Head of Product Marketing at Farfetch, Eve Brill, shares with us how she transitioned over to a role in product marketing and her top tips for others wanting to make the move, how she elevated the role of PMMs at Farfetch and her advice for others looking to do the same, plus the three most important skills she believes have helped her grow the PMM function and her views on the future of the role.

Full transcript:

Lawrence Chapman - PMA  0:01

Today I'm delighted to be joined by Eve Brill, Head of Product Marketing at Farfetch. A product marketer with expertise in fashion technology, Eve has a wide range of experience in areas such as platform technology, marketplace growth, marketing communication, and B2B marketing to name a few. During the show we'll be exploring Eve's role in product marketing, as well as her route into the industry in more detail. But for now, a huge welcome to the show Eve.

Eve Brill - 0:29

Hi, Lawrence.

Lawrence Chapman - PMA  0:31

Thank you so much, first and foremost, for taking the time to speak to us, we're really looking forward to having you on the show. And I guess there's only one place to start really so what is it that made you want to become a product marketer in the first place?

Eve Brill - 0:45

Well, I think I have to be honest in answering this question, I wasn't actively searching for a product marketing role. I actually fell into it, which I think is the case for a lot of people within the industry. I was very interested in fashion, commerce, technology, I wanted to work for a tech startup. And I was interested in working on the B2B side of the business. I had an interest in marketplaces, and all of these kind of very serendipitously rolled together when I saw a product marketing role advertised at Farfetch. And I then began to do some research into what is product marketing? What is the difference between mainstream marketing, I think we could call it, and product marketing? And how does it operate within the business and the more I read about the business and the more I understood about this specific role, I became really excited about it thinking, "Wow, this is actually an exact role that brings together all the things that I'm interested in".

Lawrence Chapman - PMA  1:55

Fantastic and to be fair, I can kind of relate to falling into product marketing accidentally and not coming through into the industry directly and almost wanting to do it straight off. I've worked in all sorts of areas, including education for one, so it is quite strange to find myself landing in product marketing. So I can completely relate in that sense. So what did your first role in product marketing look like?

Eve Brill -  2:26

So my first role in product marketing was at Farfetch, which is the company I'm at now and I've been there for three years. Originally, I had a slightly different product marketing role than I do know, I was a maternity cover, actually. And that is a bit of a tip for people looking to get into these kinds of roles that there are short term contracts available as well. But I was a maternity cover for a product marketing role on our marketplace farfetch.com. And so overall that role was looking at the way in which our technical product, so our app, our website experience, etc, could be optimized to improve the experience of our luxury end customer. So that was a B2C role using the product of Farfetch's app and website - marketing that to our customers.

Lawrence Chapman - PMA  3:31

Okay. And in terms of any tips for people who may be wanting to make that transition into product marketing, I mean, of course, there are many people who are making that transition into the area, what tips would you give them? Are there any kind of golden nuggets that you'd pass their way?

Eve Brill -  3:54

For me, I think I would say there are probably two main things to think about. The first one being, don't have the mindset that I've not been a product marketer before so I can't be one now. I think, I guess generally in the marketing roles and in the technology industry, we do have a free flow skill set, but particularly for product marketing, because it's a relatively new and establishing skill set that really I've found from product marketeers, that they're people with very diverse backgrounds and interests that have, in various ways, either consciously or unconsciously ended up in a product marketing role. And in my career experience, I think this is the most diverse skill set role that I have seen. And you have many people who have a technical product background, you have some people who have, for example, an analytics and research background that have come to this, you have people with a design and creative background. I've also met people who have had a more mainstream marketing background, perhaps in brand marketing or performance marketing that have been attracted to product marketing because of the broad scope that you can achieve. So I think the first thing to think about is what skills do you have that can be used within product marketing? And I think the second, the second tip, I guess, for people in that way, is to look at things, you know, not to kind of look at things in such a linear way that maybe there are, for example, for me part-time positions that you can try and get into or perhaps you can look to start at an organization that has a growing PMM function with the future opportunity to move into that. So I think, really, the advice to me would be to think about your skillset and how you can apply that to a product marketing role. And also look around the problem in different ways and part-time jobs or different roles that may relate to product marketing that may enable you to cross over into that.

Lawrence Chapman - PMA  6:27

Okay, fantastic. And just going back to what you were saying about your team that you've got in place at the minute at Farfetch, can you tell us a little bit about the team in terms of how many people you work with on a day to day basis and their respective roles?

