Full transcript:

Mark Assini  0:03

Hi everyone, and welcome to the Product Marketing Life podcast brought to you by the Product Marketing Alliance. My name is Mark Assini, Product Marketing Manager at Jobber. As part of this series, we're connecting with PMMs all over the world about various product marketing topics.

Today's guest is Alison Grenkie, Director of Product Marketing at Loopio. Alison has spent over a decade in the B2B SaaS space across a variety of marketing and product marketing roles. A writer by nature, Alison excels in crafting compelling product messaging and is an expert in all things go to market.

After recently raising their series A round of financing, Loopio is accelerating the development of their RFP response software. Designed to help streamline the way enterprises respond to RFPs, RFIs, and security questionnaires, Loopio is helping over 1000 well-known brands turn RFPs from a revenue blocker into their competitive advantage.

Alright, with that out of the way, let's get into it. Hey, Alison, how's it going?

Alison Grenkie  0:52

Hi, Mark. I'm good thanks. How are you doing?

Mark Assini  0:55

Good. Thank you. Thanks so much for joining me today. I'm looking forward to it.

Alison Grenkie  0:58

Yeah, absolutely so am I.

Mark Assini  0:59

Awesome. So let's just get right in. Can you tell our listeners a little bit more about you, your product marketing journey, and how you found yourself at Loopio?

Alison Grenkie  1:07

Yeah, sure. So I always say I fell into product marketing. I've always been an avid reader and avid writer, which is really what led me to marketing in general. Because back in high school, I was sort of thinking to myself, okay, I'm kind of decent at this writing thing, I enjoy it, what is a practical way for me to use this skill to make a living? Then when I discovered product marketing, I was really fresh out of school, I was just a marketing assistant at a company called Intelex

At the time, our head of marketing was starting to think about hiring for the company's very first product marketer and I basically just threw up my hand and said, "Me, me, pick me". I was invited to a meeting, I remember, I was very nervous, I laid out my best case for why I thought they should promote me into this role rather than going externally.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into. But I learned on the job as the organization grew, I was really lucky, I had more opportunities to sort of grow with them and learn. Flash forward eight years or so, Loopio I think, is the fifth B2B technology company that I've worked for.

I joined as Loopio's Product Marketing Director in July of last year. So right in the middle of the pandemic, always a fun time to switch things up. It's been a little over a year now, I guess. I wasn’t looking for a new role at the time, which is always the story, right? But I remember seeing the job posted on LinkedIn, I had three former co-workers who were working at Loopio and I knew they were all really happy.

I was kind of like, interesting. That is, by the way, the best way to find a job. If you have great coworkers that you used to work with, and they're happy somewhere, odds are pretty good it's a place you might also be happy. So a former boss and mentor of mine actually, it's funny, he used to say your network is your net worth and it's a kind of a cheesy line but it sticks with you. And I definitely have found it's really been very true for me, especially lately.

And so I did not apply for the job at Loopio, my now boss actually reached out to and interviewed another former colleague of mine, she was really happy at the time, she was at Shopify, she's still at Shopify, but she messaged me, and she said, "Hey, this guy seems kind of cool. He's got a vision. He knows what product marketing is all about, you should talk to him". And so I did and that is how I ended up at Loopio.

Mark Assini  3:34

That's amazing. Thanks for sharing that. That's quite an incredible journey and I think one that I'm sure a lot of our listeners either experienced themselves or heard others describe.

You started talking about how you like many others who find themselves in product marketing had never seen themselves or even heard of product marketing before starting in the field and things kind of progressed really quickly.

You touched on so many great things there about that experience and making that jump. I know you said it was cheesy, but I love that your network is your net worth. I think you're exactly right and that's why I think communities like the PMA are so powerful because they allow you to expand your network and learn about opportunities that you otherwise wouldn't have.

And I think you're exactly right, if you've got former colleagues at an organization that are happy, then that's absolutely something that should be pursued further. So if others are in similar situations and looking for a jump, or maybe even not looking for a new opportunity, but they've got colleagues elsewhere. That's a great first place to start it sounds like.

Alison Grenkie  4:29

Yeah, 100%, you've got to keep those ties and keep those connections warm.

