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Community-led growth: the product orbit

Every CMO manages a product-led orbit. It is fundamental to any product or service organization that offers a solution to the market. You talk about your company and position it in the market. You introduce new products and platforms and show off their latest cool features. Your pitches are filled with stats that back up why your product or business is great, and you produce logo splash slides revealing all of the name-brand customers that purchased from you. 

You created and managed this marketing orbit for your business. Everyone in the market that visits your orbit is a potential lead that can be further nurtured and qualified. You and your team spend a lot of time figuring out how to highlight and enhance a pain point the company believes its target audience has. You control 100% of the narrative here that is detailed in your positioning decks, creative briefs, and ideal account and customer profiles.

This is where your team also devotes substantial effort to creating purpose-built content. It is self-promoting by nature and seller-centric. When your buyers want to buy, this is the content that nurtures them through to the finish line. Your webinars, datasheets, website, sales presentations, and corporate podcasts fly around in this orbit. Any business intending to buy from you will find this content, free or gated, on your site or through personal engagements with your teams.

In addition to purpose-built content driving demand, you might also work for a product-led growth company where product use drives demand. The more people that find your product useful and tell others about their experience will support customer and revenue growth.




Working in product-led orbits is easy because everyone else in the company is focused there. Engineering teams focus on getting new products, features, and user experiences out the door. Product marketing teams are busy collecting market feedback for engineers and detailing what the product does to better enable their sales team. Demand generation teams are busy building a qualified pipeline to hand over to sales. Sales teams are busy selling the products on the price list and roadmap. 

Most importantly, this is where every B2B company and the board measure their success or failure. The company sells a product and generates revenue from there to support continued growth and operations. 

Product-led orbits are comfortable because everyone at the company is building, discussing, or selling the same things. Everyone feels like they’re on the same page.

The market does not see product-led orbits the same way you do. B2B customers are inundated daily with emails, promotions, and salespeople all pitching their solutions. Every solution will save time, lower costs, and improve business outcomes. For buyers, identifying the signal through the noise is a daily challenge. They don’t need just one solution you may offer to get their work done. They are looking for broader, integrated approaches that fit with their people, culture, and processes. 

While product-led orbits are comfortable inside corporate walls, competition is fierce in the market. Take an example of the Marketing Technology Landscape. In 2022, represented 9,932 products available to CMOs and their teams for consideration. When every product-led marketing team says faster, cheaper, and better, they all sound alike. As MarketingProfs An Handley recently remarked, “When we all sound the same, we’re invisible.”



It’s easy for most marketing teams to understand if they work in a product-led orbit.

Let’s address the elephant in the room. Your product-led marketing teams produce an abundance of content. That content is required to help customers self-educate on your solution. Because too many of your marketers in this realm don’t speak directly with customers and users, that disconnect is apparent in the content. The content speaks the language of the marketer, not the buyer. As such, the buyer is left as the interpreter in the purchase transaction.

Content produced by the company (or produced for the company for a fee) supports the traditional sales cycle, but most buyers view it as untrustworthy. They recognize that vendors will only mention the good or best things they do. Buyers weave through the exercise trying to determine what a solution truly does or does not do. And to make things more challenging, your best content in this orbit is often locked behind a form.

Another way to easily spot marketing teams working in product-led orbits is on social media channels. Their posts resemble billboards for products, webinars, and whitepapers. Your product-led marketers narrowly share blog posts about your product, a new analyst paper featuring your company, or a local event you are hosting. To amplify the message even more, they ask their marketing and sales colleagues to like or share their posts, hoping it can reach an even broader audience - mainly because they personally have only a few followers paying attention. In the words of one market observer, “your self-promotion is more annoying than you think.”

The measures for B2B product-led marketers are traditional. How many people visited a website, downloaded the latest product whitepaper, or tripped enough nurture triggers to convert as a marketing-qualified lead? More mature organizations will track that lead further through their pipeline to report on marketing-influenced bookings and win rates.

There is nothing wrong with product-led marketing orbits. All B2B companies and marketing teams play here. Play is mandatory as it supports the heart of your business. You have to talk about yourself sometimes, but like all things in life - balance and perspective are required. This is where Orbit 2, the brand-led marketing efforts, benefits your business.

Characteristics of Product-led Marketing





This blog is an excerpt from Derek Weeks' upcoming book: Unfair Mindshare, a CMO's guide to community-led marketing in a product-led world.