Hey, you. Yes, you! Did you know… we’re coming out with a brand-new book very soon?
Yep! It’s called Product Marketing Misunderstood and has been created by our very own CEO, Richard King, and Chief Marketing Officer, Bryony Pearce. (So you know you’re in great hands!) 🔥
Pssst. You can order your copy right here.
What’s it about?
It’s a common pain point within the community that product marketers are often undervalued and underestimated because of the lack of understanding around the roles and responsibilities of a PMM. This book is dedicated to taking the guesswork out of how product marketing is perceived.
Read Product Marketing Misunderstood and it’s guaranteed that you’ll become confident in proving your value, be able to establish your authority as a PMM, and never struggle to explain yourself again. And most importantly, you’ll go from…
Misunderstood, to understood.
But for now… here’s a sneak peek into what you’ll get when you make the purchase.
Chapter 5: First Impressions Count
To hit the ground running in any company, and at any level, you need to focus on building key relationships early on so you can extract the information needed to effectively demonstrate your value in the future.
In this section of the book, we will:
- Focus on what to find out when you’re new at a company.
- Look at the importance of research (whether you’re new or have been in the role for a while).
- List the key questions to ask key members of each team.
- Show you how to devise internal personas.
Getting off to the best start
When you join a new company, you need to learn where you fit before you can make any kind of impact. You’re probably used to doing extensive customer research—now it’s time to research your internal counterparts.
In the first two weeks, you should schedule time to speak to your senior managers, your chief product officer, chief marketing officer, chief strategy officer, chief revenue officer, etc. To set the right foundation straight away, ask them what they want from you, how you can help them, how they want to communicate, how they want to work with you, what their current pain points are, and so on. Your manager will be best placed to tell you who the most critical stakeholders are for product marketing.
You might find people are more open with you and will tell you what they’re thinking with fewer reservations because you’re a new person. This gives you a great opportunity to get to the heart of problems quickly and look at challenges with fresh eyes. You may even be able to suggest solutions that are more creative than someone who’s been in the job for years because you’re less fixed in how you think about the company and the product.
That said, if you have been in a company for a year or more and you haven’t done the get-to-know-you step, it is still important to do it now. Not having sound internal research will limit your effectiveness no matter how long you’ve been in the role. Start putting in some meetings with stakeholders and understanding what is happening, almost as if you are starting new. Make sure you position why you’re having the meetings—as it won’t be obvious. Say something like, “You know, we are revisiting some of our priorities for product marketing, so I’d love to take the opportunity to sit with different team members and learn about what’s working and what’s not working.”
You need to work with people how they want to be worked with. For example, your CMO and CEO will want different things from you; they’ll want to communicate in different ways, and it’s really important to grasp this. If you don’t, it will cause friction and lead to problems—and that’s not productive for anyone.
By having meetings with the key people in different departments, you’ll be able to use the information you glean to understand how to deliver value to each specific team. For example, your sales teams aren’t going to want the same things as your product teams, and your customer service teams will have different needs as well. It’s up to you to learn their requirements of product marketing, and then work to meet those requirements in a mutually conducive way.
Your action plan
Action point #1: If you’re new to a company, do your research. Make a list of all the people you need to speak to, and start booking out time in people’s calendars.
Action point #2: If you’ve been at a company for a while and already had conversations with key stakeholders, ask yourself a few questions: How long ago did you have these meetings? Is the information you gleaned from them still accurate? Have priorities changed? Have internal structures or job roles changed? Are there new/different stakeholders who you should have a relationship with?
Action point #3: If you’ve already been through this process and are going through it again, before you head into the meeting, write up your notes/takeaways from the last time you had this conversation. This will show that you’re prepared and that you listen, and it will enable you to easily see what has changed.
This process doesn’t stop there. You will need to break down your findings further and think about the different personalities in each team. As a product marketer, you’ll be used to creating profiles of the people who buy or use your products. Now, you must use the same skills to create internal personas for your stakeholders outside of product marketing. This will help you market yourself to people within each department more effectively. Think about things like their personality traits, their objectives, their wants and needs, internal and external challenges, and the size and structure of their teams.
You can then use this information to create a one-pager on each key person. This will help you immensely, especially if you work for a big organization, because you can look at these sheets before meetings to remind yourself of the personality traits of the people who will be in attendance. One way of looking at these one-pagers is that they’re like the personality assessment tests you sometimes have to fill out when you apply for a job.
Once you have these personas, you can tailor everything to suit your internal audience. For example, if one person loves detail and wants to know the ins and outs of everything, they would love a twenty-slide deck to go through events. Others might want a five-minute phone call or a quick email with a few bullet points instead.
Here is an example one-pager:
Title: Head of Content and Education
Team structure: Bryony manages eight internal copywriters.
- Ensuring the company’s content strategy obtains MoM growth and is always in line with what customers want and one step ahead of the competition
- Building out and launching innovative products—both paid for and free—that solve problems for product marketers
-Driving sales across the company’s portfolio of products through tactical and strategic marketing campaign.