Mark Assini  4:35

Absolutely. So you and I are both proud Canadian product marketers, and typically when people think of product marketing, they think of San Francisco, the Bay Area, the typical tech hubs as it were, but with more and more Canadian companies hiring product marketers, do you think product marketing is having its own moment north of the border?

Alison Grenkie  4:54

I mean, this is such an interesting question, it's sort of an interesting observation wrapped up in that for so many reasons. I will say I've been super lucky in that I've worked in Toronto for the entirety of my product marketing career, and Toronto does have a thriving tech scene.

It's an industry that really does recognize the value of product marketing, and does seek out product marketers even in those early stages of a company.

So I feel like I've been riding that wave for a while. But at the same time, I would agree with you that now more than ever, I think there is a real awareness of and interest in product marketing, both as a career and as a valuable function within an organization, I would say.

So it is, it's hard to say if that is, in fact, specific to Canada, or if it transcends borders, or if it's just very true of spaces where industries like tech are really thriving.

Mark Assini  5:50

Yeah, I think you're exactly right. I think where you start to see this emergence of tech companies or in many tech sectors, there is that natural progression towards, "Hey, we've got this new tech business, let's start bringing in these new roles" and product marketing, fortunately enough for people like you and myself and our listeners, they tend to be one of those functions that get brought on relatively early let's say, some companies a little bit lag behind others in terms of timing and bringing on product marketers, but I definitely agree.

I fortunately have joined a new org that can hire fully remotely now and they're no longer limited to their local markets. And coming from a smaller Canadian city myself, and I'm sure some of our listeners who find themselves in smaller cities, having the opportunity to explore across the entire country, and explore companies that they otherwise wouldn't have exposed to has opened up a lot of doors for people to explore roles that they wouldn't have otherwise considered, which is, I think, amazing.

Alison Grenkie  6:39

Absolutely, I do, I feel like I've gotten so many folks that are reaching out and exploring more, even in the past year, over LinkedIn, definitely received more of those requests and taken more of those calls in the last year than ever before. It's awesome to see. There's so much enthusiasm from people to break into this role now, because it is such a growing field, and there's so much opportunity.

And as I mentioned, I fell into it completely by accident so it's really exciting to me that now people are seeking this little out intentionally and looking to build a career in product marketing. It's fun to see how this function has grown.

Mark Assini  7:15

Yeah, I agree. And obviously, the PMA has got a variety of courses for those looking to break into the product marketing world to kind of level up their skills. But I think what we'll probably have to see over the next couple of years, if it hasn't started already, at some larger education institutions is this formalized adoption of product marketing as an area of learning that you could no longer just go to school to become like you mentioned a writer or get into advertising.

It's like, no, I want to get into product marketing and this college or university offers a four-year course or program in product marketing. So I think that's kind of where you start to see it get officially legitimized and recognized when those bigger institutions start to adopt those kinds of programs.

Alison Grenkie  7:55

Yeah, it's really interesting, a good observation, it'll be fun to see if that starts happening.

Mark Assini  8:00

Yeah, fingers crossed for those looking to maybe fresh outta high school looking for programs to pick that could be an opportunity for them. Awesome.

So I think for a lot of product marketers, whether they're just starting out, or they've been in the role for a couple of years, the end goal is either end up as a CMO or Director of Product Marketing, as someone who's achieved that status themselves, can you help our listeners understand how you made the leap to the director level?

Alison Grenkie  8:27

Yeah, I mean, it is hard to look back on your own career and try to reverse engineer it somehow. To a degree, I would say some of it boils down to simply going for it, being willing to apply for a role that you haven't held before, throwing yourself into the deep end, trusting yourself to swim rather than sink.

I will lean into my previous answer probably a little bit and say that building a strong network has helped my career enormously to the point where I think 80% of the roles I've interviewed for in my career have been warm introductions or referrals of some kind. When you have really great people who are willing to speak for you, that's worth its weight in gold.

I think as product marketers, good product marketers certainly understand the power of social proof. And that's something I've thought about a lot throughout my career. So I have LinkedIn recommendations from my former bosses, cross-departmentally from product managers I've worked with, salespeople I've worked with, and then more recently, people that I've had the chance to mentor, who have reported to me.

Hiring managers check out LinkedIn profiles, and social proof is powerful. I think you're just missing something if you haven't taken that into account. But I'll also say, I think I was at Intelex for nearly five years and after that initial introduction to product marketing, I moved around a fair bit too and I learned a lot from that.

