November 4, 2016
Founder Panel: Developer Product Design
In this Q&A panel on Developer Product Design, Heavybit Product Faculty Chair and Squarespace Developer Platform Lead Cole Krumbholz is join...
Taking a product or feature to market requires more than just buzz. Great product marketing requires deep consideration of community feedback, customer discovery, product onboarding, positioning, content creation, demand, sales enablement, and adoption.
CRO of Pusher, Sylvain Giuliani, moderates a panel on product marketing success metrics, launch best practices, and the intricacies of managing a team ultimately responsible for platform adoption. He is joined by:
This panel was recorded on September 26th, 2018.
Full Transcript Below
Sylvain Giuliani: We’re going to talk about product marketing. Product marketing for me is something that is actually really important in my experience because people usually see this more as a call center or like doesn’t really provide revenue but in my experience, product marketing done right, has a significant impact on your company. And actually as a force multiplier in your organization. Mainly, because they’ll be able to find new revenue channels by looking at the market, for example, optimizing your conversion funnel by mapping user journey, mapping content to that user journey, for example. And also understanding what feature to build in your product to win the market by listening to what’s going on in the market and getting customer feedback. And, obviously, at the end of the day, it’s about revenue, and that will empower the sales team to close more deals, bigger deals, faster deals.
So, before we jump into this with our panelists, let’s quickly introduce ourselves. So I’ll start. I’m Sylvain, I’m the CRO of Pusher. Pusher has been around for a long time for people that don’t know. We provide APIs to developers, so as to enable them to build real time features into their application like chat, in-app notification, activity feed, and so on. I just recently relocated to the Bay Area, so if anybody has food recommendations, activity recommendations for me, please talk to me after the session. Now the panelists will introduce themselves.
Ursula Ayrout: Hey everyone, I’m Ursula Ayrout. I actually work for myself. I run a small marketing agency that helps startups and mid-sized companies with their marketing. So we do three things. We help companies with their messaging and positioning, their demand gen and content, and, finally, their B2B strategy.
Indy Sen: Good evening everyone my name is Indy Sen. I’m a Product Marketer over at Google Cloud, our enterprise facing business. I work specifically on G Suite which is our collaboration and prodigy platform and I market specifically to the developer audience so developers and partners to get them to build integrations and add-ons and custom applications on the G Suite platform.
Astha Malik: I’m Astha Malik and I’m the Head of Product and Platform Marketing at Zendesk, and I recently inherited the sales enablement team as well, so I’m doing a bunch of things at a very high-growth, intense and fun environment.
Sylvain: That’s great. We’ll talk about sales with everyone later on so we can definitely talk about that with you. But I thought for tonight we could start with, essentially, looking at the differences between product marketing and developer evangelists and community marketing, because that’s usually where devtool companies start, and would love to hear your thoughts on that. So, maybe, Indy, you have a background doing these things, so tell us the difference between the roles.
Indy: Yeah, happy to. So, you know, some of the background I have, before Google I was head of Developer Relations and Marketing over at MuleSoft, and then I also kind of dabbled, and I’ve always done some of this platform developer facing things at other companies, including Box and Salesforce. So, I’ve been both, in the shoes of community manager, developer evangelist, or certainly work with them. I would say, there are a couple of differences.
I think community managers are the first line of defense with developers. They’ll be the voice of your organization, and almost like the brand, from a cultural and ambassadorship standpoint. Where I see the overlap with product marketing, specifically, is that I think product marketing can be, at its core, the messaging arm of what that organization’s going to do. So, if you think about it, product marketing might create the content, or the main strand of messaging and then folks like community managers or developer evangelists will be the ones spreading that message through the appropriate channels. So, that would be the major handshake that comes to mind, is that product marketing, provides some of the direction, the backbone, either from the structural standpoint or a messaging standpoint, and then community managers and evangelists are the ones who execute out in the field and leverage that messaging.
Sylvain: OK, what about you, Ursula, do you have any thoughts on this?
