Welcome to the Product marketing insider podcast brought to you by the Product Marketing alliance.

Behind the scenes, we’ve been talking to lots of product marketers from across the globe to get insider info about their journey into the world of product marketing.

In episode four we speak to Kirk Bentley at Pop

Full transcript:

Bryony Pearce - PMA  0:00
So if you could just start off by telling everyone a little bit about you, the company you work for and what sort of activities you do there.

Kirk Bentley - Pop  0:08
Yeah, hi, well, my name is Kirk Bentley, I am the Business Development Director at a company called Pop and Pop is a digital advertising agency. And so Pop works with, you know, a lot of the biggest brands in the world, folks, like, you know, Target, Microsoft, Nintendo, but we're also a product company, and we in about 10 years, created a small suite of digital marketing products. So these are products that allow marketers to, you know, do things like create and send email marketing campaigns, or send social updates or send SMS, and then they can track you know, all all of their campaigns and look at how they perform. So we market that specifically to arts, entertainment, cultural, museums, and attractions. So we work with about 600 of the world's best known brands in that industry. So you know, you can if you can think of, you know, like the the local symphony in your city or the museum, whether it's a science museum or an art museum, they're probably one of our customers.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  1:21
And how long have you been at Pop for?

Kirk Bentley - Pop  1:24
I've been at Pop for coming up on 14 years, though, it's actually a funny story. So before this, I was actually in kind of the production and the advertising world. So I worked at a recording studio and I was doing radio and TV commercials, and also working with new ad agencies who were kind of getting started with the web and making websites and back then websites had sounds on them, you know, you click on a button, and it would make a pop sound or, you know, things like that. So Pop used to come in and work with me as an audio engineer, one thing led to another and they they told me, hey, we are launching, you know, this new product that's geared towards arts and entertainment, and, you know, cultural venues, and with my background, and music and audio engineering, they thought I'd be a really good fit and kind of already know the customer. And they turned out to be right, it was a great fit and I I started, I moved over there, we just had about maybe 30 or 40 venues. And over time, you know, we've really blossomed and grown this thing into a really nice little business. So yeah, that's that's kind of how I got started in this crazy bracket.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  2:41
So when you first started Pop to now has your role evolved quite a lot over the years, would you say? it?

Kirk Bentley - Pop  2:45
Yeah, quite a bit. So, you know, when I started, basically, we launched this product about 10 years ago, so there was a little bit of time, you know, we were just kind of like gearing up and building everything and getting the getting the software ready to launch. And so, you know, when I first started, I was doing, we're a small team, there was just four of us at the beginning. So I was doing all the support. So you know, I had my headset on, and people would email me or call me and I would answer all the questions about how to use the product, I was doing trainings. And then I was doing all the sales. So that included all the sales demos, you know, webinars, anything like that. So, yeah, I really learned, you know, over the course of this 10 years, basically everything about how to run a software as a service business,  and a lot of that was really, really about learning the customer, and really getting focused on what their needs were, and really just hearing from them all the time. Working on that support queue really helped me understand. You know, people always talk about personas, but I really understand the people who use this software, and who are our customers and what their business needs are what their personal needs are, what their dreams are of just like their career and what they want their life to look like. And that was enormously valuable to be able to learn all that stuff, by doing the really hard work of, you know, being on a support queue, and doing sales and product demos, and so it's really evolved. You know, now I have a small team that does all the support. I've got a small team that does all the lion's share of the product demos, I still work on, you know RFPs, my title is still Business Development Director, but now I really focus on sales enablement, Product Marketing releases, doing the go to market strategy, the messaging framework, and just making sure internally that all the team members are really on message when we launch a new feature or a new product, we're all saying the same thing, it all makes sense, you know, from a customer perspective. So that's kind of my role now, it's leadership on just, you know, how do we talk about this product?

Bryony Pearce - PMA  5:09
Yep. And it terms of when you first got to Pop, did you have any kind of mentoring given to this role? Or would you say it was quite self taught?