Just being able to see different organizational cultures, different ways of structuring teams, dividing responsibilities, how different teams tackle different problems together, all of that was super valuable in me trying to build up my own knowledge of what works and what doesn't and how I want to do it so that I am able to bring an informed perspective to my role now.

And I remember in the interview for my current position asking, "This particular function, this activity sits under this role right now, do you think it should sit under product marketing?" I was able to say, "Look, I've seen it done this way. I've seen it done that way. I have a really strong opinion you may or may not agree with but this is what it's based on". And I think that being able to see different companies and tell different stories based on that has been really helpful.

Mark Assini  10:47

Yeah, I couldn't agree more and there are two things you said that I really want to highlight. One is, and it's a simple one, that LinkedIn recommendations feature is fantastic. I often see it go underutilized on a lot of people's profiles. If you've got a really good experience or working relationship with someone, absolutely reach out and ask for a recommendation.

I've done it, as you said, you've done it numerous times I'm sure, and having that social proof, as you said, the same way you would market your product or your service, having that social proof is just going to help you push it across the line in some situations. So I couldn't agree more with you on that one.

I think the other thing that you said that I wanted to touch on briefly is, as you're talking, I'm seeing some very similar similarities between our career experiences and I noticed that as well in going through your LinkedIn profile. You talked about jumping around after that initial five-year stint at your first company. I think if you compare maybe our generation, as millennials, or even as this new batch of Gen Z's enter the workforce...

Alison Grenkie  11:47

I define myself as an elder millennial.

Mark Assini  11:52

We're all part of the same group. I think our generation and the one behind us is going to be less hesitant to jump around as often as probably maybe the previous generation has.

Because I remember in conversations even with my father, who's someone that I personally go to for career advice from time to time is, "Hey this opportunity came up unexpectedly, but I've only been at this organization for 12 months or maybe a year and a half, should I be jumping so frequently and so often?"

And I think his initial reaction was, "Yeah, you can start to build a reputation". And I have heard that said, but I think what you're highlighting and again I agree with is, don't be afraid to experience new things.

And don't worry about what that might look like on your LinkedIn profile, or resume, as long as you can, I think, speak to how that's benefited you and your experiences and broadened your horizons, I would imagine most recruiters, especially in the tech space, are going to look potentially favorably on that and might actually see that as a positive and less of a negative, as I said, some previous generations might.

Would you agree with that? Or do you think I'm way off base?

Alison Grenkie  12:50

No, I would for the most part agree with you. And I would say it's something frankly, I've also struggled with or thought a lot about myself. Because you do want to be able to tell a good story about your career and why you've made the decisions that you've made.

My friend said to me, there was a time when I was considering making a move and I felt like I was moving a little too soon. She just looked at me and she said "People are going to judge you no matter what you do. You might as well be happy. Do what feels good. Do what you feel you need to do".

I mean, that sounds super oversimplified. Sometimes it's not that easy. But sometimes it is that easy. It's kind of like dating too if you date a couple of people, you get to know what you like and what you don't like, you come up with your list of nonnegotiables pretty quick. Then you know when you've found something that's a really good thing.

Mark Assini  13:48

Yeah. Oh, 100%. I think that's a perfect analogy and some advice I'm sure our listeners will appreciate, especially as maybe they're being confronted by these new opportunities, as we just talked about, with this new hybrid or remote work approach with companies that maybe are being a little bit more proactive about reaching out on LinkedIn or being a little bit more aggressive in their acquisition tactics, let's say.

Sometimes you have to, like you said, play the field a little bit before you find the person or the company that's right for that long-term commitment.

Alison Grenkie  14:14

I'll give a caveat though and I will say there was a moment, there was a time in my career where I thought I had to take every interview, every person who reached out my way I thought, "I don't want to leave any doors unopened". I was afraid of missing opportunities.

I do think that I've also gotten to a place where I am confident and I can say "No, I'm really happy where I am. I don't need to open that door. I don't need to explore that opportunity, because I'm good with what I've got". But I also think that you get there from taking those calls initially and from realizing what you're looking for in a job, in a career.

