In episode two of the ‘Product Marketing Insider’ series we are chatting to Div Manickam who’s leads product marketing at Dell Boomi.
Dell Boomi saas startup helping companies that spread the business outcomes and helping break down data silos by allowing information to flow faster.
Anyway, enough from us, let’s see what Laura had to say. Listen to the podcast above or read the transcript below.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 0:01
Okay, so if we can just start off with you just telling us a little bit about you, your name, location, what company you work for, that sort of thing.
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 0:09
All right. Hi, everyone. My name Div Manickam I lead product and solutions marketing here in Dell Boomi. We are a SAAS startup and we are helping companies that spread the business outcomes and helping break down data silos by allowing information to flow faster, whether it's processes, applications or data sources. So super excited to be here. We are going through a product marketing solution within Boomi where we started realising that product marketing means something and everything to some people and is nothing to others, so we've been kind of going through that journey ourselves. And we we've gotten to a point where we think we're better suited a portfolio messaging, and kind of dive into that furthermore.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 0:58
So you mentioned it's a start-up, have you been there from kind of the inception, when it was born? Or were you brought in at a later date?
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 1:05
I'll be completing three years in October. The company was acquired by Dell so we are part of the Dell Technologies family, and the company's been around here for a decade now. So it's no more a startup but then we like to think that we have a startup culture because that's pretty much how every company operates these days, you have that fast-paced life, you're kind of deciding and making decisions as you have information in front of you. So yeah, a start-up in a big company as well is how I'd phrase us.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 1:42
So what is it that made you want to become a product marketing manager in the first place?
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 1:47
Um, I think it was my first internship that I did right after I completed my MBA in marketing. My background is I have an engineering degree, as well as a master's in cyber security. And so learning was something that was always important for me. And I realised that I wasn't cut out to be the quarter or programmer as I initially thought when I took on my engineering degree. And so I went to the transition and started exploring what other opportunities are out there because I think one of the things that I did want to kind of flex my muscle was the creative side of me. And marketing was the natural choice, everyone was like yeah you should do marketing and I didn't want to do traditional marketing, because that's not where my strengths are or where my passion is, the product marketing became that natural fit, where I still tied to the technology and still passionate about the technology. And then I can actually help position and kind of make sure that we are articulating what the value of that product is, right. So that's where product marketing came into being for me, and I don't think there could be a better job that is out there. And I know product marketing is still in its infancy, where you see product marketing in a company will kind of come and go, but I'm super excited to be here and I think product marketing is also in its next evolution right now.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 3:17
So how long have you actually been in the product marketing field for now?
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 3:21
About five to seven years now.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 3:25
And to get that balance between the creative side and staying close to the tech side of it, do you see yourself now and in the neear future staying in these kind of tech businesses to level all that out?
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 3:35
Yes, I think all of my life I've been within the technology companies, whether it has been startups or even fortune 500 companies, and b2b has been my sweet spot. So any company that I see going into the future as well, it will be in the same b2b technology space. So I live in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, there is a shortage of tech companies that need product marketers are kind of leaders for product marketing. So it's an exciting place to be.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 4:05
And then so when you first started out in the product marketing industry, what was your first job? And what did that look like?
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 4:12
So my first job, I actually started as a marketing communication, this was like 10 years ago, and in marketing, and that's when I actually realised there's a role called Product Marketing. So in marketing communications, 10 years ago, marketing communications did kind of pseudo Product Marketing and marketing marcoms together. So that's where I got exposed to it. And then I kind of, if you look at my journey, and how I went through product to get to product marketing, I, I've done marketing, communications, sales enablement, kind of going through that journey, and then also going through technical product marketing, and then I finally got into Product Marketing. If none of those steps had happened, I don't think I would have gotten into Product Marketing the first time I applied for product marketing. Everyone would say, oh, you have the right skill set, but you don't have the experience. And I always tell them, yes, but if nobody gives me the chance then it's very hard.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 5:11
It's a time old problem isn't it?