Kirk Bentley - Pop  5:18
Yeah, it was all really self taught. I mean, we, you know, they brought me in specifically to help launch this product. And really back then, you know, Software as a Service, the SaaS product that was just kind of getting started. I mean, there was certainly Product Marketing, you know, long before that for, you know, retail, or, you know, B2C products, but this whole b2b, you know, business tool, online product thing was really in its infancy. So yeah, none of us knew what we were doing, we were totally flying by the seat of our pants, had no idea and, and really still, yeah, it's been very difficult to find mentors in this space. I think, pretty much, you know, I think a lot of people just in general who are working in the digital marketing field, are just kind of figuring it out as they go along, you know, especially the folks that are mid career, you know, when we started, digital was in its infancy and we were just like, okay, this is the internet, let's figure it out.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  6:25
And is there anything you'd change about how you kind of got into? Or do you think it was quite important how you were just kind of chucked into all these different angles and getting an understanding of like, the whole picture?

Kirk Bentley - Pop  6:34
Oh, that's a good question. You know, I never really think about that. But yeah, I don't think I would change that at all, I will say this, it's funny because I was just reflecting with a colleague on the engineering team about this, he was one of the, the four people that started this with me together. And, you know, he was just reminding me of how hard it was for me to be on that support queue early on and what a challenge it was, and what a change it was from kind of being in the driver's seat as a post production engineer, to moving into this position where I'm getting inbound, you know, angry customers, and people are, you know, 'ah' this doesn't work and that doesn't work. Yeah, it just, you know, all the things you run into when you're basically a startup and a brand new product, it was tough. But I would not change that. It gave me a tonne of resiliency, it really forced me to learn just everything about the product and everything about the business, I learned everything, just you know, about how to do support, how to do sales, how to do billing, how to talk to execs you know, just just the whole thing. So no, that was, like, invaluable for me in my career, that starting point. And even today, you know, whenever we hire anybody, we have them sit on the support queue for a week or two because it's so invaluable, that training helps you learn who the customer is.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  8:03
Awesome. And then in terms of nowadays, if there is such a thing, what does a standard day look like for you? And what kind of jobs will you be doing?

Kirk Bentley - Pop  8:11
Yeah, it does vary a lot. Um, so there's sort of like an ongoing, you know, since I also, you know, my role is really just about growth, and, you know, the business, expanding and growing. So definitely just monitoring how the sales pipeline is doing, how the different deals are looking and just advise, you know, I'm just there as an advisor. So, you know, if, if anyone has questions, you know, how do we push this forward? How do we close this deal? Are there materials we could send to this particular prospect? Is there any sales enablement material that we could send, or that we're missing? Y So that's just kind of ongoing and then, of course, along with that, there's, you know, sometimes some ugly contracts, you know, things that I get called into as sort of the, you know, as the director, you know, sometimes I have to weigh in and make decisions on that stuff. So that's kind of a constant foundation. But more than that, really, it's, it's about planning for the next sprint. So it's working really closely with the engineering team and the product team, figuring out okay, what's coming up in the next sprint, and then basically planning all the marketing for the release and making sure that we've, you know, that I've got all the information about what the new features are going to do. And kind of figuring out, okay, how do we tell this story? Like, why is this important? Why did we build this thing? So yeah, there's a lot of copywriting, there's a lot of just dreaming up new ideas, dreaming up stories, figuring out how to talk about this stuff. So that's a big part of it. And then we do a lot of events. So I travel around the world world a lot. And, you know, I'll usually have one or two events a month where we'll go off to a trade show or a conference, so I'm usually putting together some kind of talk that is, you know, usually about our industry, but also has a little training and a little marketing about our product as well. So, yeah, I'd say, you know, that's pretty much the whole of it, I sprinkle in a little social media here and there, and, you know, talking to our partners, and thinking about how these releases will affect our channel partners, you know, we're integrated with a few other products that are in this industry. So sometimes when we release a new feature, it might change the way the integration works, or changes our relationship a little bit. So, you know, working on all that stuff. And then yeah, I think broadly just like, you know, managing the growth of this product and retention, and making sure we're all on message that's that's kind of the main, the main mission.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  10:58
Yeah, it sounds like you've got a nice bit of variety there still.

Kirk Bentley - Pop  11:03
You know, it's not boring. It's not boring at all.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  11:09
And in terms of your team, you said you manage a few people? What does that look like, who have you got in your team and how big is it?