Mark Assini  14:53

Yeah, I agree 100%. I'm gonna move on to our next set of questions and when you and I were setting up our chat for today, you mentioned this concept that I think perfectly encapsulates the life of a product marketer. That's constantly living a professional balancing act. Can you tell the listeners why you feel that's the case?

Alison Grenkie  15:11

I think one of my very favorite things about product marketing is also one of my least favorite things. That's just the sheer variety and volume of departments and tasks that we get to have our hands in. I love it and I hate it at the same time.

Product marketers have to balance a lot of competing activities, a lot of stakeholder interests, a lot of strategic priorities. Sometimes they align, sometimes they do not. It's what makes our role really exciting and engaging.

But truthfully, it's also what can make the role feel overwhelming at times if you let it, if you don't kind of reign it in. I think when it comes to balance, I will come right out and say, I think that true balance is almost a complete myth. If you have four priorities, you cannot give everything 25%. Some things require 80% of your time and effort for a period and that means the other things get 20% for a while.

Then when you come up for air, after delivering that big project that took up so much of your time, you have to find a way to rebalance and to find your groove again. You're always gonna have moments when you're off balance and I think the importance is being able to bounce back, understand what balance looks like for you and your department, being able to take stock and course correct when you need to.

Mark Assini  16:36

That's awesome. And what would you say are some of those fine lines that either you've had to walk in your career as a product marketer, or that you've maybe witnessed other product marketers have to walk in the act of balancing things?

Alison Grenkie  16:48

There's definitely a lot of really interesting balancing acts that are baked right into the role of product marketing, I am part of the marketing team at Loopio, product marketing often reports into marketing. But at the same time, we get to cross over those departmental lines really often. And nurturing and balancing all those different relationships across departments is something I've found myself being a lot more intentional with as my career has progressed.

We work with so many different people, I think most product marketers, really good product marketers understand how important those relationships can be. Even just forging those relationships in a pandemic and remote world, I will say is a whole other interesting fine line to try to walk when everybody is overwhelmed by all the Zoom calls, all the coffee chats, but those relationships are so critical. And I've found in myself, most people have a natural inclination to feel very comfortable in certain domains, and with certain types of people.

So you might be really drawn to Voice of the Customer activities, and you might love spending time working with the customer success team. That is great. But I think it can be really important to recognize that within yourself and almost call it out as a bias you may have. Pay attention to whether you're creating an imbalance where you're spending more time with customer success, than with sales, for instance.

There's also a world where the squeaky wheel can get all of your attention if you're not careful. So that's another way imbalance can occur. But I would say, and this is a very type-A thing for me but I usually formally map out my key stakeholder groups and go to people within those departments. It's something I start doing as soon as I find myself in a new role.

Once I've got the lay of the land, I try to take stock of where I'm at with each of those people, each of those departments, on some sort of a regular basis. At the very beginning, it might be every couple of weeks, might get to a place where it's once a month or quarterly but it's just a mental check-in like, "When was the last time I talked with this really important person on the sales team? When was the last time that I had a one on one with the director of product management?".

That regular making sure that you're not falling out of touch with key people and key stakeholders, that's an important balancing act I find because we all have our natural inclinations to go with, with certain people or certain topics.

Mark Assini  19:19

I think that's such an incredibly smart observation, that idea of you work with departments, and you do a variety of activities with them and you tend to naturally as you say, lean towards one that you're interested in, that you enjoy. But I've never heard it described as potentially developing a bias.

I think that's important for other product marketers to acknowledge that by leaning in and developing that bias, you might actually be putting some blind spots on some areas that really should require your attention or might help you further develop skills that you otherwise would have left on the wayside. So I think it's really important that product marketers acknowledge that some of those biases can arise and be proactive, as you say about addressing them.

And I really love this other concept that you brought up of especially with internal stakeholders, as product marketers we often get approached to do a lot of stuff and we're asked to do a lot of different things by a lot of different teams. But in order to maintain a positive relationship, it's better to interact with someone not always when they're asking you for something, or when you're working on a project, maybe just having these separate one on ones or coffee chats, even though we probably are all sick of coffee chats at this point.

But just to maintain that human element, because even I've experienced in my career, and I'm sure maybe you've felt the same way, where you just become an order taker at times, and the person that you're working with no longer becomes another human being on the other side of the screen or the other side of the table. They just become someone who's giving you requests. And it really, over time, I think can negatively impact that relationship, especially if they're coming to you at a time when you're already busy.