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 5:13
Exactly. So I kind of paved my path. And eventually what ended up happening was the skill sets and the roles that I did before helped them to see and say, oh, you've done sales enablement so you will understand what the sales problems are so great, you're perfect for product marketing, like, okay, if that's what will get me the job then sure. But that's, that's what I would encourage everybody, typically, you will think that you have to start off in product marketing to get into product marketing, but that's not the reality. Because Product Marketing touches every team and department within a company, it's easy for you to just start one place and get your foot in the door. And then kind of creating your expertise around that. That's the beauty of it. If I look at where Product Marketing sits within our company, we are the central point and you are surrounded by product managers, sales, sales engineer sales enablement, inside sales, and then you also have marketing. So where we are structured within Boomi, we are part of the product organisation and that is a perfect fit. Because there's a lot of work that we and even the PMA data Product Marketing report says that right, a lot of our time was spent, 90% of our time, is spent with the product folks. So it makes real sense for us to actually be within the product organisation, and bring that alignment and actually look at product marketing as a strategic investment as compared to a tactical investment, right. So that's the shift that we're starting to see as well.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 6:46
I guess as well, the sort of experience that you've had before getting into the role you are in now, although you don't work in the sales enablement department now, getting an understanding of how they work really helps with your understanding to work with them, so do you feel like it makes your relationships with them a bit easier?
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 7:05
It definitely does. And that's, that's where I would always encourage everyone to not just think about where Product Marketing sits, but look at what the value for the business. And for us, the primary reason why we went to part of the marketing organisation, and we moved into product, because we definitely had a lot of alignment that we had to work on. And we wanted to make sure that we understood the product first, before we try to help deliver the messaging or with how we wanted to go to market. And so that that is the part I would encourage everybody to keep in mind as you're thinking about where product market should sit. And this is also the evolution that I was talking about, right? So if you think about how we look at Product Marketing today, it's sometimes people think, oh, and this has happened to me, like when I talked to other teams, they like, Oh, you, if I talk to the product team, they're like, Oh, your product, sorry, your marketing, so we'll give you all the stuff that we've done. And then you take it and go create websites and content on the website, or create an asset or collateral. And then if you talk to marketing, they're like oh your product so we we would like you to help us with Atlas updates. And kind of like the way they think about our role and where we are positioned is totally two sides of a coin. And so I see this as an opportunity for us to just like we help the company do their messaging and positioning for their product, I think it's time for us to do our own messaging and positioning of who product marketing is. So that's the evolution that I've seen where I think it's time for us to think of ourselves like if our number one priority is messaging and positioning, I think warrants for us to consider our team as the messaging experts. And so I've started looking at our team as the portfolio messaging team, and portfolio primarily because I don't think there are any companies today, and I think even the PMA report states that right? Like the number of companies that have product marketers have at least five or more products that they are keeping to succeed as a portfolio. And this was also an evolution that I've had, as I took on the leader role in Boomi where we initially started with, okay, let's actually, we added we had like, three or four product marketers, and I was one of them. And I got the opportunity to kind of lead the team, like Jan 2018. And now we are at a position where we have 12 team members actually supporting across five products, five industries, and numerous amounts of solutions that we are trying to build, right. Like, I think we have all the companies have evolved and the market has evolved from looking at, is it just about thinking about product? Or is it actually thinking about that portfolio actually coming up with solutions? So that's the ship. So that's where how we have started coining the term portfolio messaging, and I consider myself as leading that effort.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 10:05
And in terms of managing five plus products as you mentioned, is that an aspect of the job you enjoy for the variety, in a way?
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 10:14
I have, yes. And I think that's also the reality of our, the technology landscape today, right? The products that exist a part of a platform. And so you're always trying to sell the platform and you're trying to position the platform for customers to see value and that we are addressing the customer pain points. So a lot of our work that we do is trying to identify who the right buyer personas are, like when we initially started in the Boomi, we were like, yes, we basically help with integration, we solve all our customers problem, there isn't a customer in this universe that wouldn't need Boomi. And that is not the answer that will help us or the marketing organisation or the product governance, because that means you're basically trying one size fits all. And I wanted to kind of move away from that and actually help customers and also our internal, whether it's sales team or marketing team to better understand who's the person on the roadmap so that we can actually target attempted to we went down that path of identifying who the buyer personas and that actually helped us kind of break it down to we have top five buyer personas, yes, there is this 10 others that are there in RQ. But these top five are who we're going to go after this year, and that focused approach will give us the clarity that we need for our role. And then also the clarity and prioritisation that the company needs to actually get all our targeted integrated marketing programme. So yeah.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 11:45
And then just to go back as well. So you mentioned kind of how different departments in the business view your role and how it's not always aligned. In terms of position that messaging, do you think it's an industry wide messaging that needs to go out? Or is that an internal kind of that companies can do?