Kirk Bentley - Pop  11:15
Yeah, so I think our team's like 15 or 16, strong now. Pop, you know, Pop is a is a big, you know, digital agency with about 150 employees. So it's interesting, we have our main offices in Seattle with about 100 folks there and then we have another office down in San Jose, Costa Rica, which might sound unusual, but actually, a lot of digital agencies have offices in places like San Jose, and it's a wonderful country full of really, really smart, really well educated people. So we opened an office there several years ago. So that's actually where most of our support team is, is down there we have some folks who are on support, we have QA, we have a few designers down there. And then the rest of the team is up here in Seattle. So you know, I work really closely with the customer experience team, which is, you know, kind of what we call call our sales and service team. And then, you know, I manage just basically like a business development representative of one. And so he and I work on these deals really closely together. And again, you know, he does the lion's share of all the demos and things. So, you know, my role is really just to make sure that both of those teams are kind of saying the same thing. You know, if we go to a conference, or a new prospect comes into the pipeline, you know, we might close that deal and sell the product in a certain way and make promises about what it will do and, you know, the kind of services they'll get once they sign on with us. And then we want to make sure that that handoff is really seamless when, you know, the sales representative hands that off to you know, the customer experience team, so to make sure that everyone says the same thing and we're all you know, talking about this the same way. So, again, yeah, it's a it's a pretty small team. So we all wear a lot of hats, including me and everyone else.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  13:19
And so is everyone you manage based in Seattle with you, or do you manage some people that are in San Jose?

Kirk Bentley - Pop  13:24
No just right here in Seattle.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  13:28
And in terms of teams outside of product marketing, like sales, product, operations, whatnot, which ones would you say you kind of talk to most on a day to day basis, and what are your relationships with them like?

Kirk Bentley - Pop  13:40
Yeah, so I, the person I work, I work with a few people really closely. So we have an overall sort of like product owner, who is just kind of overseeing and she's sort of our advocate at the rest of the agency. And she's just kind of overseeing, overall the business. And so I report directly to her, she's the Chief Operating Officer at Pop. So she's kind of making sure she, you know, she makes sure that all the finances are looking good, that the numbers look good, that the growth is solid. She and I work together to set sort of like growth, you know, KPIs, so, you know, what percentage do we want to grow? Just making sure our churn is in line that it's not, you know, turning into a black hole of churn or anything, which has never been a problem for us. And then just, you know, working together strategically, really big vision, how do we grow this business? What's our next step? You know, broad view, what kind of features and products do we need to be looking at 2, 5, 8 years down the road, you know, where's the industry going? So there's a big strategic part and element that I work with her on, but the more day to day stuff, and you know, that doesn't happen every day, you know, it's a several conversations a year, right. But then day to day, I work really closely with one of my favourite people in the world, who is the product experience director. And so she really kind of acts as just the gatekeeper for how everyone experiences this product from the application itself, to you know, how people interact with our sales, or sorry, our support team. And then also she touches on branding, overall, overarching branding. So she and I work really closely together day to day, talking about what features are getting built, why they're getting built, what customers have requested, she handles and takes in a lot of the customer requests. I meet with customers when I do my travels, I take a lot of notes and pass those on to her. So she and I work really, really closely together, you know, both on just the app and how it works and what it does and why it does what it does. But also just on explaining that, and she you know, she's a designer, too. So I'm not I'm not allowed to use Photoshop, so she does, you know, she does all that stuff, so she had another designer do all the the kind of, you know, if we need images for email marketing campaign, or images for social or for a one sheet, you know, things like that. And then also she and I get to do all the fun stuff, which is, you know, what swag do we bring? What colour are the pens? What does the brochure look like? You know, do we need some of that kind of stuff? And then, of course, a little bit with engineering as well. You know, they're always in the mix, of course, you know, what these applications can do is obviously dependent on the technology, and you know, what's available and what's possible these days. So he weighs in a lot on that, you know, and just saying, like, yeah, that that's not going to work, or that's not possible, or that is possible, or what about this idea? So he shines a light on things that maybe, because me and the product manager, you know, we are fairly technical, but you know, we're not engineers, so he can often shine a light and show us things that we may not have thought of yet, which is really helpful. And then lastly, of course, yeah, I work with, you know, my sales team, just making sure that they have everything they need, walking through the deals. And yeah, definitely talking to, you know, the customer experience team, and just, you know, not quite so much with those guys. But, you know, things always come up and people will write in questions that I might have to answer, or they might be questions about the account or about their bill or, you know, things like that.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  18:16
So it sounds like you've got a pretty sweet setup anyway, but in a dream world, is there absolutely anything you'd change about any relationships you have with other teams within the business?