Eve Brill -  6:42

Yeah, so we have a reasonably small team. There's three, almost four of us in the B2B side of the business that I now work in. We also have a separate product marketing team for the consumer side of the business, the B2C side of the business that's roughly the same in size. So there are approximately eight product marketeers within Farfetch. So it's a small team, but our growth is high. And as we have, I suppose established relationships with a lot of stakeholders across the business, there has been this kind of organic need for more product marketing. And I think a lot of that is around education of what product marketing is. And I can totally relate to that because five years ago, I didn't know what product marketing was and I didn't know how it impacted the business. What's the difference between product marketing and a product team and a marketing team? And it's perfectly understandable that people within organizations don't understand that. So as we've been clear on our mission and vision as product marketeers within Farfetch, and we've used opportunities that we have had with different stakeholders to prove the value of product marketing within the business, it's grown and grown and now we work with multiple teams and multiple functions across the business to respond to their needs that are being recognized for product marketing.

Lawrence Chapman - PMA  8:12

That's actually really interesting that you say that because, I mean, there are some companies that don't have a product marketing function at all, of course, and even in instances when a product marketing team is in place, there can be confusion as to what a PMM brings to the table. And when we were conducting our research for the recent State of Product Marketing report, just 5.1% of product marketers that we surveyed said that their respective teams and stakeholders in their organizations understood the role fully of the product marketer, they had a 100% understanding of what a product marketer did. So as somebody who has successfully set up a product marketing team, did you in those initial stages encounter any considerable challenges and in your opinion what can be done to enhance the understanding of the role in companies whereby the understanding perhaps isn't so great?

Eve Brill - 9:09

Yeah, I mean, I think there are always challenges to establishing a new function. And probably the challenges that I face would be the same for someone establishing many other functions within a large business - identifying stakeholders, identifying a clear role for your team, taking on projects, being included in the right conversations, allocation of budget in order to execute your activity, etc. But I think specifically when you ask me about advice for product marketers who are kind of one-man bands or a very small team trying to establish themselves within the organization, I think, I mentioned it before, I think it's really important that you as a team are very clear on what your mission and vision is so that you should be able to be united in that and to take that message out to the different stakeholders within the business. So as a product marketing team, we want to achieve this, we have a vision of this for the business, and these are the types of activities or projects that we would work on in order to make an impact on the business. It certainly in my business, and I think in many other technology businesses, it all goes back to the growth and the money that you can bring to the business and how you're going to impact the overall metrics that are important to the business. So I would always think whether you're a one-person or 16 person you need to show how every person in your team is impacting the wider business through your metrics, but also through your action and your activities. To me, it's also about proving your value which is the same in any role, that people can kind of say, "Okay, I understand what your mission and vision is, I understand what your goals are and I understand what results you're telling me you can impact". But until you've actually run a successful campaign or achieved a project with a successful outcome, or impacted those metrics, it's very difficult to prove yourself, I think.

Lawrence Chapman - PMA  11:24

Absolutely, I can see where you're coming from. So in terms of when that product marketing team is in place,  I mean, there's no set place for where a product marketing team sits as you'll well know, but in your case, where does your team sit and from your perspective, were should, in an ideal world, a product marketer sit in order to deliver their optimum value to their colleagues?

Eve Brill -  11:57

Yeah, it's an interesting question that's discussed loads amongst product marketers, and in fact, at the PMA conference that I was at in December, they ran a survey on this. And the results were very much split, which says a lot to me about the maturing nature of the product marketing function. But it may also show that there is no one size fits all answer to this, we sit within the product team as part of the technology function within the business. And that feels right for the nature of the projects that my team does and the structure of the stakeholders that I have. Obviously, there are many product marketing teams that sit within marketing. And I can see having spoken to other product marketers who have that structure that also makes total sense for them. So I don't think it's really about where should it be, but I think it's more about within your business the metrics that you are responsible for, the types of projects that you are leading, does it make sense that they are product-led? Or does it make sense that they are part of the marketing arm of the business? And I think those are questions that each individual PMM has to answer relating to their specific roles.

Lawrence Chapman - PMA - 13:21

Yeah, I know exactly where you're coming from, in that sense. I mean, I suppose it's like anything, there's no one size fits all approach, and I suppose, obviously the same can be applied to product marketing. Brill, thank you so much, and so at your company what does the process of introducing new products and features look like? And how does that compare perhaps to other product marketing procedures that may be in place that you've encountered personally?