Ursula: Yes, so I worked at Pantheon for two years. It’s a website platform for Drupal and WordPress websites. And developer evangelism was a big thing for us, because we had an open source community. So we probably went to over a 100 different meetups. When you think about developer evangelism, it’s always all about the meetups. It was the responsibility of the marketing team, and within the marketing team, the larger marketing team, to actually tell the developer evangelist what was on offer, what were the products they needed to promote, give them notation, et cetera, and all those fun things, and what the demo was. And I think, the big thing is with developer evangelism, specifically around product marketing, is how you measure it. And so we worked very closely as a marketing team to really measure those results, to have them tie into product development.
Sylvain: OK, both of you mentioned brand. You think brand sits within the product marketing organization, or is that something owned by someone else?
Ursula: Well, if you think about a marketing organization, you’ve got the CMO or a VP of Marketing at the top level, and then, in a mature company, let’s say you’ve got 10 employees, I would think the head of marketing typically owns brand. In a larger company, it’s probably corporate communications, probably similar at Zendesk?
Astha: We have a very different structure. I’m happy to talk about that.
Ursula: OK, for smaller companies, you’ve got product marketing, and you’ve got your demand gen team, then you’ve got your developer evangelism, then you’ve got marketing operations, and then you’ve got your web team. So, brand kind of sits in within every one’s purview, but it’s run by the head of marketing, specifically, and the CER.
Sylvain: OK, and what about at Zendesk?
Astha: Yeah, so I think Zendesk is pretty unique. I would agree with Ursula for the most part, I think, in all the companies that I’ve worked in the past, brands sits within marketing, typically, under corporate marketing, and very small organizations, like you said, it becomes a responsibility of product marketing. But at Zendesk, for those of you who’ve seen our brand, and maybe the evolution over the last 10 years or so, we have a very strong and a very unique identity. We’re this quirky, fun brand, and very specific about the ethos that we want to communicate around simplicity and also sort of user-centric messaging.
So, from the very beginning, our Chief Creative Officer has reported to our CEO directly, and that’s still the case. And I think, in a way that’s helped us retain that brand identity, while evolving it, of course, to meet the growing needs of the company as we scaled. But that’s the structure of Zendesk, and we went through a recent messaging refresh exercise, which my team led, but it was in close collaboration with the brand team, because it’s important that when you’re sending out new messages to the market, when you’re positioning yourselves differently, you are looking at the entire picture of like how the brand comes across to people. Both, prospects and customers, so, it’s definitely a very close partnership between the two teams.
Sylvain: On that front, staying at that more general level, can you tell me a bit about the biggest mistake you made around product marketing? What was it, and what did you learn from it?
Indy: Let’s come up with something that’s not too sad. In product marketing, specially, if you think about where we are going in terms of when you’re helping set the structure and direction of what types of activities you’re going to focus on especially at smaller companies. There’s tons of bets you’re going to place. There are things you can do from an awareness standpoint, like ads, you can do webs, you can use things like Optimizely, and conduct experiments, cause you own that.
When I was at MuleSoft, I thought of myself as sort of more like a full stack marketer, I was responsible for everything that was developer facing, awareness, consideration, all that we do adoption. One example that I have in terms of lessons that I learned was that, strategy does not always travel, and what I mean by that, is that you may have knocked it out of the park with a specific event or template, a playbook that you had at a company like Salesforce or Box, and then you try to take it over to your other company, and you execute the same playbook, it’s not going to always work out. And I think the main reason why it doesn’t work out is that every developer is different, obviously, your product is different, where you are in your cycle as a company is also different.
So, one example that I learned was I tried to execute a very similar play that I had when I was at Box, where the idea was to graft onto a bigger event, like Google I/O. We at the time, were marketing this ecosystem of applications called OneCloud, which is, basically, all these applications that integrated with Box as a file system, and we just launched the Android version of that ecosystem. So we had this awesome party, just couple of blocks down over at the Cartoon Art Museum, during Google I/O, and developers just showed up in droves. We kind of did a little bit of word-of-mouth, and some marketing, and all these people with I/O badges just showed up, and it was a great event. Fast forward to a couple of years afterwards, we were trying to do something again, very high-touch and high-quality with our developers from MuleSoft, and I said, hey why don’t we try this venue, the Cartoon Art Museum, developers love it. We had our founder Ross Mason come and speak with us. But the big difference was that the demographic was different.