Kirk Bentley - Pop  18:30
You know, that's a tough question to answer because I don't really know much different, you know, I haven't worked with that many other products. teams, so I can't say but, you know, I was just, we just went to like a little product management lunchtime session the other day, and lots of other product people were there. And there was a speaker, and they were asking questions and stuff. And, you know, the director of customer experience and I just kind of looked at each other, like, wow, we're so lucky. Like some of these people sound like they have it really rough, you know, road maps that are just kind of like handed to them, feature requests that just come down from some executive who has no idea what's going on. So I don't think I would change anything, like we have a really great setup, we're really customer focused, you know, we really promote this product as a collaboration between us and the customer and they really have a lot of say in what we build and how it works. And we usually launch just kind of like, you know, an MVP feature set, and then they weigh in and we give them lots of opportunity at events and on our websites to write in. So I don't think I would, yeah, I can't think of anything I would change off the bat. I mean, it's a, you know, we've all been together for so long and we're just like a little family. You know, all families have their troubles, we're not perfect, but, you know, that's fine, it works pretty well.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  20:10
Yeah, it sounds like a good setup on the go.

Kirk Bentley - Pop  20:13
Yeah, it's pretty good. I mean, you know, I don't know, there's always like tools I'd like to have or, you know, infinite budget for technology or whatever, everybody wants that stuff.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  20:28
What would you say the top three skills are that have helped you get where you are today?

Kirk Bentley - Pop  20:33
Oh, that's a good one. Um, I think I'm just a really curious guy. So I think I'm just really curious about business in general, like, I'm always reading about startups, about how other businesses run, how they operate. I've just, you know, probably I should have started my own business, you know, I'm just kind of geared that way. But I was too scared and like, not organised enough to do it when I was younger. And so yeah, I think curiosity is a big thing. Everyone on our team is really curious just about what customers want, how they use our tool, who they really are as people just getting into their psychology. I think that's served me well. I think I'm, you know, I'm a pretty creative guy, you can see I've got a guitar back here, and I've got a whole bunch of other music equipment off to the side you can't see.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  21:24
Are you volunteering to give us a demo at the end of this?

Kirk Bentley - Pop  21:27
Yeah, so a lot of music, and I publish music and write music. I think that has really served me well, like, especially when we first started, I was able to get in there and make product videos and do voiceover and right music and just like, be a one man sort of, like, marketing shop and just be able to do a lot of that creative stuff and learn how to use these tools, you know, audio and video editing, and just like being able to, you know, do all that stuff, and along with the copywriting. So I think just having a broad creative skill set, you know, I think that's sort of, I feel like that's sort of something you're a little bit born with, but that you can cultivate too. So I think having that. And then lastly, I think, you know, it's probably just really being able to collaborate and cooperate and be someone who brings people together, which is something that I think I've been learning more recently, is something that I need to do and do well. And it's one of those things that hasn't always come easy to me, because I think sometimes people who are really creative like to work alone and think they know how to do everything and want to do it their way. So that's been something that I've been learning, like okay, I need to bring people together here and get their input and their ideas, and help them do their thing, instead of me telling them how to do what I want. So yeah, I think those those things are kind of what I see as a good foundation for a product manager, because you really do, you do need to bring people together, you need to be able to roll up your sleeves and like do copywriting and do stuff and like make stuff if you have to. And I think you just need to be curious, like to run a good product to run a good business, you know, I think you just have to have excitement and energy and enthusiasm. So yeah, I think those are good qualities that people should look for if they're hiring somebody for this.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  23:46
Awesome. And then have you had any kind of regrets in your product marketing career that stayed with you?

Kirk Bentley - Pop  23:54
Yeah, I mean, I definitely think back to, well, let's see here. I, I think that, um, you know, regrets are always a tough one, aren't they? Yeah, that's a little tough.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  24:18
We can wait by that one if you want.