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 12:02
Yeah, initially, I thought it was just an internal alignment that we needed, because people didn't understand what we do and where we brought value. So initially, when we had conversations, and this is I think it's partly our fault, because we haven't done a good job of enabling and helping educate our internal stakeholders of where our value comes in. So nine out of 10 times I would have people come to us and say, primarily the product team, and say, hey, here's the roadmap presentation, pretty it up. Or I would have sales, say, okay, I'll put these slides together, can you pretty it up and like, yes, I can, but I can also help you kind of shape the message and this to do a better job. So that's why I was super excited when I saw the state of the marketing Product Marketing report come out, because it helped validate a lot of what we're trying to say. And it helped me realise that it's not just a problem that we are seeing ourselves, but it's a problem that's pervasive across the industry. And because Product Marketing is so new still, people still don't understand where we can add value. And so typically, Product Marketing is like the first hire that comes in. They're like, Oh, yeah, I have a product I'm trying to sell I need somebody in marketing to jump in, we try to do whatever we can, we put on multiple hats, we navigate through the project, only to realise that we've been putting out fires every day, then they haven't taken the time to step back. So that was last year for us. We were basically like, okay, we don't have basic data sheets, we don't have product briefs, we don't have solution briefs, so we spent the whole of last year just putting the foundation together. This year, we stepped back and said, Okay, now that we have a good understanding of what it is that we do, and what are the personas that we're going after, lets actually step back and create that messaging positioning document so that we are not the bottleneck for the rest of the organisation to grow, we can actually scale and help enable them. So we created this messaging document and it's probably like 50 pages right now, because we have across the products and industries that we're supporting. But that became the bedrock for everything that we were doing. So if we had content, so we also have a continent editorial team. So they are editing, and actually creating case studies, I always refer them to this document, because what used to happen prior was, we would get plugged into every case study that was getting built, just to make sure that the product voice was represented, and that was great. But then we were just jumping from one project to another so we couldn't separate that. I think it's an industry wide perception change that we need to bring in. And as much as Product Marketing got us to where we are today, I don't think it will help us to get to the next level, or the next stage that we want to. So I'm curious to see how companies look at portfolio messaging. And if that is the number one message, it doesn't mean that we are not going to do the things that we do today, which is helping with thought leadership, helping with content, helping with things that help kind of get the product out to the market, those things will still exist, but it's just us staying more focused and us staying in where we bring the most value so that we're not just trying to fill in the holes, or we're not trying to do whatever it takes to get the project to success, but realising that our value and our role clarity that we need is here with messaging and positioning. And I think that number two that we had was product launches, right, so if we do everything else, that means we are not doing the main things that we should focus on, messaging and positioning is number one, product launches are the second one, and then comes as part of the product launch comes sales enablement comes training comes education, like all of those things work, ARPR, all of those things coming in. So I see those two as are top priorities and aligning the organisations to understand that that's where we bring in value and then work with the other teams. Because I don't think in Boomi and I don't think in any organisation that I work with, there isn't a team that I haven't spoken to. And that's the good thing and a bad thing at the same time because they all have different requests. And we have this even in our organisation where our number one priority is product, then comes marketing, then come sales, then comes business development and partner teams, right. So that means I or my team doesn't really have the resources or the bandwidth to help with the partner enablement, or business development requirements. And their requirements are totally different from the rest of the other teams. So it's a mix that we are working with. But at the same time, it's also helping to stay focused and making sure that we are communicating our priorities. So one of the things that we do and we meet is we use OKRs, which are objectives and key results. And we basically have this published on our wiki where we say, hey, these are the objectives that we're working on. It helps kind of bring that visibility across the company. So everybody else knows where our priorities are as a team. AndI think it helps organisations to also have that focus, because then it means that my priority's your priority compared to my priority's my priority and somebody else's some other priorities and they're just conflicting, right.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 17:31
Yeah, I think that's a really great idea. So the internal communication side of things, I think a lot of the time, unless people can actually see the value of helping you as well, it's hard to understand really, but if they've got some data and numbers to put against, it really helps to get that buy in, doesn't it?
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 17:45
It does, it does. And I, it was important for us because we were going down the path of trying to do it all. And we quickly realised that it didn't matter whether I had five team members or 15 or 100, we would still have the same challenge because we are being spread too thin, as it's important for us to kind of step back and try to bring that alignment and focus across the organisation.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 18:09
And in terms of people's perceived value, would you say you've seen any shifts from when you first came into the industry to now or is it remained pretty stagnant?