MuleSoft is an enterprise integration platform. The developers probably skew a little bit older, they probably used tools that give them PTSD to this day. Most of them work for bigger companies, so it was not the same demographic, and it wasn’t the same type of developer. A party in the middle of the week, which meant you wouldn’t have time to pick up your kids, that kind of stuff. So it didn’t quite work as well as the one we had for Box with the younger developers.
Sylvain: That’s definitely something that happens, as he said, playbook doesn’t always travel really well with every organization. What are the different types of launches that you dealt with as part of the programming function, like, Astha, you have a big suite of products now under your umbrella. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
Astha: I think, product launches are product launches. You can, basically, tier them. My team manages seven different product lines now. When you tier them, you can imagine that, maybe it’s a brand new product that you’re introducing that requires a different kind of effort. If it’s a feature update, it requires a different kind of effort, so, we have come up with a structure that helps us, to just organize the different type of launches that we roll out at Zendesk.
One thing that is critical to any product launch success and, you talked about templates and it kind of goes back to playbooks and templates that we’ve all used in different companies, and we try and repeat them in different places, I think it’s good to remind yourself that when you reengineer your product, you have to reengineer the conversation. And for that you have to go back and look at the people that you’re going to sell this to, so, instead of focusing on just what’s new in the product, or if it’s a new product, what are the features going to do, you have to focus on the storytelling. And the storytelling only works if you know your people.
So, I think this is one of the mistakes a lot of product marketers make as well, like not investing enough time in understanding the personas that they’re going to target. And we operate in an attention economy, so it’s not so much about technology being the barrier to entry, or technology being the barrier to success, but it’s actually storytelling and relaying a message, and brand becomes sort of like a memory game. So, do people recognize what you do, do they really understand what the company and their products stand for, and the value it delivers? Product launches are not about, OK, we’ve released a bunch of things and like what do each of these features do, that’s great, those descriptions are very important, but focusing on the jobs to be done, focusing on, how they’re going to sell and solve problems for the customers is important.
One orientation that always helps is like most of the companies here, I know there are many B2C too, but majority of the companies here are B2B companies. But at the end of the day, you’re selling it to people, and having that B2C mindset in a B2B environment really helps to succeed with products and launches.
Ursula: One thing that I’d be upfront with your leadership team is, what are the metrics for success? Why are you launching this product? Is it for awareness? Great, so what are the metrics for awareness? Is it for usage? What is the awareness for usage? Is it conversion? What are the metrics for conversion? Et cetera. And just to dovetail on your message around storytelling, I think if you can’t figure out your key differentiation points with your product, then don’t create a product launch. Don’t go out to market, if you’re not clear with what your differentiators are. Recently, I was working with a client, and we just couldn’t get to the differentiation. And I think we realized that they wanted to create this product, because a competitor had it, but yet, they didn’t have the right differentiation. So, really think about your messaging tray, your positioning, what it is, and why you’re doing it.
Indy: If I could just quickly add to that. At Google, we have different stages, we have what we now call, alphas, betas, and then GA, Generally Available, and sometimes, we’ll use the alpha and the beta as interim stage gates where we do work, not only on the minimum viable product, but also what we call, the minimum viable positioning. There’s so much input that you’ll get from some of the smaller cadre of developers, who’ll influence your ultimate messaging. This happened maybe about a year ago, but a lot of times, given our consumer heritage, we blog something, and people will be like, Oh, let’s try it, it’s from Google, it’s great.
In the enterprise, and specifically to enterprise developers, it doesn’t work that way. You have to work on the messaging. It’s not just about the launch, it’s actually about the landing. And so we have a whole team that sits within product marketing called the landings team, and before every launch, they’ll ask, what are the metrics, is it awareness? Or is it the messaging pull through, is it the coverage, or what’s 30 days, 60 days, 90 days pattern of usage?
