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 seven we speak to the Natasha Katson from JetBrains

Full transcript:

Bryony Pearce - PMA  0:00
So if you could just start off by letting everyone know a little bit about yourself, so your name, where you're, from where you currently work and that kind of thing.

Natasha Katson  0:08
Alright, so my name is Natasha, I work at JetBrains as Product Marketing Manager, and I work in Saint Petersburg in Russia.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  0:19
And how long have you been there for?

Natasha Katson  0:21
For three and a half years.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  0:23
Okay, awesome. And then before you joined the company you're at now, what did your career journey look like?

Natasha Katson  0:32
So I went to university and my major was PR and marketing, and then I started in tech when I was still at school and then I started as marketing manager and worked for several years as a marketing manager in different tech startups. Then I started to do project management and product management, and then I thought that I really liked the combination of projects, product, and market, so I thought it would be great to find a job as a PMM.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  1:11
And would you say your previous roles in kind of marketing and project management set you up quite well for a career in product marketing management?

Natasha Katson  1:20
Yeah, especially the products that I work with because I work with YouTrack, a job risk management tool, so I was really aware of the audience because I was the audience, so it was a really good fit.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  1:42
What would you say attracted you to product marketing the most? Is there something that, that had that marketing didn't or?

Natasha Katson  1:56
The ability to be close to the marketing and to be close to the product. Because my team, I can influence the product developments, not directly, but like, I can talk to the team and I can tell them, like, share my thoughts of what I think about it, and I think it's really great that it's not just marketing so it's not just outbound marketing, also inbound work.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  2:24
What does your current team look like? How many people are in it and what's the kind of dynamic?

Natasha Katson  2:28
So the teams at JetBrains are like different small companies. So it's a full stack team, I think there are 29 people in my team and it's technical writers, PMM support team, developers, team leads, etc.

Bryony Pearce - PMA
And in terms of having a team that's so big, how do you keep on top of the communication side of things?

Natasha Katson
For the whole team we have daily stand ups and so yeah, we follow scrums so we have retrospective, and like, every second Friday we have planning and demo. And even though like there are two different locations, the team is distributed between Munich and St. Petersburg, we do have calls and talk on Slack.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  3:30
Awesome. And then if there is such a thing, what does a standard day in your role sort of look like?

Natasha Katson  3:35
Ermm coffee? So I start with coffee and then I usually check my Gmail and then I answer in YouTrack because we work in YouTrack as a tool. Ermm, I answer tickets, or I have like overview of the tickets in Zensesk, so that I'm aware of what's going on in the community and everywhere. And then I usually get back to my tasks. I either work on some campaigns, like marketing campaigns, or if we have a release then I work on product releases. It actually depends on the time of the year.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  4:28
Yeah. And how many releases would you say you tend to typically have maybe a year or quarter?

Natasha Katson  4:34
I have three major releases a year and my bug fixes but from like a marketing perspective, there's three major releases. That's what takes up so much time of the year for my work.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  4:47
Okay, cool. And then outside of the product marketing team, which teams would you say you have the most contact with in terms of sales, product, operations? And how are your relationships with those teams?

Natasha Katson  5:01
So I work with different teams. As a PMM, I'm a part of the product team and also of marketing team but mostly like in a communication way, like I literally sit with my product team and then I communicate a lot with designers, not product designers, but designers like a website, and with those who are responsible for the website. Also sales but not really in a typical way, we mostly communicate about current customers. By the typical way, I mean, like, we don't do pre-sales and everything. I do prepare some documents for them and we do have some sales enablement, but it doesn't take up much of my time.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  6:01
And then you said you report to product at the moment, has that always been the way in product marketing positions? And do you have a preference of whether it's product or marketing?

Natasha Katson  6:11
Ermm, like 10 years ago at JetBrains product marketers, but there were only three of them, they were part of the marketing team. Then they switched to product teams and since then it's always been product teams. So if you join marketing team, like you could join the company is a PMM, you would belong to the product team.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  6:38
Yeah. Okay. And then what would you say the top three skills are that have helped you get where you are today in product marketing?