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 18:19
I think there was a shift. And I think organisations like the Product Marketing Alliance are helping us and drive that shift. Because it's easy for us to think that our problems are our own. But the reality is everyone's going through the same challenges. And I think that shift is happening in the industry overall.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 18:39
So next up, in terms of a standard day, if there is such a thing, what does that kind of look like for you, and what sort of jobs and activities are you in charge of?
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 18:48
For sure. So today's supposed to be, or it is, my no meeting Wednesday. So this is my one day of productivity. Where I don't schedule any of my meetings and if I have to I'll schedule it on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday, and it's a good break between so this is my day that I actually think and work through things as compared to just going meeting to meeting. As a leader of a team of 12, if you look at my calendar, it's probably one on ones and other group meetings where I'm giving an update to other teams, or they have something they need from our team. So today is my just go through projects go through priorities. So a lot of our efforts today are focused on that buyer persona, right, make sure we have our messaging and positioning nailed down. And then also helping kind of, like work with the product launch initiative. So that's something that as an organisation we haven't done much of so we are actually doubling down on product launches and making sure we actually launch products either cadence as compared to the feature got release, and that is typically the launch nature that we have had. So those are the three priorities that I have. And typically, if I'm not in meetings, and if it is my Wednesday, then that's where my priorities will be.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 20:06
And is that a team-wide thing, your no-meeting Wednesdays?
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 20:09
It's something that I'm advocating for, and I've always asked my team like, pick any day of the week, you can do half days if you will, I think this was something that came like, like people say, you know, things like this happen when there is a necessity. So I, when I took on the role, I literally had through the whole week, this meeting after meeting and I didn't really know what I was doing with my time. And so I kind of put it up a forceful function on myself. And so I literally have an out of office mark for Wednesday's and everyone across the organisation knows. And when you have events, so we have our Boomi conference happening in the first week of October, and so things like that you will have group meetings where there is no other time, so you have to make time for it, but it's just helping the organisation and helping teams realise it. So my team's cognizant and unless there is something critically urgent and needs to happen today, they will make sure that the meetings are scheduled for any other time of the day, or any other time of the week. And then I usually work with other teams to kind of evangelise and so I also published a Forbes article talking about self discipline and how meeting Wednesday's is kind of given me my sanity to to some extent, it helped me because at the end of the day, your creative thinking doesn't just happen in a half hour block, I need a good three to four hours to kind of get through those things. And so this gives us that opportunity to get there.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 21:38
I think that's a really good idea. I'm the same sometimes if I'm forced to think of an idea on the spot, my mind just goes blank and I find my best ideas come to me even if I'm just like in the shower, I'll just think of a brainwave and think oh great. And then also sometimes with meetings, the problem is you have meeting after meeting after meeting, each meeting has an action, but then you go into more meetings so you can't actually act on your actions, so I think that's a really good way to work around it.
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 22:02
Yeah, yeah. And that's why I chose Wednesdays, and I do have few folks who have done Mondays and Fridays, but I feel like leave it till Friday, then I have a lot to catch up on as compared to Wednesday, then my Monday Tuesday. Like if there are actions that need to happen, then I'll focus on that. And then try to keep my Friday, second half a little light so that I can actually wrap up the Thursday, Friday stuff. So when I go into the weekend, I'm not thinking about work, and I'm not looking at Okay, what else I need to try to achieve. I can just shut down and then wake up on Monday morning, and then get back to work. Right? Like that's, that's the ideal scenario you want to be in. And something I think is helpful just to kind of have that discipline in your life. So it's, it's definitely helped me and I encourage everybody that I need to, to be like, hey, pick a day, because it doesn't have to be Wednesday, but whatever works for you just take that time to actually think through. Because meetings, even if you don't put it in somebody else will put something on your calendar. So that's the that's the reality of our world.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 23:02
Yeah, I think I might have to take a leaf out of your book! Could you just tell us a bit about your team dynamic and the type of personalities you have in your team?
