important, these won't expose those nagging pain points you desperately need to address to win over hesitant customers or retain existing ones.

The Fix: Regular user surveys, even short ones embedded within the product experience, and targeted in-depth user interviews become essential tools. Be prepared to not always love what you hear. However, it's better to know and fix a weakness than have it be your 'silent killer' in the marketplace.

The Wrap-Up

Honestly, every great product marketer hits at least a few of these rough patches. They're often symptoms of a growing business rather than an indictment of your talents. But, the difference between those that thrive and those that falter is recognizing these points of friction early and course-correcting strategically.

And let's face it, in a rapidly evolving, hyper-competitive market, stagnation is the greatest friction of all. If these pain points ring true, it's not an admission of failure, but an invitation to level up your approach. Let's avoid those bloody floors, shall we?

Need some support in overcoming these obstacles? Drop me a mail at amit@datadab.com

Product marketing is hard work. It's not glamorous, it takes time and dedication, and it requires you to be a jack-of-all-trades. But if you love what you do, it's worth it.

I hope that this article has inspired you to take the next step in your career and become a product marketer yourself!