Eve Brill - 13:56

That's really interesting because this question kind of relates back to what you were asking me before in terms of challenges that I faced to establishing a new function of product marketing within a bigger business. How we launch new products, the processes that we have to do that, how we work with our stakeholders, the way in which the products are taken to market, that's been very much a work in progress and a huge amount of effort from my team, in order for us to actually establish what happens there and how that system runs. So we are a very integrated part of the roadmap process, we have a very detailed understanding of what's coming up in our pipeline. At the same time, it's our responsibility to be the voice of our customer and to understand what product needs and features our customer has as well in order to influence the roadmap. So for us, it's really not a linear process, it's very much a work in progress. And as establishing as our business grows, as our client base grows, as the needs and features and the way in which the product team develop and build roadmaps, we are finding our way as to what the role of product marketing is and how we respond to that. So I find that exciting because I love working within a role that is changing, that the needs are constantly changing, and we need to yes, set processes but we always need to be aware of the fact that these are going to be constantly adapting because of the nature of our business and the industry that we're in.

Lawrence Chapman - PMA  15:47

Okay, looking at, specifically, product launches, I mean, communication is a huge part of a successful launch, but in addition to communication what would you say your top three skills are that you would consider to be almost like the top three skills that have helped you get to where you are today, what three skills as a product marketer do you implement within your practice?

Eve Brill - 16:20

Three? Okay. I think...

Lawrence Chapman - PMA  16:22

I know there's quite a few I do apologize.

Eve Brill -  16:26

Multiple, multiple skill sets. I do think that product marketing is a multidisciplinary skill set. However, you're asking me the top three skills I think I've used to grow the function. The first one is actual clarity of communication of product marketing. So being really clear about what product marketing can do internally and therefore translating that into what will be in a product launch, in a piece of customer research, in a marketing campaign, what will be our specific role within that? So I think that ability to be able to communicate effectively, not just in terms of marketing communications, but in terms of corporate comms and internal communications to stakeholders, I think that's been really an important skill for me in establishing the function. Second skill set, which I think is important, I would say for every product marketer is the ability to work with stakeholders and stakeholder management. We never do anything that's just us working, just my team working on the project. We're either taking budget from another team, or we require product development from the product team, or we need buy-in from the commercial team. It's never just us and it's always a fine line of stakeholder management and understanding the stakeholder needs and how to manage that throughout the process is often just as important as the actual process itself. And I think the third thing is being able to think creatively. I really love creative product marketers, because I think it's so important to be able to approach product marketing challenges in an innovative and creative way. And often in marketing, there can be thinking that "Oh the creative side is just the advertising and the communication side", but it's not, it's the whole way in which you approach taking a product to market, innovative ways that you can speak to customers, that you can reach customers, looking at customer research and analysis in a creative and fresh way to see how you can take those insights and apply them to effective product marketing campaigns.

Lawrence Chapman - PMA  18:59

Absolutely. I mean, innovation is a huge ingredient in making you stand out from your competitor, ultimately, isn't it? I can totally agree with you there. So, going back to what I was saying before really, with so many people looking to transition into product marketing and appreciating how great product marketing is, I mean, obviously, there's an element of bias from our side, but to any new or aspiring product marketers who may be listening to this podcast, what would your advice to them be? What advice would you give them?

Eve Brill -  19:41

Well, I think I would actually give them a pat on the back for listening to this podcast because it shows to me that they're trying to understand the industry. And I think that that's really, I honestly think that that's a huge first step for everyone to take, understand what product marketing is. Read the, I guess slightly limited, blogs and literature that there is out there to understand what product marketing actually does. And it's a difficult question because as we've talked about, and as every product marketer knows, there isn't a single answer to this and it's multifaceted, and it's different for different organizations. But I would say, develop your understanding of it, speak to product marketers, just have a chat with them like we're having a chat now, to understand what does product marketing mean, actually, to you? What skill sets do you as a product marketeer think are important? And get a better grasp of what you think product marketing is and as I said before, how you think your skills are relevant to product marketing. And I think that I guess almost helps you to understand the level at which you might fit in and if you feel that actually, this is something that you're interested in, but you don't have any skills at all that are relevant to this then maybe it's a case of taking a sort of junior entry-level position. If you've had 15 years of experience in advertising and performance marketing and product development, for example, but this is something you really want to get into, I really urge people, as I said before, to explore and understand what product marketing is and map what skill sets they feel that they have already that are transferable to this. I'm very, very confident from those types of jobs that I've just mentioned that there are relevant skill sets. What I see in a lot of applications to roles within my team, is that people don't understand what product marketing is, or certainly they're not communicating through their CVs what they think product marketing is. So I would say in summary, anyone looking to get into product marketing, do your research and find out more about product marketing, and then take a think about how that's relevant to you. One actual final thing, I think, that would be good advice for people is to do a bit of research into companies that have existing product marketing teams, big or small. There are some of the large technology companies that have larger product marketing teams, they're more established. And therefore, I would say they're more likely to give people with a relevant skill set, but not product marketing experience, a chance to sit within an experienced team. It's a bit of a hard sell for someone who hasn't had previous product marketing experience to be establishing a function straight off the bat. I'm not saying that doesn't happen, but that's a bit harder. So maybe look for those technology companies and do a bit of research into the ones that have, you know, five or 10 people in a product marketing team which in the UK, I would consider to be a large product marketing team.

