Last week, we released the first in a three-part series designed to highlight the incredible and invaluable Ukrainian talent we currently have within the product marketing community.

Now, we’re continuing to magnify these voices and experiences. Why?

These are important stories to be told, especially considering what the current conflict means for many Ukrainian marketing professionals. Due to the ongoing unrest, many Ukrainians are uprooting themselves causing disruption in their home and work lives.

While their newfound profession may be similar to their previous position, product marketers may find themselves in a comparatively unfamiliar role when moving to a new country. Familiarizing themselves with a fresh role during challenging circumstances takes a lot of skill, and it should be celebrated.

If this sounds like something you’ve experienced, we want to encourage you to consider applying to the Scholar Program we have here at Product Marketing Alliance.

If you get accepted, you'll be a part of a free 12-week program that'll help you understand your current market, and kickstart your career. Follow the link to learn more about how to apply to the Scholar Program and the deadlines for applications.

In the second installment, we spoke to Yaroslav Stepanenko, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Setapp about his experience in the industry, including:

Yaroslav is speaking at the Product Marketing Festival on July 13th about product-market fit. Follow the link to sign up and listen to his amazing presentation.

Yaroslav’s product marketing journey

Could you please describe what your career journey has looked like up until now?

I am a product marketer with 15 years of experience in this field.

During this time, I've had a chance to work in product companies of different sizes, different growth stages, structures, and cultures, which has helped me develop a diverse set of skills.

Currently, I’m in the MacPaw team, a company on a mission to create software that makes users’ lives easier.

I joined MacPaw in 2015 as a product marketer to work on a B2B product called DevMate, which is an app development and distribution platform, a backbone for Mac developers. Our goal was to launch the product from beta to the market.

The product did succeed, with the right value, for the right audience, and the right monetization model. It was then acquired by a company called Paddle.

After that, when I was promoted to Senior Product Marketing Manager, I started working on a product called Setapp, which is the first app subscription service for macOS and iOS, functioning as a marketplace connecting app users and app developers, helping boost personal and work productivity for the first, and is a sustainable and scalable revenue channel for the second.

I've been managing ​Setapp’s product marketing​ function from day one - literally from the moment when it was just an idea, and up until now. So, I made the whole path from insights to decisions and actions many times.

My team and I have achieved some notable milestones and achievements with Setapp:

  • We released it in seven languages to multiple geographics
  • We achieved strong financial indicators
  • Product-market fit indicators are booming: activation, engagement, retention, and loyalty
  • We’ve also launched a functioning referral program and redesigned the monetization model several times, coming up with an appropriate solution for ARPU (average revenue per user) and New Revenue indicators

What made Yaroslav choose this path

What led you to become a product marketer? Is there something specific that made you want to choose this path?

It happened organically, I think.

When I started my career, product marketing wasn’t even a job title - at least here in Ukraine. :-)

I think I’m attracted to product marketing because it’s the only job function in the world that sits at the intersection of several key functions: product management, sales, client success, user experience, and marketing. And I like it a lot.

As a product marketer, you collaborate a lot and have an opportunity to influence a lot. Which makes me happy and makes my professional life joyful.

I think those reasons collectively made me want to choose this path.

What product marketing looks like in Ukraine

The product marketing role looks different in many countries. For example, the United States is very involved and seems to be the larger product marketing community - our State of Product Marketing report 2021 showed that the majority (66%) of our participants were from the USA, and only 27% were from Europe.

Do many people work as product marketers in Ukraine? Is it a common job title?

Great question. Product marketing is a common job title and pretty known professional description here, often found in the names of departments across multiple organizations in different industries and verticals.

It’s not unusual for product marketing functions to vary significantly from company to company and it sometimes even means different things in the same organization.

I've noticed this not just in Ukraine, by the way. 🙂

I’m often asked to clarify what product marketing is and what product marketers do. I wrote an article on what product marketing is and what we do to help others around us understand it.

What Yaroslav enjoys most about his role

What do you enjoy most about your role? And has this changed over the course of your career?

I’m passionate about product marketing mainly because being a product marketer isn’t a linear journey, it’s a loop.

A flow chart explaining that being a product marketer isn't a linear journey but a loop. It goes from understanding the customers and define the market, craft positioning and messaging, assemble the GTM and launch the product, and the measure the impact.

Product marketers have a heavy stack of responsibilities. They have to travel the journey from insights to decisions and actions. This path can be explained like this:

Discover → Strategize → Launch → Measure → Repeat.