You've already got 1000 requests, you can almost look at them and say, "Don't you already know how much I'm already doing? You're gonna come at me with another request?" So perhaps having that regular one-on-one interaction outside of those requested conversations would definitely help maintain that healthy relationship.

Alison Grenkie  21:02

Yeah, I would say it does not have to be a half-hour coffee chat either. Sometimes, it's just a well-timed GIF. Know the people's favorite TV shows, send them their Office memes, all that good stuff. Truly just connecting with people on a personal level, I think is hugely important.

We, as product marketers have to ask a lot of other people for things too, as much as we're getting asked stuff, I could not do my job without the insights and the feedback and all of that good stuff from other people across the company. So if I'm asking them for stuff, and they're asking me for stuff, it definitely helps to also know the person underneath that.

Mark Assini  21:44

Yeah, agree. Couldn't agree more. So it leads nicely into my next question here. We were talking just now about being asked to do a lot by a lot of different teams and constantly being approached by different members of the organization to do various things, or maybe join on similar projects.

Sometimes, that can feel like a lot. Sometimes it can be overwhelming. Oftentimes, we're getting asked to do too much. I wonder what advice you would have for product marketers who find themselves in a similar position?

Alison Grenkie  22:12

Yeah, first of all, I would say I know that problem very well myself. I've often been a solo product marketer, or I've been a product marketer on a really small team of product marketers. Most of the companies I've worked for have been under 500 employees. So we're all trying to do a lot as a small team.

Honestly, I think there are a few different ways I could answer this question. For starters, it really is just helpful to have clearly defined objectives in your roles and to use those clearly defined objectives to guide the projects you take on and the ones you say "not now" to.

At Loopio we have OKRs so that's objectives and key results and I use those as a north-star. So if your company or your boss are not asking you to go through that sort of objective-setting exercise, I would strongly encourage you to take that on yourself and then to show that to your boss, and ask them to provide feedback and sign off on those objectives.

Because then you can come to them waving that piece of paper later on when they're asking you to do something else and say, "Yes, that sounds great. But what about these other things that we already agreed upon? Because something's got to give here".

I've always tried to practice candor with my bosses and have honest conversations with them about my own capacity, as well as the capacity of my team. If you're lucky, then your boss will back you up when you say that you need to say no to something, frankly, that's part of their job. And if you can't say no to something, if it doesn't make sense to say no to something, then you can offer a recommendation as to what other priorities are going to drop off of your list.

I think that's an important concept that people need to build into their repertoire. There's a rule some people try to follow with shopping, where they say,  if in order to add something to their wardrobe, they first need to get rid of something, I feel like you're active projects list should be exactly like that. If you need to add something, you have to drop something else, at least for a little while.

Make that a rule, you've got your top five that you've thought on the go, you cannot do more than five projects at once, five projects is already a lot. And you drop something if you need to take something else on. Frankly, I would say one of my favorite responses is just to say "I love this idea, but I've got a few too many things on my plate right now to commit to this at the moment". It sounds better than saying no. But then it also sets expectations. You cannot say yes to everything and then try to figure it out later you will burn yourself out.

I guess depending on what the request is, I might gently nudge them to consider whether they might start on it themselves or ask them to book some time on my calendar to follow up on it later if it's an idea that we do want to pursue. But I think it's boundary setting - all of those different things that I just said come back to boundary setting and thinking strategically about what you as a product marketer are uniquely able to offer the company.

Because we get asked to do a lot of things that other departments could do but it might make sense for us to do it. But are we the best people to do it? And is that the best way that we're going to add value to the company at this specific moment in time? Because sometimes it's a great idea, but it's not the best idea for us to take on right at that moment in time.

Mark Assini  25:39

Yeah, I was just gonna say the right idea, just not maybe the right person or even the right time, just like we were talking earlier about different job opportunities, sometimes the timing just doesn't work out and your capacity isn't lined up the way that you want it to. And unfortunately, to your point, I love the idea, but maybe we'll do this another time or maybe someone else can support you with that.

I love your wardrobe analogy, the one in one out. If your closet's getting a little crowded, that's probably a good indicator that you've probably taken on too much.

