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Product marketing questions week #60

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Q: I just hired my first product marketing associate – any must do onboarding tasks that you have for your new hires?

A: “Congratulations! I have a few suggestions, having done this a few times.

“Make sure they set up coffee meetings with key individuals they'll be working with (PMs, marketers, sales, etc).

“Walk them through your launch process docs, if available, and invite them to shadow you, or other PMMs, in a few relevant meetings to get to know others but get a better sense of the role and how to operate.

“I’d also recommend getting them involved in a project that can ship quickly. Ideally, a small-scale launch (or a small piece of a bigger launch) that you can hand-hold them through the first time so they can get a quick win.

“If they aren't familiar with your market/competitors, give them direction and time to read content/blogs/analyst reports/etc. get them to start writing positioning/messaging as soon as possible - and look at other great examples of product marketing in the broader landscape.

“It’s also useful to identify a mentor or new hire buddy. This doesn't have to be another PMM but should be someone seasoned at the org, who can help them with any questions or navigate the right people to connect to.

“Finally, make sure they have permissions to the right software, and files they'll need. Particularly any existing positioning, messaging, process docs, Slack channels, and things like that they'll need. Hooking them up with a PMA mentor, or having them take the PMA certification is also recommended!”

Jeffrey Vocell, Director of Product Marketing at Iterable

“Get them shadowing sales as often as they can, ideally with some experience at every funnel stage if you can manage it. The prospect perspective is paramount and the relationship building with sales can only help.”

Garrett O’Brien, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Stitch, Inc.

“I always have a new staff member learn an existing sales/GTM presentation for the product(s) they have responsibility for.

“Then, I have them give the pitch to a couple of internal peers from solutions or sales. It helps them internalize the content and get comfortable delivering in their voice.”

David Johnson, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Model N

Q: I'm an MA student trying to start my career in product marketing. Where would you suggest I begin with trying to build skills and knowledge in the area?

A: “For me, it was a case of learning the fundamentals of the marketing team (demand, content, PR, etc.), as well as familiarizing myself with product managers, scrum masters, architects, engineering, developers, and so forth.

“I also spent plenty of time making sure I was uber clear on the differences between a PM vs PMM, and also made sure I read as much as I could about the area.”

Farhan Manjiyani, Technical Product Marketer at Rev.com

“I would recommend spending time reading/writing whitepapers, analyst data, and other website content.

“Get comfortable understanding sales teams as well, because completing enablement, competitive analysis, etc could be a big part of the role.”

Martin Bakal, Product Marketing Director and Evangelist at OpenLegacy

“Read the job descriptions of all possible product marketing roles. This helps understand what companies are looking for, and this can guide areas you can read about.

“Start blogging about taking well-known products to market, and then try to get feedback on them. GTM is a very important aspect of product marketing and even in interviews, you'll be asked about this.

“Apply to relevant jobs, even if you're under-qualified. This will help you practice and understand the precise product marketing questions asked in interviews and the scenarios in which you'll likely be tested as a product marketer.”

Anand Vatsya, Product Marketer at WebEngage

Q: How do you make market research and competitive intelligence actionable in your org? I have no problem gathering data and creating a PPT. But it feels like sometimes it’s treated as a nice-to-know, but nothing precise enough for teams to act on.

A: “I would frame the research through the lens of the decisions/problems/opportunities your team is currently facing. Grouping insights from your research into those areas should help make them more actionable.

“You may also want to make some recommendations about thosedecisions/problems/opportunities based on your research and use your thoughts as a starting point for discussion with your teammates.

Mark Assini, Product Marketing Manager at Voices.com

“Research generally starts with a business question, not a research question. Frame the learning in the context of the business question, and more people will likely be interested. Connect the dots for them when you report findings, not just what the research says, but what it means and what you recommend as a result.

“I’m not sure if this last point will be relevant to a startup/small team, but I've seen large clients involve stakeholders from the beginning, e.g., with stakeholder interviews, which are priceless for getting an honest assessment of the goals, challenges, etc. As part of the interviews, you can share the goal of the research. This creates demand for it.”

Renee Cameron, Founder and Chief Strategist at Reframe Strategies

“Bring your recommendations and the ‘so what’. This is also how you can influence how product marketing is seen at an early company. Strategic drivers of growth keep their finger on the pulse of the market and push the organization to evolve when it comes to product, pricing, positioning, and overall GTM.

“For example, if you identify an emerging trend in what your buyers are seeking in a solution, show the whitespace and impact you could achieve by going after it. Estimate the TAM and resources you would need to achieve it. And keep it simple - at this stage, it is not a business case but painting a picture of what could be by going after a trend you identified. It is the definition of marketing internally.”

Lauren Culbertson, Co Founder and CEO of LoopVOC

Q: PMMs who work on the product side: What is your current process for understanding the details of new products/features along with their release timelines to plan for GTM activities and communicating information to internal teams, or externally, if that is something you do? What tools are you using for these processes?

A: “Great question. I would love to read what others have implemented. Sharing something that we've just built out, so I expect we'll iterate a bit from this as we figure out inefficiencies or edge cases (this is for a B2B company).

“We have a product/PMM sync every two weeks just after the product/tech sprint calls to discuss every new release that's to come up in the next 2-4 weeks. We tag each of the releases with a need for communication rating on two dimensions - external/internal.

“So each release is one of (major communication, minor/hygiene communication, no communication) for external and internal audiences. External - major means a newsletter, minor/hygiene means 1-1 outreach by AMs. Internal - major means an internal email blast in a specific template, minor/hygiene means smaller update emails.

“In terms of tools, we use Excel for tagging items. Internal email templates for sending updates. Some external updates may link to a blog post or a support portal link.”

Utkarsh Sinha, Head of Product Marketing at InMobile

Written by:

Lawrence Chapman

Lawrence Chapman

Lawrence is our Copywriter here at PMA who loves crafting content to keep readers informed, entertained, and enthralled. He's always open to feedback and would be thrilled to hear from you!

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Product marketing questions week #60