I love being a pathfinder, trailblazer, groundbreaker, pioneer - whatever you call it - the one who’s responsible for a successful journey on this path.  A successful journey means that the outcomes of the journey help my company to succeed in its ultimate goal: to build the product a lot of customers want, which translates into finding, holding, and scaling the product-market fit.

It doesn't matter whether I have to reframe the entire product story or scale the product to new horizons, the journey starts over and over again.

I love the fact that I have to innovate a lot. Although the journey looks framework-ish, every next one should be different and unique.

I’m excited by the challenge to support the speed of the journey. Acting on insights fast, finding the next opportunity faster than competitors, and redesigning the next route based on the measurement results quickly are critical to understanding where the product fits with the market and how to scale its growth.

The most significant moment in Yaroslav’s career as a PMM

What has been the most significant moment within your product marketing career? How has this experience changed or impacted how you make decisions today?

The most significant moment hasn’t happened yet, haha!

Actually, I can’t think of a particular moment. It’s a difficult question. I think a product marketer’s job itself is a significant moment that lasts, pretty much as I described in the path from insights to decisions and actions above.

And the beauty of this job is that even the sky is not the limit.

Two lessons you should know when starting as a product marketer

For those just starting out in product marketing, can you name the top two lessons you’ve learned throughout your career that you wish you knew when you first started?

  1. Unnecessary, or better to say, "unhealthy" perfectionism will always block you. Don't get me wrong, I’m not saying you shouldn’t think about and prioritize quality, product marketing success depends on quality a lot.

But when you don’t release anything for a while, your storytelling isn’t happening, and your customers won’t have you/your product on the radar. Unhealthy perfectionism is the number one reason to wait, postpone, and pause. This is a trap you should avoid.

2. Data is King. Both qualitative and quantitative data are what have to drive you, your team, your plans, and your efforts. The better the data is, the more chances you have to travel from insights to decisions and actions successfully.

Highlighting those who have had a positive impact on Yaroslav’s career

Are there any companies or individuals within the product marketing community that have had a positive impact on you that you’d like to highlight?

I've been so lucky to have an opportunity to always be employed by the product companies and to work with people with a super-strong product mindset.

I’m enormously thankful to them.

Are there any Ukrainian companies or individuals (in the product marketing space or beyond) you have worked with that you think the world needs to know about?

Ukraine gave the world lots of strong product companies.

Some of the product companies with Ukrainian roots:

  • MacPaw
  • Grammarly
  • PetCube
  • Readdle
  • Preply
  • Ajax Systems
  • Revenue Grid
  • Skylum
  • GitLab

And more….

Ukraine’s tech sector

Ukraine’s tech sector is rapidly emerging as being one of the largest tech hubs in Europe. What can global companies learn from companies such as these to enhance the quality of their practice?

Oh, yes.

I believe in mentality a lot. A certain portion of the success of companies is often tailored to the mental aspects of their employees, on top of their (employees') hard skills, of course. That’s why we often see tremendous success in companies with a diversified environment -, for example.

As for Ukraine's tech sector, I think there are mental aspects that help Ukrainians succeed. Ukrainians have three key attributes:

  1. We’re extremely hard-working. If there’s a "mountain we have to climb", we will do our best, and even more.
  2. We like to help people in almost every aspect of our life and work. Ukrainians help even if they’re not asked to. This helps us succeed as a team.

We've been an independent country for more than 30 years, and a big important move is that new generations finally got rid of the Soviet directive approach to work, and new leaders are those who apply supportive leadership a lot.

3. We’re brave. It means that we are not afraid to try something new, take risks, or experiment. We adopt and apply new stuff super fast.

On top of the mentality that helps us a lot, I’d also say that as an independent country, we’re young, which is correlated with being passionate about self-development and success.

And, we appreciate the opportunities the modern world has to offer to anyone now. And being young and passionate plays its role as well.

A little more about the Scholar Program

Read in-depth about the program here >

Once a quarter, every quarter, we open the doors to 25 new or aspiring product marketers and put them through a part-time, 12-week program. By the end, you’ll have all the knowledge, tools, and training needed to start a successful career in product marketing.

But it doesn’t stop there.

By being part of our Scholar Program, you’ll automatically be put in front of leading hiring companies, primed to kickstart your career in style.

What you’ll get from us

🔖 Product marketing certification (providing you pass the exams)

👩‍💻 Live, weekly workshops with industry leaders

✅ Marked, practical tasks to test your learning

👣 A platform to build your personal portfolio

🌎 Exposure to some of the world’s biggest brands

🔥 Official accreditation from the industry’s go-to association (aka, us!)

🆓 All of the above for free (worth $3,500 RRP)

Apply for Scholarship