Sylvain: Another question that I had was, product marketing is usually not a goal or KPI-oriented team, because most people think that’s content generation, or positioning messaging. But as we just discussed, there’s actually KPI involved with launches, so what are the KPIs or how do you come up with goals for the product marketing team? Astha, you have a large team. How do you manage that?
Astha: We’re very particular about making sure that we have measurable success tied to our product launches and execution. I am of the belief that the product marketer is an expert on the product and the market, and that’s why they’re developing the positioning, the messaging, and that ends up getting used by both sales and the rest of the marketing organization. That’s the reason why they have this obligation to own the business matrix, like pipeline generation. If you are feeding that content into campaigns, into digital programs, et cetera, you need to go on that number. So my team does that. We have ownership of those numbers directly, alongside, of course, our campaigns and digital team. And then on the product side, when we are launching new products, et cetera, my team is also responsible for making sure that the product launch is successful, which, again, depending on the launch, the metrics can be different, but typically, they are around product usage. We have measurable KPIs.
Sylvain: Google is famous for using OKRs, what do OKRs for product marketing look like?
Indy: One product that my team just launched is a product called AppMakr, which is a local development platform that’s built on the G Suite infrastructure. Here we’re looking at adoption and number of customers, number of domains, number of apps created. As a developer product, it’s mostly going to be adoption-based. We do look at the pipeline in terms of influenced deals. The way the product is packaged is that it’s included in business and enterprise versions of G Suite. What I have been tracking is, for example, the number of signups from the G Suite signup page, for the overall product, which includes Gmail, Sheets, Slides. AppMakr is already among the top influencers of signups. Nobody really thought to ask that question, but as a product marketer, it’s really good because if anything, that helps you influence decisions. If the web page is restructured, what are the things that we want to put out there? In this case, it looks like people are interested in this product.
Ursula: One of the big things I find when you’re doing product launches, especially with startups, they always offer you an opportunity to bump your revenue up, because you’re getting your entire company in your team, your product team, your marketing team, and your sales team, aligned on one vision and one timeline. So, a lot of great things can happen if you have an end day that’s very specific, and everyone has to meet that goal.
When I was working at Pantheon, and with these startups, whenever one gathers around a product launch and a product launch day, you actually get to see a really nice bump in pipeline, in revenue. So if you’re struggling with getting to the right pipeline, or the sales numbers, find an opportunity to create a product launch, it’s a great way to package all of your features that you’re sending out every two weeks, or every three weeks, or every four weeks, in a more meaningful way that then helps the customer understand what your product is and what your position is in the marketplace.
Sylvain: Let’s talk about the relationship with the rest of organization. You mentioned sales enablement. How does the PMM function interact with sales? I’ve seen sales as part of PMM, I’ve seen sales enablement being its own team that reports to the VP of Sales. What’s your experience with that?
Astha: I think product marketing is unique in the sense that, product marketing sits in between sales and product. So, if I think about the two most important stake holders in the organization, those are the two organizations and teams that we work with a ton. Product, of course, because of the knowledge of the product and the market. If we want to influence the product roadmap, the product strategy, work with them on pricing, packaging, and other more strategic things that are tied to the overall product strategy. And then sales, because if you are responsible for product messaging and positioning, et cetera, you want to make sure that the messages that marketing is sending out in the market are consistent with the messages sales are going to be relaying to their prospects and customers. They have to be both consistent and compelling.
Sales enablement, positioning is very different from what you tell to the customer and prospects. There are a variety of things that go into it which are, how to sell the product, but also how to tell a story, and skills development also because we hire sales people from a variety of different backgrounds with a variety of different experiences, and you just have to nurture their skillsets too. The way that it worked out at Zendesk was that product marketing and sales enablement were working so well, close together, it made sense that the two organizations merged and started working together. Sales and partner enablement, both, by collaborating so closely, by being a part of the same team, helps boost efficiency and influences and informs the priorities for both the teams. So that’s working beautifully for us.