Lawrence Chapman - PMA  22:52

Okay, and, of course, we are going through unprecedented times at the minute with the current pandemic. How has remote working impacted your ability to complete your core responsibilities as a product marketer, if at all? And if so, do you have any tips on how product marketers can continue to contribute their value and demonstrate their value to key stakeholders during these challenging times?

Eve Brill -  23:22

To me, personally, speaking from only my own personal circumstances, working from home and the global pandemic has not had any effect on my ability to deliver against my expectations for this year. That's a number of factors that are specific to me in terms of my own circumstances, the business that I work in, and the nature of the specific product marketing that I do. I appreciate that it’s not the same for everyone. I think one thing that I've mentioned a few times already is the importance placed on a product marketers’ relationship with their stakeholders. And it's very hard to build that relationship remotely. And I totally appreciate that. But I do think if you're kind of new in the role where you've got new stakeholders for new projects, which always happens with product marketing, I think it's important to invest time and look at ways that you can engage with them in a virtual way in order to establish those relationships. So for example, having Zoom calls and speaking through Slack or whatever messaging system you use, is a way to keep in contact with stakeholders, but maybe there is a worthwhile time just to have one to one conversations to kind of understand more about their role, get to know them a bit better. The way that you would probably do as you're waiting to go into a meeting or, you know, grabbing a coffee together or something. I think there's a lot of value within making time to do that in the remote working world that we find ourselves in now. But I appreciate that is a challenge. I think if I did have this challenge, I'd be maybe looking at reassessing which projects are my priority and which ones do I feel that can be delivered remotely and successfully and potentially reevaluating where my time goes based on those projects because there has to be some work that you can still add value to remotely if there are barriers to not being within the office. I suppose this is becoming less and less of an issue as the workplaces start to open up, at least now, in a way, but I think everyone needs to work out how they can still contribute value and how they can run their projects in a remote environment because this may be predominantly how we work for some time to come.

Lawrence Chapman - PMA  26:03

Yeah, absolutely. I suppose it's just a case of being amenable to change, isn't it? Which kind of rounds me off very nicely, last but by no means least, what do you think needs to change about product marketing to take it almost to yet another level?

Eve Brill -  26:26

For me, it's not a change, it's more an evolution and I think we're going in the right direction. Gathering together product marketeers, talking together, sharing knowledge, almost making it a fully-fledged industry, that has a huge impact on I think, how we as product marketers can operate, the network that we have, and building our confidence to be able to get ideas of how we can implement product marketing within our own business. So I love podcasts like this, the conferences that have been held, I appreciate going forward that's tricky. But any opportunity to actually get together as product marketers and share knowledge, the evolution of that, to me, is going to have a huge future impact for people within the industry, people looking to get into the industry are educated and the overall understanding of what product marketing is. And to me, I think this is the kind of groundwork for us to really have product marketing champions who can drive our function within the UK, if you go to America, it's much more established, it's much bigger, you have really big product marketing teams that from my understanding actually have a slightly different role than most of us here in the UK have. So I don't think there's change as you say, I think it's evolving in a brilliant way and actually evolving quite rapidly, I guess, as the need for product marketers grows.

Lawrence Chapman - PMA  28:00

Positive change.

Eve Brill - 28:03

Positive change and I think the more that people discuss and listen and understand each other's experiences and the more people that feel passionate about product marketing and want to get into the industry have those opportunities. I think that's a really important part of the future of this.

Lawrence Chapman - PMA  28:19

Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me, Eve, it's been an absolute pleasure and all the very best and thank you so much.

Eve Brill - 28:31

Thank you. It's been great. Speak to you soon.