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Product marketing questions week #81

Trending Questions | B2B | B2C

In the build-up to Valentine’s Day, we launched two brand-new features so impressive, they’ll make your heart skip a beat. 💓

First, our awesome narrative design certification gives you the chance to finetune your understanding of a key PMM principle, while PMA Watercooler, our round-robin event taking part the second Friday of every month, opens the door for much-needed facetime to pose any questions, problems, or ideas you may have.

Two features bound to take your breath away. 🥰

And with Product Marketing Rendezvous taking place February 17-19th, last week’s insights from the Slack community are the ideal way to kickstart the week with aplomb.

Wanna join a product marketing community this year? Head over to our slack community for real-time responses from fellow product marketers.

Q: Does anyone have examples of survey questions they've asked internal team members (sales/product/cs) to gather feedback on the internal GTM process?

A: “Yes, I like to send a Typeform or Google Survey out to the entire sales team and all PMs (at least) each quarter. There are a few questions I like to ask, including:

  1. What's something we did last quarter that you'd like to see us continue and why?
  2. What's something we did last quarter that you wish we wouldn't do again and why?
  3. Anything you'd like help with next quarter?
  4. How would you rate our quality of work output this past quarter 1-10?
  5. How would you rate our willingness to collaborate and take feedback 1-10
  6. How would you rate our results 1-10?
  7. Is there anything else you'd like to add?

“We make the answers from the respondents anonymous.”

Jeff Hardison, Head of Marketing at Grain.co

Q: I'm hoping to better understand how folks have managed to break into product marketing and the common roles before Product Marketing Manager? What skills are most important to learn (or experiences to have) early in your career?

For context, I have worked at a market research and marketing consulting firm for one-and-a-half years since graduating college. I'm looking for my next step, with PMM as my ultimate goal, but have had difficulty identifying that step and limited success applying for PMM roles without already having proper product marketing experience.

A: “I started as a copywriter at a B2B marketing agency and quickly discovered I loved strategy as much as (if not more than) writing. Because my agency experience was around launching brands/products/services, I was able to tell a story about how I'd been 'doing' PMM my entire career even though I didn't have the PMM title.

“I'm looking to build out my team this year, and to me, it's less important that someone have PMM experience, and more important that they have marketing experience – either content, digital, campaign, etc.

“Anyone can learn PMM skills/processes, but they have to bring strong communication/writing skills, critical thinking skills, and a go-getter attitude to the table.”

Melissa Pfannenstiel, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Field Nation

“I worked as a project manager for 4 years before becoming a product marketing manager. For the two years, before I transitioned, I was exclusively a project manager on a 15+ person marketing team.

“So, I had a huge role in developing team processes and collaborating with our cross-functional teams (product, CS, etc.) This helped me build relationships, get to know our product a ton, dive deep into a ton of marketing disciplines (think T-shaped), and get exposed to our customers.

“I slowly just started doing the things — writing, positioning, supporting launches, creating content, adding my voice in product development/management venues, etc. and I evolved into the role.”

Tom Tate, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Phenom People

“I was in demand gen/digital marketing for ~3.5 years before getting my first ‘product marketing specialist’ role; now, I’m a proper PMM.

“I just talked about how I focused on being a generalist and driving marketing outcomes towards the product/services we had instead of focusing on mastering marketing channels. Having exposure to working with sales, leadership, and being a jack-of-all-trades helped position me into PMM.”

Jon Lewis, Product Marketing Manager at MongoDB

Q: We have the biggest tradeshow in our industry (mining) coming up in September, but our new product will not be ready to sell, as we're experiencing delays in development. We don't have anything noteworthy or exciting to showcase, (in terms of products), but we don't want to appear irrelevant either.

Do we go ahead and set up mock demos with our prototypes, or do we show 3D animations of use cases only?

A: “I’d showcase the vision with mock-ups, prototypes, videos and be clear around the launch date. SalesForce will showcase features two years before they’re ready for customer consumption.”

John Zielke, President at Z Sales and Marketing LLC

“It’s normal to use the show as a build-up for the product. I would even take it a step further, signing up early registrants for it.”

Yitzy Tannenbaum, Product Marketing Manager at AlgoSec

“This is especially true in industries with hardware. Just look at the car shows. They show off concept cars that aren't due for another few years. People in those industries are used to some delays as long as your timeframe seems honest.”

Martin Bakal, Product Marketing Manager and Evangelist at OpenLegacy

Q: What’s the consensus on asking PMM candidates to do a writing or slide-creation exercise?

A: “I'm a huge fan. I think that writing is a very critical skill for PMMs to be successful, and it's worth getting as much signal as possible from candidates.

“However, I also caution against writing or slide-creation that doesn't help them either 1) share more about their experience or 2) learn more about your business/product. Any take-home should benefit both you and the candidate.”

Kevin Garcia, Head of Product Marketing at Retool

“Almost every recent interview I had for a PMM role, asked for an assignment. I was usually asked to build a GTM strategy or to do a market analysis.”

Yitzy Tannenbaum, Product Marketing Manager at AlgoSec

Q: As a PMM, have you ever been involved with sales territory planning? Do you think there’s any place for PMMs to be involved here?

A: “I think that it can depend on where you fit within the Revenue organization. I am closely aligned, so I often get pulled into territory planning. While outside my immediate responsibilities, it helps to have input early for any regionalized GTM planning & sales enablement prioritization.”

Bobcat Lawrence, Senior Director of Product Marketing at AdTheorent

“I haven't, but I think it makes perfect sense since PMMs are usually driving the segmentation and market research. You can help the Sales team drive divisions that make sense and aren't arbitrary. For example., if value is created based on need, then segmenting the sales team based on customers' needs might make much more sense than segmenting by industry. Or perhaps size or territory is driving differences in value; in that case, break up the sales team in whichever way is appropriate.”

Dekker Fraser, Vice President of Marketing at Talkatoo

“I have been involved to think about the number and size of customers in each region to make sure the reps have enough accounts to target. We call it a ‘bottoms up’ approach where we look at account lists (hopefully they already have this) and identify how to split up the regions.

“For example, a region like NY has a lot of media and financial services companies. Knowing your target markets will tell you where the concentration of accounts are, and how to split them up accordingly.”

Jenna Langer, Product, Marketing, and Strategy Consultant

“I think there's not only a place but a requirement for at least some level of involvement even if it’s only information around which territories should be planned. I'm assuming by territories we can include verticalization, segmentation by size (mid-market vs enterprise vs F100), etc.

“If PMMs are pushing up good recommendations on ICPs, positioning, and messaging to whoever is doing GTM planning, then that GTM planning will include that work in territory and related divisions.”

Geoffrey Palmer, Product Marketing Manager

Q: Who is responsible for sending feature release notes out to customers? This question is more focused on the million small changes we make across our SaaS products, not major feature releases or product launches. Or if it's a team effort to write and distribute, who does what part at your org?

A: “Some questions you might consider:

  1. Do customers need to know about the million small changes?
  2. How do those changes affect their experience?
  3. What would happen if you didn’t tell them?
  4. Can you test not telling them everything?”

Daniel Scibienski, Product Marketing Manager at Ellevation Education

“In companies that I've worked for in the past, it's a team effort. Product management wrote, product marketing revised to be less technical, and marketing distributes to partners (via email and in the partner portal) and customers (via email and when appropriate, brief video). We evaluated which among the "million small changes" were relevant, then packaged them into themes that were important to partners and/or to users.”

Eileen Licitra, Product Marketing Strategist at Inside Out Marketing, Inc.

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 #81