Sylvain: Ursula, in the startup world, who usually owns the sales enablement, is it sales people owning it themselves, or is someone else pushing it?
Ursula: I think it’s a combination of both. I think whoever has a bit more bandwidth usually takes ownership of it, but, typically it’s marketing and sales collaborating together and just really coming up with the very short list of deliverables that the sales team needs to be super successful.
Sylvain: When you say deliverables, what kind of deliverables?
Ursula: Deliverables could be a sales deck, it could be the demo, or it could be the demo script, it could be sales scripts, it could also be the competitive stories. How do you compete with this new product offering, how do you then compete with the competitors? What are those messages, how do you rebut them? You’ve got this thing called the competitive battle card and then the customers’ stories are really critical, as well, so how do you tell the new product offering through the eyes of the customer? So, those are really important tactics or deliverables that I think you can’t launch, you need those before you can launch a product.
Indy: So much of what product marketing does, a lot of people think of big ticket messaging, the billboards, the branding, the messaging, but, especially in the enterprise, it’s all about that field enablement. When we have launches, at Google, there’s this term that we call the bill of materials, that’s attached to every launch. That’s where you work hand in hand with the product organizations, sales, and be like, Hey, do you want battle cards, you want the sales deck? It’s not the glossy stuff that you’re going to see on the billboard, but it’s the stuff that the field is going to carry with them. And that’s where the real battle happens. That’s extremely important from the sales enablement standpoint and having some kind of agreement on the bill of materials and the scope also sets you up for success, because you, as part of marketing, can quarterback the assets, you don’t have to do all of it yourself, but at least you agree on what’s going to be part of the envelope.
Sylvain: You mentioned billboards. We are in billboard city for tech products. What’s your take on billboards?
Ursula: When I worked at Salesforce, we had a billboard for recruiting. We had just launched a new campaign around, Welcome to your dreamjob #dreamjob. Remember that? A billboard made sense, because we needed to hire sales reps, and it was such a competitive market for hiring. We wanted to shift people’s mindset that Salesforce was a sexy company, and we were hiring sales reps. It just really depends on what your objective is. For us, it was around awareness.
Astha: That should be the objective with billboards, you can’t expect anything more than awareness, so if you can measure the brand recall, that should serve you really well. There are a lot of success stories out there. Box for example, its billboard caught everyone’s attention when, they compared themselves to SharePoint. You just have to have provocative, succinct and concise messaging. Your point should not be to tell your entire story and what the company does and how everyone on the company is working, but it should be about making a strong statement. And I think those are the ones that are really successful, if you look at Apple and Box, you’ll see a couple of new billboards popping up because of Dreamforce this week. They are very provocative. That’s when they catch your attention. I’ve seen billboards that I really don’t want to look at when I’m driving, even if I have the time, because there’s just too much going on on a small real estate.
Indy: It has to be really succinct. I do have one Box story about the space where we had the “SharePoint sucks” billboard. That’s a space that, as a company, you have to rent out, months in advance. It’s actually pretty expensive, in the thousands, double-digit thousands of dollars, at a time. We had rented a space for three months at one point, when we launched this OneCloud ecosystem but had no major campaign. So we actually used that as a rallying cry for the OneCloud ecosystem, where we told all these partners that were integrating with us, we kind of dangled this carrot being like, if you integrate in time for this announcement, you will be one of the logos on our billboard.
What was amazing about that is the outcome. We were all enthralled with the idea but what ended up happening, which was great, was that the partners came back to us and some of them stopped on the highway to take pictures, and then the investors were driving by, and they would say, Hey why is Breazy Locals on the Box thing, that’s awesome. So, it was just one of those things where you took advantage of not just your awareness, but you created like an umbrella of awareness for others as well. It was almost the equivalent of the Bat Signal on Gotham City. This is what we stand for. It can be pretty powerful that way too.
Astha: I used to joke with my team during my days at Citrix and even afterwards, that you should indulge in a little opium, which means, other people’s money and brand. Partnerships from that perspective can really help boost the brand awareness and there are many cool stories out there that help validate that.