Kirk Bentley - Pop  24:20
Yeah, I'm not sure I have a great answer for that. I mean, I know, I do have regrets. I usually don't think of it that way. You know, I usually think of them as mistakes and I try to learn from, but yeah, I don't know, I'm having a tough time with that one off the top my head. But I think probably that, that my, one of my bigger mistakes I've made has just been like, probably trying to just plough through with my way or the highway sometimes just be like, this is the way it is, this is how we're doing it. You know, and not really understanding and letting people shine on their own. You know, I know, I've definitely had some problems with, you know, working with not on my team, but we used to use some of the designers at the agency to do some of our launch marketing and stuff like that. And, yeah, I've definitely, I didn't really have a lot of training and how to be like a creative director. And I know I screwed that up a bunch of times. I just like, not clear on my brief, not clear on what I wanted just kind of like here make something cool. And they'd be like what? So yeah, I definitely learned a few hard lessons on that one. I'm trying to get better but that's not an easy thing to figure out. You know, I think again, you know, when you work with creative people, it's just tough. And as a creative person, it's tough for me, because I'm like, here, I'll just do it and, of course, what I could do is never nearly as good as what an actual designer can do you know, so yeah.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  25:50
I've had the exact same thing recently. I was trying to like, I'm not a designer, or anywhere close to a designer, and I was trying to be stubborn and thrifty and kind of build and design my own website. I thought, yeah, I'll save money, I'll do it myself. So I spent hours and hours, evening on evening trying to do it. And then I kind of put it together, it still just looked absolutely bobbins and I didn't dare count how many hours I ploughed into making this website, then in the end I thought I'll pay a designer to do it, it didn't even cost that much because it's not a big website, the results were just worlds apart. And I was like, what was I thinking trying to design an entire website with zero experience?

Kirk Bentley - Pop  26:32
Well I suffer from that. I'm just really bad because I'll hire someone to do it and get it back and be like, well, I could do better than that, that's not any good. So yeah, I'm working on that skill but it's hard.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  26:47
Well if you learn how to do it let me know, because I'm really struggling myself. Any tips appreciated. Okay, so in terms of your role and the role of the project manager, would you there's a lot of crossover at Pop?

Kirk Bentley - Pop  27:03
Um, a little bit, I mean I think that the biggest amount of crossover is really that, you know, it's the the product kind of manager who is our, you know, customer experience director and me, we definitely crossover the most in terms of our roles. And so yeah, it's been a little tricky, just kind of like defining those roles. You know, I don't think we've ever really, we just sort of like, let it sit there. And, you know, let each of us try to do what we do best. She definitely runs all the sprints, you know, she works really closely with engineering, she likes to build the product. And I like to talk about the product. And she gets that. And I think we've both seen over the years that, you know, she's far better and more organised and more thoughtful and more inventive than I ever could be when it comes to like building a product. I don't want to do that. I would not be good at that. It would be a disaster and I would destroy the business. But I am good at talking about the business. And that's probably something that she would say I'm better at than her. Yeah, I just love it. Like, I'm a performer, I love getting up in front of people and talking to people. I like coming up with big ideas, but I really need her to help me like, make the idea. You know, I pitch like, hey, let's do this. And she's so good at like making my big dream a reality which is something that I just have to have, like, she's just like my soul mate in that creative space. And so yeah, I think we really cross over a lot. And then of course, there's crossover between me and my sales team. You know, he and I work pretty closely together. You know, I did his role for many, many years and just, you know, did demo after demo after demo, and went all over the place, you know, meeting customers and sitting down with them and working with them, interviewing them. And so he started to do more of that. So, yeah, there's definitely cross over there. But, you know, not with engineering or any of those other folks like, I'm not, I have no idea what they're doing.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  29:21
You know, everything else, so you're covered.

Kirk Bentley - Pop  29:23
Yeah and you know, and then again, also, I mean, I think just from, like, I mentioned this other person who is the product owner, who's the chief operating officer at Pop. We cross over a little bit too, you know, in terms of just beig strategic business thinking, you know, just kind of like how to run the business, what the numbers look like, so we cross over there a little bit.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  29:51
It kind of sounds like with your set-up though, I know it sounds like some people kind of need those clearly defined lines to make sure people aren't infringing but it sounds like with your setup they're not needed as much and it's a lot more fluid.

