The time’s arrived once again to place one of our product marketing experts under the figurative spotlight and give them the credit they so richly deserve, with the Expert of the Month award. 🏆

Last month, Nicholas Gregory, Global Head of Sales Enablement & Effectiveness at Qlik, scooped April’s accolade, and now, we’re thrilled to announce the Expert of the Month for May is… 🥁

Holly Watson, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Amazon Web Services (AWS)! 🥳

Host of PMA's Ready, Set, Go-to-Market podcast and instructor for our upcoming virtual Go-to-Market workshop, Holly has committed her product marketing career to fostering stellar working relationships and has firmly established herself as a bona fide subject matter expert.

A passionate Go-to-Market specialist, Holly works closely with the product team at AWS, devoting time to defining and implementing new product development. She has a thorough understanding of the sales process, its contribution to successful customer acquisition, and its vital role in retention and adoption.

During our chat, she gave us an insight into:

Holly’s journey into product marketing and Go-to-Market

Please could you tell us a bit about your career to date and your background in Go-to-Market?

“From a young age, I always wanted to work in technology so that I could travel either for work or simply where the internet was available.

“Based in Austin, TX for many years technology startups were abundant, but to feel qualified, I learned a little front-end development and landed my first job in a small fintech organization. Working in the startup atmosphere is an opportunity to learn skills beyond the job you were hired for.

“While I worked in marketing, I also designed websites, ran press releases, worked with sales and customer success, configured new tools, and spent hours with developers and product managers understanding the development process and roadmap. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was learning product marketing.

“I moved on from the fintech organization to a larger startup where I got my first official role in product marketing. Here, I worked to first understand and research how to launch products.

"At startups, nothing is built, and templates don’t always exist, so much of the job is learning how to be scrappy, look for resources beyond what is given to you, and make programs from scratch.

“Through years of trial and error with many cross-functional teams, we slowly built out a Go-to-Market (GTM) process that met our needs. Much of that process was rooted in uncovering and articulating the needs of other teams.

"For example, what inputs were needed from Team Y so that Team X could create the next output? What timelines are reasonable? How can we scale our process up and down based on the size of the launch? Countless templates, frameworks, and methodologies were produced as we all worked to figure out what worked.

“Today, I draw from that experience regularly in my corporate role leading larger product launches.”

Essential Go-to-Market skills

What skills do product marketers need to refine to execute an awesome GTM strategy?

“Product marketers work across departments, and it's not uncommon for product marketers to work more with their cross-functional teams than their fellow product marketing teammates, therefore, communication is essential.

“When leading a Go-to-Market strategy, it’s important to be able to communicate the plan, be clear on how and when you’ll need support from each member, and downstream impact felt when dates slip or deadlines are missed.

“This means product marketers need to: 1) understand the workstreams and processes of their colleagues, and 2) practice empathy. For example, understanding the sales process, how revenue is recognized, and the incentives your product provides to sellers, to name a few.

“You don’t need to be an expert, but you should be savvy enough to know what questions to ask, and how to align your pricing strategy or sales enablement plan to your sales team’s workstreams. This is valuable when trying to gain adoption of your GTM plan from internal stakeholders with full plates of other priorities.

“As for empathy, it’s natural for dates to slip, priorities to change, and emotions to waver. Launching new products isn’t easy. Practice empathy, but have a clear understanding of the implications so you can communicate trade-offs - i.e. If X is missed, communicate that it impacts XYZ and you’ll have to adjust your final deliverable.”

Holly joined Product Marketing Insider host Lawrence Chapman at the PMM Summit in San Francisco, where she discussed how success is measured at AWS. Check out a preview below, and tune in for the full discussion.

What to expect from Holly's Go-to-Market workshop

What can product marketers learn from your workshop that’ll help them take products to market with precision?

“The workshop is designed so that product marketers can learn how to design their own GTM plan - independently, and how to communicate their strategic plan to others across the organization.

“My goal is to teach you how to use a handful of templates and frameworks like a launch plan, launch tiering mechanism, and a bill of materials (BOM).

“From there, I teach you how to think strategically about putting these templates into action. After this class, you should have a toolbox of resources you can pull from to approach your next GTM project with added confidence.”

Holly’s motivation for becoming a coach/instructor

What motivated you to become a coach/instructor?

“It’s fun! Two “whys” come to mind. First, when I was just starting my career in product marketing, there wasn’t a solid guidebook or even an understanding of the role. Some of the work my team and I did at the startups I worked at was spending time helping other departments understand what we did and the value we provided.

“As an instructor, my goal is to help remove the ambiguity some may feel in their role. I want to help my students find confidence when they take on their next project. To do this, I teach a mix of theory and practical approaches to getting work done.

“Throughout the class, I weave in case-based scenarios so students can get started to understand the applications of the lessons, what to plan ahead for, and how to make smart pivots throughout the project.

“My second “why” is because I believe there is strength in mentorship. I had several great mentors and managers throughout my career - still do. The opportunity to engage with a leader in the field you are in is invaluable. I aspire to be a resource for my students that can help answer questions, add a touch of clarity to situations, or motivate.”

Transferable advice for improving your Go-to-Market

What's the one piece of advice you’d give to PMMs looking to improve their Go-to-Market skills?

“Find ways to get involved in a launch at your organization. You can do this in several ways.

“You can shadow another product marketer as she leads a launch, volunteer your time to a different product team to support GTM tasks, and speak with your management team to help identify the right size of GTM you could lead now.

“Whatever approach you decide to take, get started! Challenge yourself to not only look at the task you’re given but also how it fits into the bigger project at large. This will refine your critical thinking, communication, and stakeholder management skills in parallel.”

Join Holly's Go-to-Market workshop

Holly's upcoming virtual workshop will take place as two 90-minute sessions (August 24, 31, 2023, 9am PST / 11am CT / 12pm ET / 5pm GMT), with the two-part structure enabling you to go away and digest the learnings before coming back for more.

During the two sessions, you’ll examine a case study with Holly, and begin to create your own GTM strategy, incorporating key stakeholders, budgetary constraints, and timescales into your strategic plan.

You’ll also refine the offering and prepare your launch plan, before presenting to your peers at the end of the workshop and receiving immediate feedback from Holly herself.