Sylvain: OK, cool, well thank you for that. It’s time to open up the floor for questions.
Astha: I’m happy to take that first, and I’m sure you guys have input there too. I run a team of almost 42 people now, so I’ve got a large team. And the way that I started structuring my team, and you’re absolutely right, that in the beginning it’s all about a few people and they’re the jack of all trades and trying to do as many things as possible. Then you start getting specialized, and a lot of people tend to specialize in terms of the product lines that they own. I have a different approach, I think it’s best to structure in terms of how your customers are purchasing the product. So, if you orient your teams around certain solutions, initiatives that the customers are taking, I think, that’ll serve you well, and that also gives you agility and fluidity you need as the strategy of the company evolves, as you scale, to restructure the team, again, based on how customers are purchasing from you. So, that’s the way that I structure my team.
Ursula: Your metrics change, obviously, so that’s the first thing you say. You think about is this product now created for upsell, which you’ve got your existing customers, so it’s a great strategy to do so. It really doesn’t change, actually, it’s just the mindset shifts, because your metrics just are shifting to upsell, and I think it becomes more account management. So, you’re rather than arming the sales team, or you can be arming the sales team. You’re also arming your account management team to sell
Indy: I think one thing that changes is, tactically, there might be some core product marketing disciplines that you can take to task to do that. pricing and packaging comes to mind. You may want to think about, if my goal now as an organization is to upsell, are my things packaged in the right way? If you were just focused on conversions and net new customers, you probably were not thinking about pricing and segmentation, as a way to foster that upsell opportunity. You may want to go back and really think about, are my things packaged in the right way and am I talking about them in the right way? That would be at least one thing that comes to mind.
Astha: I think in addition to that, your go to market execution changes. The teams that are involved in selling, that drastically changes. I can tell you, like in organizations where you have brand new product launches, or you’re just trying to sell existing products to new customers, you tend to leverage your SDR teams, et cetera. When you’re upselling, you have to focus on what the value propositions are for existing customers, and how you engage the account teams more. From an enablement perspective, the focus changes on, how do we tell a compelling story to existing customers and what additional value are we really providing for them?
Ursula: Also the success organizations and customers success then can also be the pool that also enables the upsell.
Astha: In a nutshell, the short answer is a lot.What I do want to do here is give due credit to our creative team. I think we have a super strong creative team. We can have the best messages, and we can create the best content out there, but the delivery, the way it comes to life, and pictures and videos, et cetera, that is our masterminds and the creative team, who do a fabulous job. So to me it’s a partnership, from the ground up, meaning whenever we’ve had a new project or whenever we’ve had branding and messaging refresh, in addition to the videos and stuff, we uplevel the messaging.
If you remember the tagline for those of you who keep track of Zendesk. Relationships are complicated, used to be our tagline years ago. Because we play in the CRM space, it was all about maintaining great relationships with customers, et cetera. But as the company evolved and we started selling more and more upmarket and to enterprise customers, we started thinking differently about, you know, how we go about and make more than just a statement. How do we tell companies what we can help them do. So, when we went through the refresh last year, product marketing took the lead on doing a bunch of surveys, because I’m a big believer that with messaging, for those of you who are in marketing and product marketing or brand, everyone has an opinion on it. And you can’t really compete or discuss opinions rationally.
So, I am a firm believer in backing things up with data. And we did qualitative, quantitative surveys, both, internally with our employees, and then, of course, with our customers as well. And the result was that beautiful partnership that I talked about with the creative team. And now we’ve upleveled our messaging as well, and if you go to our website, instead of Relationships are complicated, you’ll see, We help companies become the companies that customers want them to be. So, it’s beautiful, it’s simple, very close to our ethos. Become the company your customers want you to be. It has a powerful meaning to it. And that also tells you that, we are here to help you with that. And the subtag there is , The best experience is that built with Zendesk. We remain a company that is averse to buzzwords and fluff, and all that stuff. We speak in simple terms that people can understand, because we think that we are marketing to people, and not necessarily brick-and-mortar companies if you will.