Kirk Bentley - Pop  30:02
Yeah, I think just because we're a small team, you know, sometimes you just have to roll up your sleeves and do what needs to be done and that's a big part of how our team works. It's something that we have to train new employees on sometimes, just say, like, look, I don't know, Google it, figure it out, go and like propose a plan, come up with an idea, pitch it to us and make something, build something, do something. I don't know, I've never done this before either, and a lot of people coming in, sometimes, not a lot, but sometimes they just don't get that. They look for guidance and direction and leadership and like, here's your instruction manual. We don't have an instruction manual. So yeah, everyone's just kind of like, you just have to go for it. Like, just go do it. You know, don't wait around for someone to give you permission or instructions, just make it happen. And so yeah, with that sort of framework you know, I think having really strict rules might make it harder.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  31:09
I think that sounds quite nice as well. From an outside perspective, anyway, I think it gives people's roles a lot of scope, I guess, doesn't it, if they're not kind of refined into just doing, you know, these set frameworks every day?

Kirk Bentley - Pop  31:20
Yeah, I think so. I mean, I think, you know, I don't have a lot of experience in that again, but from my understanding of talking to other people who work at much larger organisations. Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, usually large organisations are just much more specialised, it's like, okay, your job is to just, like, bang out this copy or bang out these images, you know, here you go. Like, just do it over and over and over. And for us, it's, it's kind of constantly evolving and changing, you know, obviously, just like any job, there's stuff you have to do every day, you know, someone has to demo the product, someone has to manage the pipeline, someone has to make creative assets. But there's always new stuff coming in and out, you know, and I think that's part of my job as the Business Development Director and the guy in charge of growth and building this business is, is to make sure that I'm sort of a disruptor to bring in new things and like, bring us new opportunities that shake things up and everyone's like oh,my God, okay, how are we going to make this work? You know, that's kind of my role and so yeah, sometimes people don't like me for that.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  32:33
Keeps them on the toes. They'll thank you for it in the long run. And then in terms of new products, what does the process look like at Pop for that?

Kirk Bentley - Pop  32:50
Yeah. Okay. Um, so, you know, basically, we're constantly collecting customer feedback through all kinds of inputs. That might be through just customer support, you know, someone saying, hey, this doesn't work as well as it could or I found a bug, here's something broken, or whatever. But then also, people give us ideas about like, yeah, it'd be really cool if I could use your, you know, email image editor, like outside of the campaign process, like, can you make it just like a standalone editor that I can just do all my image editing in? Okay, that's a great idea. So what happens then? So then, customer experience director, she, she works, she talks to engineering, and also like, just like, the front end engineers, you know, JavaScript people, can this be done? You know, they spec it out, how long would this take, is it one sprint, is it two sprints? So they figure all that out. And then she makes, she puts it into a sprint plan and she has a whole thing that she puts up on Confluence with like you know the name of the sprint, what's in it, you know, just basically explaining, like, everything about what we're going to build. And then she and I, after that's done, we'll sit down together, hopefully there's like a prototype or it's on our dev or staging or something, so I can go and look at it and play around with it. And then I start thinking, okay, what's the story about this? Like, why did we make a standalone image editor? What's cool about that? Why is this valuable? What are the benefits? How will people use it? And then that's like going in tandem, you know, we're like, her and engineering on the product side, they're still completing the sprint and I'm a little bit behind, working on all the marketing materials, getting everything going, and then we sort of meet at the end and usually, like, just a week before, or whatever, you know, we finally get all the assets going, I get the email ready to announce the new feature, we start, like, putting all the assets together for all the other stuff, we have sort of a tiered system. So we we sort of have it mapped out like, okay, this is just like kind of a, you know, a regular old boring release, like it's down here. That's like a tier four. And that's just like, bug fixes, you know, quality of life updates, nothing really special. Like, I'm not going to do a webinar for that, you know, but if it's at the top of the pyramid, and it's either like, you know, a big new feature launch, or even a new product, you know, not long ago, about a year ago, we just launched a whole new product which is a survey tool. So now you can build emails and surveys, all in one product. So you know, that was like a whole new product with new pricing so that's top of the tier and that required a lot more product marketing, talking about everything and webinars and travelling. So you know, yeah, there, again, we kind of wing it but there is sort of a little plan that we go through. And then of course, sometimes everything gets thrown out of whack, and like, product and engineering come to me and say, um, yeah, we're not gonna be able to get this done in this sprint because we found out there's like this weird dependency, we have to fix this other thing first before we can do this, so, you know, then you just got to figure it out and come up with some something else to talk about on the email, or, you know. So that's pretty much how it works. Not set in stone but.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  36:45
Penultimate question, in your opinion, if anything, what needs to change about product marketing?