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 23:14
Sure, yeah. When I took on the role as a leader, it was interesting, because I had a mix of junior folks and then very senior folks, and when I say Junior folks, these are less than three to five years of experience in product marketing. And I've had very senior folks who have 20 years of experience. And so I was kind of the sandwich in the middle and like, okay, I don't think there's anything I can offer the senior for because they probably have a lot more experience. But the reality is the market, the landscape, everything has changed so much that I quickly learned that there are some things that irrespective of what their experiences and irrespective, what their role is, that there is definitely an opportunity for me to guide them and coach them certainly. So the team dynamics, we have a product marketing managers whose primary focus is the product, but we also realise that just having a product marketing expert doesn't do justice to the product, so we also tied it to either a solution or an industry. So if you think about, like retail, healthcare, higher ed, these are our industries where some of our products have seen a lot of good momentum. So we kind of tie those things together. So that's a good portion of what our teams of five or six people are focused on. We then have two folks who are focused on competitive intelligence because we know that at the end of the day, if the product marketing manager, yes, the product marketing manager should have a pulse on the competition for their respective products. But then we needed someone overarching, that was looking at competition on a day to day basis and having the pulse of the market. And so we have two folks that are focused on competitive intelligence, then we have one individual who's focused on product launches, because the reality is, if product launch is just one individual, like if the team was kind of taking 10% of their time to control it, that means that we are not giving the dedication and commitment that we need. So we actually hired someone recently to support product launches. And then the other aspect that we also cover is our enterprise effort. So Boomi me as an organisation, we were focused on the SMB mid market, and now we are moved to the enterprise. And so we wanted to make sure that we understand that the audience and the personas that we were targeting for the mid market are totally different from the enterprise market, so we have we have one individual dedicated to that. So our portfolio as much as we have products, industries and solutions. We also have emerging technologies, right? So where we are leadership, and we want to make sure that Boomi as a point of view, whether it's the latest and coolest when you think IoT blockchain, or when you think about bots, or any of these things, how does Boomi play in that industry and how does Boomi actually have a voice in the market. So we cater to the emerging technologies space and that's why the team of 12 that we have, we have a mixed roles and responsibilities but that's kind of the charter that we shaped for ourselves to kind of support solutions, products and industry.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 26:26
And in terms of keeping up with an industry that's constantly evolving, how do you actually do that? Are you strong on advocating going to events, or just reading up on industry material, or?
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 26:37
We actually look at industry expertise, so pragmatic marketing, this was one of the first things when I took on the role as leading the product marketing, it was bringing alignment between Product Marketing and product management. So a lot of the product managers that were part of Boomi did both, they did both Product Marketing and product management. So we wanted to make sure we had a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities, and what would be a product marketers role and would what would be a product manager's role. And through the pragmatic marketing training, I think we had like over 30 people together, because it was not just part of management and product marketing. We also brought a few folks from marketing a few folks from professional sales engineering teams. So we had a mix, because we wanted to make sure everybody in the company, the key stakeholders that we were working with, had that same common language. And they understood where our priorities and what we were working on. And that's, that's also one of the reasons why the messaging positioning product launches became a priority for us. Because before that, it was Product Marketing is going to help us with content, product market is going to help us with presentation and help us with the website. And that was pretty much it. But now we're able to kind of re reshape that positioning and say, Okay, these are the things where we should focus on so let's actually invest in it. And so we brought on team members, so we basically doubled in the past couple of months to get to that. So yeah, I definitely see that change happening and I also see the organisation kind of being adaptive to it, right. Like if if we didn't have our Chief Product officer's support or the executive leadership support, we wouldn't have been able to do the pragmatic training for 30 plus people. And doing that helped to kind of bring everybody on the same page. Oh, this is what the different teams roles and responsibilities are and these are the gaps that we have, how do we kind of overcome that. And so we actually invest in the team going through some of those efforts. And then also, just like we have the PMM summit coming next week, right? So we are in San Francisco and I'm actually part of a panel and then one of my team members that they talking about OKRs and product marketing. So we want our team to have career growth, not just be able to complete projects, and not just be able to take on initiative within the company, but have that holistic level. So we also go through a framework that I learned from one of our Dell leadership training programmes, but it's a pretty simple framework that basically says G for grow, reality options and will. And it gives you a simple structure for you to actually say, okay, outside of your one on ones, this is like a quarterly discussion, because you don't want surprises when you're actually talking to your team member as part of an annual performance review. So this gives you that quarterly check in and say, hey, whether it is for your career in Boomi or just externally, what are some of the things that you want to achieve, so kind of setting these objectives to help you kind of get that full career growth. So we have actually been investing in team growth and making sure that we are having those conversations, and not just end of the year, so that's been another victory of mine.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 30:01
Yeah, it sounds really good as well that you've got that kind of investment in support from the wider business, like you say, even if they end up leaving, that kind of approach, I guess it really helps to get the most out of your team. So whether it's directly or indirectly, it's going to feed into your ventures.