Indy: The relationship between product managers and product marketing is really important. If you’re a product marketer and you don’t talk to product, then there’s something wrong. I don know if this is still the case, but when I was at Salesforce, product was in a different building. We would get some of the messaging strands all the way from like Marc Benioff, who famously knows exactly how he wants to steer the company. But to me, it’s an essential partnership. Engineering and product, figure out what the plot is, of what you’re going to be doing, and then product marketing can help you build the narrative If you remember me talking about alphas, betas, and GAs, in the interim period, where you’re testing the product with a small amount of customers, that’s when you really have got to be in sync and keep your ear on the ground as a product marketer, listen to what people are saying about the product, because, all of a sudden, something that might have been like voted a priority in prioritization for product people and, “we want to build this because this is cool” but other people are like, “people need this because they can’t get anything done if they don’t have this.” Your job as a part of marketing in particular is to be more attentive to those kind of things because you can parse what the customer is going to say, as opposed to what engineering might be hell-bent on wanting to build and deliver. It’s not always the case, but that’s where the partnership works really well.
Ursula: Also, product marketing should always be on sales calls and really speaking to the customers. All of a sudden, you have customer, product, marketing to product. So, you’ve got all of that information that really connects nicely, with product marketing being right in the center of that.
Astha: My team contributes or represents the voice of the customer. We run the market strategy in competitive team as well, so, for us gathering information on win-loss, gathering information on churn, regularly keeping in touch with our customers, helps us sort of build that credibility with the product team. I don’t really care much about the organization structure, I think you have to look beyond the silos. I’ve been part of product marketing teams that were wrapped under product teams and then here, that’s not the case, we’re under the marketing team. But to me, that partnership is absolutely critical, but then that relationship is only meaningful when you’re doing your part and really understanding your customers better. And you need to own that, as a marketer, as a product marketer.
Astha: When you start talking to customers as frequently as they do.
Ursula: Invite yourself to the meetings.
Astha: I think that’s absolutely important. Split up the work, product and marketing is about= being an expert on the product and the market. And the market, basically, is a representation of your prospects and customers. Getting a strong hold of that is important to build that credibility. There’s no other way, there’s no shortcut.
Sylvain: I would also add on that that the best way to win the heart of a sales team is to, if you train them properly on how to push your product, and you enable them to sell more, usually that brings a lot of credibility and they will love you for it so that’s a great way to show them that you support them.
Astha: Listening is important. Just listen to customers, both internally and externally. One of the things that we did differently with the sales enablement team, when I inherited it back in January of this year, was to apply that same customer journey mindset thatwe applied to our clients that are paying us. So, when you think about sales enablement, you have to treat them as your internal clients, and listen to their needs, what are they struggling with, and that comes by not only by just being a part of the conversation with them, but then being with them in their situations, meaning customer calls and keeping direct touch with the customer.
Sylvain: I have one final question for the panel. Hopefully, if you weren’t convinced that you need to hire product marketing, you should be convinced by now. If you were giving advice on hiring the first product marketer, what would be the thing to look for in those first candidates?
Ursula: I would say how well they can tell the story, and how well they can get the leadership team aligned to work with them on creating a consistent and cohesive messaging manifesto.
Indy: We were talking earlier about minimum viable positioning. I think you need somebody who can come on the ground and help ask those questions. We were talking before this panel, about how so many of the conversations with early stage founders, you realize that they’re not even in sync about what they’re building and why, until you start probing around. Hey, what’s your messaging, what’s your narrative? So, I think somebody who can deliver, help that narrative, it kind of goes hand in hand with the platform that you’re building. To me a good platform’s a good story, but a good story is also a good platform.
Astha: It’s also important to keep in mind that, the answer to the next set of requirements is not going to be consistent. So that depends on what the company is doing, what kind of market is it operating in, and is it highly competitive, and the goal is first to get some brand awareness, and then move towards more differentiation.Those factors definitely play in. Storytelling, that’s just key.
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