It’s been another historic week in the world of product marketing - courtesy of PMA. 🔥

Hot on the heels of #PMMfest, we kept the ball running with the launch of Product Marketing: Core [Live & Online], our revamped version of the already impressive Product Marketing: Core [On-Demand] certification.

And we’re upping the ante once more, with the State of Product Marketing Report 2020 set to drop this Wednesday. 🙌

Awesome, right?

Let’s put the cherry on top of the PMM cake, and check out the topics and trends from the Slack community during last week.

Not in Slack already? Not a problem. Get in on the action (for free!) here.

Q: For those of you who have entered a brand new industry and company as a PMM, how long did it take you to ramp up to the point where you felt like a product expert and/or an industry expert?

A: Entering product marketing is exciting, but as is the case with every industry, the time spent adapting varies. Let’s see what PMMs said:

“From my experience, it takes 1 to 3 months to become a product expert, depending on how complex the product/solution is.
“Again, based on my experience, becoming an industry expert can take a minimum of 6 months. It varies depending on the industry and how saturated the market is for that specific industry.”

Jesse Choo, Product Marketing Manager at Webfleet Solutions

“Product is easier to learn than industry nuance. It all depends on the complexity of the market. I tell all of my new PMMs not to be afraid to lean on out-of-market experience because it can be extremely valuable in an organization where team collaboration can be rampant.”

Kyle Beeco, Product Marketer at Upwork

Martin Bakal, Product Marketing Director and Evangelist at OpenLegacy also gave his views:

“I agree with others that industry expertise is tougher, but many times you also have some part of it; 6-months with no knowledge makes sense.
“I’m with a company that sells developer tools and have always worked in that market. The difference with this one is about modernizing mainframes using cloud tech. I came from more of an embedded focus. Leveraging that development knowledge helped shorten it to 3-months.”

Customer focus was also cited as a valuable factor when PMMs are adapting to new industries:

“The best way I've found to become an industry expert in a new industry is to get in front of as many customers as possible. In my opinion, this is the best way to understand industry challenges and industry direction.”

David Johnson, Snr. Director of Product Marketing at Model N

“The length of time depends on the complexity of the product and how you define 'expert'.
“One and a half years in, I'm still learning new ways our product is used to solve business challenges because it's so flexible/configurable and the use cases are so vast it has so many points of integration with other systems.
“I was already working in the target industry, but from when I started it, took about 3-years to understand all the personas and speak their language with confidence, once again because of the complexity of use cases.”

Nicola Kinsella, Brand Builder at Fluent Commerce

Q: My company ran a free, self-service trial last year and had some trouble converting those users to paid customers. We believe they often got ‘lost’ in our tool because we didn't build enough guardrails to guide them in achieving their "ah-ha!” moment. I dug into the data and multiple personas started the trial: CEOs, marketing, product, engineering, growth, data. Can you have a free trial for all of those personas or is it a best practice to pick one and build for that persona and that persona's use case?

A: Sometimes, you need to hold a prospect’s hand and guide them through the process to turn them into a bonafide customer. PMMs in the community gave their views on what they consider best practice when using free trials:

“I'd be curious to see if you compared product usage from paying users vs. free users.
“My experience with free offerings in B2B is it costs more to run the program than the value you get from conversions. For example, I ran an offer where users would get product B for free when they bought product A.
“After 18 months, most organizations hadn't even logged into the free product. There may be ways to make it work but if you are selling to a B2B market I think offering something for free doesn't work.”

David Johnson, Snr. Director of Product Marketing at Model N

“Well-intentioned people start free trials and then don't know how to trial.
“I made a guide once that was a mini 1-week trial success guide.
“It asked the trialist to book 30-minutes on their calendar, 5-days in a row to set aside trial-to-trial with detailed instructions on what to try in each session, and it helped.”

Julie Grondin, Snr. Global Product Marketer at CBRE

“I've found, especially in the last 10 years, no one is assigned to play with the trial apps.
“Previously, we had an intern up to an advanced business user or IT person, but those days are gone. What I’ve explained to my SaaS mentees is they’re better off having a free version that specializes in doing one awesome thing, but the rest are "for purchase only" so you entice people to purchase.
“Support should be minimal and lots of help docs and content/videos for people that are strewn throughout. To answer your question specifically, the CEO may be a one-person shop, and therefore, don't live by titles.
“Users don't follow a map, more like they follow Han Solo blipping into hyperspace every day to another galaxy to return home in a week.”