- Managing multiple simultaneous products and campaigns across several community lines
- Measuring the success of individual release.
Bryony prefers either in-person meetings or phone calls. She’s to-the-point and will always opt for a numbers-led approach, where possible.
From persona to personality tests
Personality tests are another way of really understanding your key colleagues, and did you know, more than 88 percent of Fortune 500 companies now use personality tests as part of the hiring process? If you haven’t done one yet, you’ll probably be in the minority. Some of the most popular are the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), Enneagram, DiSC, and Caliper Profile.
Personality tests can help hugely during the hiring process when trying to decide which candidate would fit better into the existing team and company culture. They can also be useful long term as they can indicate how someone will react to situations, which personality types they will gel with (or not), how they perceive and process information, and how best to communicate with them.
G2’s CMO Ryan Bonnici grew his marketing team from five to around sixty-five in a year. He’s joked that that time was “utter hell,” and that he “wouldn’t advise it,” but it was worth it to find the talent he wanted so they could target other audiences.
Having so many people join the marketing team within a year could have caused issues, but thanks to personality tests, Ryan was able to create a harmonious working environment. On everyone’s laptop is a sticker that displays their personality test results—what sort of interaction they like, etc. This means that when people approach them, they know how to interact with them to get better results.
Whether you go for personas, personality tests, or both, the byproduct is stronger relationships. Think about it: the same way you send targeted and tailored marketing messages to customers to strengthen the customer-to-company relationship, personalizing your approach internally enhances your PMM-to-stakeholder relationships.
Show your value
Hosting initial meetings and building trust in each department, unfortunately, isn’t enough. You also need to show them what value you’re going to bring to each team. It’s a thankless task but must be done if you want to be an effective product marketer.
Use the defining product-marketing slide deck from Chapter 1 and show it at these meetings. With the slide deck, you’ll be able to show what you are here to do, what you have achieved in your previous companies, and how you can help each department hit their specific targets/achieve their goals. Even if you have been at the company for six months or more, the slide deck is still a great tool. You can highlight some of the great work you and your teammates have achieved in your time with the company, and how it has impacted the department you’re presenting to.
In an ideal world, these meetings would happen face to face. Having a conversation in a room with someone allows you to build a better relationship than a conversation over email. If you are working from home or work in a different state, face-to-face meetings might not be an option for you—so try and have video calls rather than a standard phone call. You want them to feel like they’re getting to know you, and seeing your face is essential for this. You’ll also be able to read their body language and dig into things together, further building a connection.
Before you go into any initial “getting to know you” meeting, it can be useful to be prepared with a list of questions you want to ask.
We‘ve put together our favorites to get you started. Take a few minutes to highlight or underline the questions that are most relevant to you, and don’t be afraid to add your own. (Definitely don’t ask every question, or your meetings will feel like an interrogation, and you’ll end up burning bridges rather than building them!)
Key questions to ask
- What do you expect from me, so I can help you succeed?
- What are you primarily responsible for?
- How would you like us to work together?
- What are you excited about right now?
- What aspect of your job do you dread at the moment?
- What were you most proud of last year, and how can you better it?
- How do you define success?
- What challenges stand in the way of you getting your job done/hitting your targets?
- Who else should I speak to?
- Do you ever feel restricted in what you are able to do?
- What are your team’s goals?
- What are your three biggest problems/stresses at the moment?
- What are your team’s objectives?
- What are your current barriers to those objectives?
- How have you worked with product marketing in the past?
- What key obstacle stops you from selling more?
- What are your top-performing reps doing that your others are not?
- What kind of feedback do your reps get from lost deals?
- What keeps you up at night?
- Where do you think the line of product marketing and product management should begin and end?
- What’s your utopia vision for how we’ll work together moving forward?
- What are your biggest pain points right now, and how do you think we can help break them down?
- What is something that’s missing right now?
- What would you like the product marketing team to focus on more?
- How do you envision product marketing slotting in with the wider organization?
- What impact would you like product marketing to have?
- What gaps does the company have, and how can product marketing help fill them?
- How will/would you measure product marketing’s impact?
- What do you see as the company’s biggest barriers over the next twelve months?
- What is the company’s biggest strength?
- What is the company’s biggest weakness?
- What is the marketing team measured on?
- How do you think product marketing can help you meet those goals?
- What kind of activities do you usually partner with product marketing on?
- What are your most successful channels to date?
- What are your plans for the next quarter?
- What does your relationship with product and sales look like?
You’re so welcome 😏
Get ready for the real deal - Product Marketing Misunderstood is set to be released on April 19th! We can’t wait to share this with you.
Order your copy, and get stuck in.
To keep you warm until then, check out our specialist eBooks which focus on product marketing OKRs and personas, and discover a whole host of recommended titles in our product marketing reading list.