Alison Grenkie  26:07

Yeah, don't buy more hangers.

Mark Assini  26:09

Yeah, the analogy just lends itself so well. Perfect, I love it, I'm gonna have to use that.

Alison Grenkie  26:14

I think if we want to stretch this further, I think the hangers are hours in your day, don't work till 9pm, don't buy more hangers. One thing in, one thing out.

Mark Assini  26:23

Love it. I love it. Advice product marketers and I think your average person should probably take to heart. Thank you for that.

On that topic of being asked to do too many things sometimes, product marketers are often required to influence many sometimes too many metrics. The funny thing is though we don't often get to own many of them if any of them at all. How do you think product marketers can navigate this contradiction?

Alison Grenkie  26:50

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we do, we influence so much but we are the sole owners of very little. I would say, I think I've done two things to try to help myself in this area. To start with, it's always really helpful to just carve out a couple of metrics or successes that you can point to and say, "Look, I think that our product marketing team did that". So when it comes to those OKRs I mentioned previously, I do try to take on some more project-based OKRs that I know are within my control.

And then for those larger metrics that we're trying to nudge forward, I do lay out clear steps we're taking to move the needle. But of course, always acknowledging some things are beyond our control, sometimes the needle moves in the right direction and we could say we had something to do with it. Sometimes it moves in the wrong direction and we hope we didn't have something to do with it.

But the reality, and I think the second thing that I've done is I've just leaned into the fact that moving the needle and a lot of our key metrics is a team effort, it's always going to be a team effort. There's a little bit of discomfort in that to not be able to own it and to say this is what I've done, which is why I try to do that first piece as well. But if you lean in hard, and you recognize everyone who has contributed to those metrics, I think that you also create a really good sense of people being in it together.

And people are just as willing to recognize you back and it becomes a helpful dynamic where people aren't trying to claim ownership of successes and metrics, but are instead all working together towards those successes and those metrics. So I think just shifting mindset is sometimes a big piece of that as well.

Mark Assini  28:33

Yeah, I think that's a great perspective to have, it's less about, like you said, owning specific metrics, and being able to say, "Hey, this is mine hands off, I'm gonna be contributing to this" and more of, "Hey, these are the metrics that product marketing can positively hopefully influence".

And that the product marketing team, maybe we don't take full ownership of this specific or these metrics but at least we can say that these are the things that we're doing that are going to move, to your point, the needle in the right direction so that there is that sense of maybe not full ownership, but some kind of ownership.

Because the more I think we as product marketers can 'own' and I'm using air quotes in this audio podcast - doesn't play very well for our listeners - but own in the sense of, we are helping to move this in the right direction. It's redefining your concept of what owning truly means and having it less be of this notion of "Hey, these are the ABCD things that I do and I'm the only one positively contributing", it's more, "This is a team sport and we all need to work towards moving these in the right direction together".

Alison Grenkie  29:37


Mark Assini  29:38

Awesome. All right well this is my last question here, Alison. So I'll ask it and then let you go for the day here. It's one I ask all of our guests on the show, what advice or tips would you have for people looking to get into or building their career in product marketing?

Alison Grenkie  29:57

Yes, it's funny, we talked about product marketing a moment earlier and I really feel like I've been answering this specific question a lot lately, from people on LinkedIn which is really great. It's fun, I love it. I will say first and foremost what I typically say to everyone who asks, plug for the Product Marketing Alliance.

Take a look at the PMA's free resources, join the PMA Slack group, if you can take the PMA certification course, even better. I say that for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, you get a sense of the nitty-gritty day-to-day of what it's like to be a product marketer, so you can go in with your eyes wide open, unlike me. You'll know what you're getting yourself into.

But also, if you like what you see that next most important thing is being able to get yourself to a place where you can really talk the talk and exposing yourself to that PMA content and to product marketers within the PMA community, you're essentially just absorbing as much as you can through osmosis. And I think too if you are a solo product marketer at a company, that piece is really important, that talking the talk piece might not be something that you just pick up in your organization because you're the only product marketer.

So that community piece is really powerful. And then, if you're looking to get into product marketing, odds are pretty good that you're going to be applying for and interviewing for a product marketing role at some point. So I think the final thing I would say there is, really just focusing on positioning yourself as someone who would be a great product marketer. For those folks who don't have product marketing experience, and it's like, how do I?