Keith Brooks, Chief Executive Officer at B2B Whisperer

Q: Has anyone in the community had to convince the powers-that-be social advertising is needed for your company? We market to developers and architects, and I suggested this for webinars with broad topics and white papers discussing broad tech, because we keep mailing the same base. But the expectation is we directly get SQLs from these which is difficult. How can I navigate this challenge?

A: Despite the benefits of social advertising, there are still some stakeholders who need convincing the method is suitable for their company. There are ways to broach the conversation methodically, though:

“Talk to a salesperson and document how many conversations they go through and what topics are covered each time. Essentially, you need to illustrate the one topic in your white paper/webinar won’t be enough to convert prospects to customers.”

Angela D'Ercole, Director of Product Marketing at Nielsen

“Previously, I’ve turned a whitepaper into a "Roadshow" and a brown bag-webinar; marketing provides the logistics, invites, and speakers, while sales get MQLs to follow-up.
“The topics were typically broad- Digital Transformation, Application Modernization, Big Data, Machine learning, and AI (in our case) that worked. Product led webinars always fell flat unless it was a migration/upgrade for security or compliance play.”

Ash Naik, Growth Hacker, Ex Dell, Ex Microsoft, Marketing Services, GTM.

Q: I’m excited about setting up and running a digital conference for my product, but require some help. What’s the best place to start?

A: Following the COVID-19 outbreak, digital conferences are common practice for PMMs. But, we all need to start somewhere, as a novice! Check out some fundamentals:

“I would start with your goals for the conference and work backward from there.
“It mirrors an IRL conference except for obviously, you don't have to work with vendors/sites. I would put some thought into how you get the attendees to interact with each other, as this is what is most missing from online events that used to be a benefit of in-person events.
“Secondly, I would get the speakers and panelists to shorten their presentation and tighten up the content as much as possible.
“Finally, build in time for people to practice using the online tools. If you are going to host a panel conversation, the moderator, panelists, and the person running the call need to practice beforehand, to minimize the likelihood of any hiccups!”

Jane Nevins, Marketing Advisor at

Excellent points - there’s nothing worse than an awkward technical error! PMMs also highlighted the role visuals can play in a digital conference:

“I'd like to stress the importance of visuals. Try to rehearse the presentations in advance to ensure the presenter is using captivating visuals. After all, we've all gone a bit numb to Zoom-Gloom."

Q: What, according to you, is the North Star Metric of PMM?

A: The sheer mention of metrics can make some PMMs run a country mile, but there’s no doubting their importance in helping us track success and plan for future campaigns.

“I think it depends on what stage your company is in, what you are being asked to do, whether your product is SaaS, on-prem, a physical device, etc.
“For example, I am at a startup so retention is nice but we need new customers, growth in the pipe, shortening sales cycles; I never tried to figure out my specific North Star Metric but it is something like that. I have been at large companies where the focus was on cross-selling products and promoting integrations between them, so it’s quite clear these are different.”

Martin Bakal, Product Marketing Director and Evangelist at OpenLegacy

“Generally I would say ‘sales’ or ‘profit’, however, this does depend on the company or business unit. I’ve had roles where the unstated #1 goal simply to keep VPs happy.”

Jane Nevins, Marketing Advisor at

“It depends on your target market and what you're selling. The goal is always revenue growth, but that metric won't tell me what I'm doing right or wrong to get there as a PMM in B2B enterprise sales.
“So it makes more sense to be measured against things I can impact directly like launch success, position in analyst reports, inbound leads from content I wrote, etc.”

Nicola Kinsella, Brand Builder at Fluent Commerce

“If all the factors like product, company stage, etc are kept aside, I'd say it would be adoption. Reason being, product marketers are mandatorily responsible for taking a product to market. In that sense, what you can have a direct impact on is the adoption of your product by way of how you've packaged/presented it.”

Anand Vatsya, Product Marketing at WebEngage