Natasha Katson  6:49
Communication skills, the ability to quickly get to the information and be able to deal with it, and ermm, well, for my company, I would say some technical skills because our products are really technical.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  7:16
So then, what would you say your favourite part of product marketing is? Is there a certain side of your job that you prefer to others?

Natasha Katson  7:25
My favourite part is to be able to try different kinds of things and see how it works. For example, I can try to change things in the product and measure it and see if my ideas affected anything, or I can try and do some creative, really cool marketing campaign and see how it goes there. Ermm, or I can just talk to our customers and just get the answers to my questions really quickly, and so to be able to like, listen to someone who said something. It's really cool to be the centre of everything.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  8:17
Sounds awesome. And then would you say there's a lot of crossover between what you do and what a product manager does?

Natasha Katson  8:26
We don't have product managers here.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  8:28
Ohh okay, that's the first time I've heard that since I've been doing this series!

Natasha Katson  8:34
So we do have team leads and I'm, for example, if I'm talking about my team, it's a team lead who does partly what a product manager does and we do have a scrum master, so mostly we share product marketing activities. So yeah, at JetBrains, there are actually no product managers.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  9:05
Interesting. And has that always been the case that they've never had product managers?

Natasha Katson  9:10
Yep. I think last year someone joined one team but it's a really rare case.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  9:17
Okay, so then would the team lead, I guess, would they be the person who is like, more closely linked to the product manager position? Or is it something that you just kind of all share out between you?

Natasha Katson  9:32
Yeah, yeah, I would say team lead looks like he's the person. We share a lot, but mainly team lead is like product manager, yeah.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  9:44
Okay, that's really interesting. So then if you don't have product managers, what does the process of introducing new products or features look like?

Natasha Katson  9:54
To the customers?

Bryony Pearce - PMA  9:55
Well, just in terms of ideation. So who kind of comes up with these products and features and who takes the lead on that?

Natasha Katson  10:05
Yeah, umm, so since the product is really, it's not new, it's been in the market for years and years, we do have an open issue tracker, we have a lot of requests from our customers and our backlog is really huge. So our Scrum Master, she ermm, before we have planning, she and the team leads, they work together and look at all of those features, like the backlog, so umm, it's actually hard to say it's not really a typical process here. We do have a roadmap for like half of the year, we even publish it in our blog so it's public. Umm, but the way we choose these features, it's either like we choose the most upvoted features, because we can vote for them, or we just like look at the different functionality that we think we should have that our competitors have.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  11:22
That's really interesting. And would you say you have quite a lot of influence on the roadmap as a product marketer?

Natasha Katson  11:28
I don't have a lot of influence, but I do have some influence. So everyone in our team has a vote, but as a PMM I can share my knowledge about our competitors, for example, and of course, while working on the backlog, team leads and our Scrum Master, they will think about it.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  11:54
Okay. And then penultimate question. What, if anything, do you think needs to change about product marketing?

Natasha Katson  12:15
Hmm, maybe, well usually product marketers don't have much influence on the product, so I would change that, because it's, it's a great feeling to influence something.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  12:34
Yeah, I guess it's nice to see as well from start to finish to be involved and then you see the whole journey that way.

Natasha Katson  12:39
Yeah, yeah.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  12:42
And then last question, if there were any new or aspiring product marketers listening to this podcast, what would your advice to them be?

Natasha Katson  13:03
To read a lot about the field they work in because it's really necessary to be aware of everything that is going on. Umm, to have much coffee.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  13:19
Just to let everyone know who's listening to the podcast, you are drinking coffee as we do this as well, for context.

Natasha Katson  13:28
And also, just not to like, of course I think there is a lot of routine work we do everyday, and like, I advise you not to think of this role as a routine job. There is a lot of exciting things to do and I advise you to try them and to always try new things.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  13:55
And in terms of reading up about the industry, do you have any sort of go to resources that you'll check in with regularly?

Natasha Katson  14:03
Hmm. I just like, I just read a lot about the industry, Medium or TechCrunch, or I subscribe to our competitors' newsletters and they publish a lot.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  14:20
Okay, awesome. Well, thank you so much for your time today Natasha, it's been really interesting speaking to you.