You know, it's always 'one to three years of experience', or whatever it is, I will say, I've recently been interviewing candidates for a new product marketing position at Loopio. Not everyone who applied had direct experience in product marketing. In fact, a lot of strong candidates came in with more general marketing experience, or even product management experience.

What the candidates that stood out did is they really called out transferable skills that they'd honed within their previous roles, that would translate to product marketing, any responsibilities they held that had some sort of crossover with product marketing. And then they highlight those things in their resume, in their cover letter, in their interviews.

They showed a real understanding of what product marketing is and an enthusiasm for learning more. I think that it's an area, it's an industry where there are a lot of opportunities right now and there are actually, from my experience, I would say there's a limited number of candidates in the interviewing pool right now. I think that there are actually perhaps more job opportunities than there are product marketers.

So if you can position yourself well, there are a lot of skills you can train for and competency and confidence definitely develop over time. But you cannot train for attitude and enthusiasm so show that in the interview, show eagerness to learn. I think that's all you've got to do, that's gonna make a really big difference.

Mark Assini  33:03

Yeah, I couldn't agree more. And I'm sure our listeners really appreciate that insight that you're giving them around, just because you're coming into the interview without having product marketing on your resume, or having product marketing in your current title doesn't mean you can't identify some of those transferable skills that you've maybe developed in previous roles, or even just throughout your undergraduate or part-time job experience in the summer.

There's a lot of skills I think people take for granted, that really can be fostered in almost any role that really do you favors in product marketing. Having empathy and working collaboratively with people who are on the same team as you, or who might have varying objectives to yours.

Being a strong communicator, you talked at the very beginning of our conversation about having really strong writing skills and going to school for writing. Writing is such a critical skill as a product marketer, that you don't necessarily have to learn on the job. You can read books, take courses, or just practice and become a better writer. Those are all skills that like I said, you can transfer into a product marketing role without having that experience.

We were talking earlier about product marketing having this moment in Canada, but even just more generally in the tech space, I think as these companies grow and look to bring on more and more product marketers, hopefully, there's going to be a desire and a need for more junior product marketers who are coming in with zero to one year’s experience to help supplement a larger product marketing team and take on some more of those tactical level deliverables that product marketers at a more senior level might get pulled away from so that they can focus on the strategy side of things.

I think over time, as product marketing becomes more and more prominent, that there are going to be opportunities for more junior people to just get their foot in the door and get started and get a taste of product marketing.

So they can either develop and grow internally or look to make the jump to a more senior position elsewhere. I think we both kind of agree that now is the best time, there's rarely been a better time to get into product marketing. I'm sure the advice you just shared will definitely be very valuable to a lot of our listeners so thank you for that.

Alison Grenkie  35:11

Yeah, I hope so. Encouraging the next generation.

Mark Assini  35:14

Exactly. Building the opportunities for the ones coming in behind us. That's what it's all about. Awesome. Well, as I said, that was my last question for you. Thanks so much, Alison, for your time today. I've really enjoyed our conversation.

It's always great to chat with a fellow Canadian product marketer and chat about all things product marketing that's happening north of the border. So I enjoyed that so much. If any of our listeners want to connect, how can they get in touch with you?

Alison Grenkie  35:38

Yeah, I am on LinkedIn. I am the only Alison Grenkie in the whole wide world. So if you spell it right in the podcast notes, then they should be able to find me.

Mark Assini  35:47

Right on. Yeah, I'm sure you'll have some people reaching out to ask you questions. Maybe fashion-related, some fashion tips.

Alison Grenkie  35:53

Oh, goodness. If I at any point positioned myself as a fashion expert, I am so sorry and I take it back.

Mark Assini  36:01

Maybe I'm just overextending that fashion analogy we used earlier about the closet.

Alison Grenkie  36:06

I will position myself as a good closet organizer.

Mark Assini  36:12

There you go, closet organization tips or even just help with understanding when it's okay to say no to requests. That, among many other things, is a great resource so absolutely reach out. So with that, I'll let you go. Thanks so much for your time, Alison. Hope you have a great one.

Alison Grenkie  36:27

Yeah, thanks so much, Mark. I really enjoyed our conversation as well.

Mark Assini  36:30