Kirk Bentley - Pop  36:53
That's a really good question. Um, again, a little tough because I haven't done a lot of product marketing and other organizations o I haven't seen, you know, how it works. But I think, you know, some of the some of the issues that I heard at the product marketing summit down in San Francisco resonated a little bit. I think that definitely at bigger organisations, product marketing's not brought in early enough. So, and say with startups, you know, it's all marketing, like, nobody's going to buy a product that's not marketing well, that's not well thought out, that's not promoted properly to the right market. So I think bringing those product people on early, that's a big deal. And I think also making sure that they have a say at the table, making sure like, I'm lucky, I work very closely with the product and engineering team and we're sort of like the leadership team on this whole crew. So I feel like I have a voice at the table when we're looking at new features, looking at new products, I'm involved in pricing, I'm involved in just strategic thinking about how this is going to work, is it going to sell? Is it going to grow the business? Where could it take us? And I don't get the sense that a lot of product marketers really have that seat at the table and I think it's pretty important. I mean, I like having the business development role title, because it also just sets me up as someone who clearly is, you know, I'm not just about marketing, like I have a real stake in making sure that this product grows, and my compensation is based on that. So I think having more accountability as well for product marketers, if they had a steak at the table to actually give them compensation based on growth and KPIs and how the product is performing, would really elevate that role, you know, sales people, I think that a lot of product marketers would do well to spend some time in sales and support and really understand how sales works. And understand like how a lot of products, I think in general, a lot of marketers are not close enough to sales, they don't understand the customer, they don't understand account reps, or sales reps. And I think like yeah, giving them that seat at the table and making sure they're really working closely with, you know, the chief sales officer, you know, the Chief of sales or head of sales and the head of marketing and the CEO, making sure that they're really like upper echelon, managing that product, go to market strategy, I think in a really high level is really important. And I think sometimes, I think that product marketing is not viewed that way. And that it's almost kind of like a lower role or maybe just like a content marketer or an introductory marketing role. So, you know, I think that's what I would say, it's probably just not seen as important enough, maybe, when it's probably one of the most important things. You know, there's a million engineers out there who can build your product. There's a million product managers out there who can run the sprints. But do you really have someone who's got a voice at the table, is really creative, smart, knows your market, who knows how to build a business?

Bryony Pearce - PMA  40:23
That's the common consensus I've been getting kind of across the board, especially in these interviews, is that there's just not enough value placed on the product marketing role within businesses and that's an industry-wide problem, I think.

Kirk Bentley - Pop  40:35

Bryony Pearce - PMA  40:36
Okay, last question. I know we're tight on time, if there are any new or aspiring product marketers listen to this, what would your advice to them be?

Kirk Bentley - Pop  40:45
I would say, if you're trying to get into it, you know, definitely a role at a digital agency, just as a general marketer will give you some idea, a lot of digital agencies are starting to work more with startups. So there might be opportunity there to work with a lot of different startups and a lot of different product launches or feature launches. But I think to really do it and really get good at it, you're going to need to go to a startup and roll up your sleeves and get in the mix. Or you're going to need to go to a big company that has a lot of products that you can work on a small team. And I would say just like any of these roles, if you can try to find something that maybe nobody cares about, or nobody is looking at, it'll give you a good sandbox to get in there and make as many mistakes as you need to, to really learn this, there's a lot of pressure at startups to have high performing, high revenue, just really high growth products, and that is not a great way to learn how to do anything. You know, my motto in life, when I'm learning something new is don't be afraid to suck. Just really get in there and just like don't worry about it, you know, just like learning any other thing you just have to try a bunch of stuff and be creative and throw a bunch of stuff at the wall and most of its going to be terrible, but that's how you learn how to do good work. So yeah, that's what I would say, you know, try to find a small startup or even a small company that just, you know, really needs help doing this where you can get in and run it.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  42:21
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for your time today Kirk, it's been really, really interesting talking to you.

Kirk Bentley - Pop  42:26
Yeah, thank you so much. A real pleasure. I'm going to just run off here because I've got another appointment.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  42:31
Okay, awesome. Thanks again.