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 30:19
For sure, yeah. And I think that is also one of the big drivers for us as an organisation. Because as nimble and fast as the company is, it also means that we are taking the time for the employees and for the teams to kind of double up where their strengths are. It's an amazing opportunity to kind of be able to take the time to do that because it's easy for us to say yes, it's not a priority right now because we have something else that is a priority, but if we all put our mind to it we can always make that a priority and the team's growth is always a priority for us.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 30:56
That's really good. And then in terms of teams outside of product marketing, like sales, product, operations, marketing, for example, which department would you say you interact with the most and what's your set-up with them like?
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 31:10
So the product management team is still one of the ones that we interact the most and 90% of our time is probably invested in making sure that we are plugged into understanding what the capabilities are. And I think someone within the PMA Slack channel that says right, think of product marketing as the bookend, right, you always want to bring the product marketers in the beginning when you're thinking about an idea so that we can actually bring the voice of the market and the voice of our customers into the mix, and then bring the product marketer at the end, so that we can actually help you take this to market, don't just bring us at the end without any context or without the messaging positioning, any of those things. So that I think is something that we see a lot of value in. And we have been working with the pre-sales team with customer success with support and services, to the extent that we can actually help them kind of bring those stories to life. So we've seen some of those activities, but just because of the resources and bandwidth, we haven't really been invested. But then I think second to product will be the marketing organisation. So working with demand generation for our integrated marketing programmes, we have like bi-weekly check-ins with them. We also meet with the sales enablement team, so making sure what we develop from the product side is actually communicated, whether it's part of the product launch or as part of an integrated marketing programme, we are tying those dots together. So that's that's another area that we have actually seen a lot of momentum. And then within Boomi, we also have what we call the cross functional leadership meeting, which happens every two weeks or every three weeks. And that meeting brings all the stakeholders across the company, whether it's marketing, product, sales, sales engineering, customer success, support. So if there are ideas or discussions that need to happen at that level, that leadership meeting helps us to bring the alignment that we're looking for.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 33:18
And then, so in your absolute dream world, is there anything about those relationships that you'd change? Or is it exactly how you'd want it to be as it is?
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 33:27
I'm sure every relationship there will be things that you would want to change, I think one that I would emphasise on is helping companies and helping teams realise that being a product first company is the right way to go. And as much as we invest in sales, and as much as we're trying to drive that approach. That's just across the industry, that's how it has been done. But I think showing them that, hey, when you actually invest in a product first company, that's how companies actually dominate and then actually building that awareness and helping them understand it is very critical. So we see that as another area of opportunity to just kind of educate them and help them understand where we bring value and I think that portfolio messaging will give them that clarity of where we come in and where where we can actually contribute as compared to the outcomes or the the deliverables that they're looking to achieve from our teams.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 34:26
Do you ever sort of find it frustrating that you feel like you have to demonstrate the value of the role of a product marketer, for example, sales departments, I guess, don't have this need as much it's just a given that they're adding to the bottom line?
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 34:39
We do, yes. And that I think, I'm glad that you brought that up. Because that I think is the main reason why we are actually investing in our dashboard. One of the key reasons why our Chief Product officer said hey, if we can't measure what we are doing, like the OKRs was one way for us to say hey, these are the activities and these are the initiatives that we are going to drive and kind of define those objectives. But then a dashboard, which would be the portfolio messaging dashboard, and this is going to help us look at a customer journey, a buyer journey and actually look at how we are influencing the use and opportunity because at the end of the day, our messaging and positioning, the product launches that we're going to do, yes, we can define KPIs to kind of say, okay, if we achieve this KPI, then this is a successful project. But then how do you tie that directly to a lead or an opportunity is still in flux. And it's still something that I think organisations are trying to figure out. But at the same time, if we are product-first, the product usage adoption is something that is very critical for us. And we should be able to drive that momentum to the PM, and I call this the PMM dashboard but that's the portfolio messaging dashboard, where you are actually showcasing where we are bringing value and where are the gaps that exist today. Some of the efforts like when we did the integrated marketing programmes last year, the big question that I had was, is this working, like is our job just to create content because we need content or is our job to create quality content. So from last year to this year, one of the shifts that has happened is, we will spend three to four months, if that means that's the content that is the right one we need, as compared to spending a month or two building two or three assets. So that's the shift that we are also driving in the organisation and I think metrics and being able to actually measure some of those KPIs and actually having a dashboard where I'm looking at the same dashboard, my team's looking at the same dashboard, the executive leadership is looking at the same dashboard will help kind of drive that change. And if there is a bottom line that we want to drive, I think it's having something like that, that will help us kind of show the value that we are bringing so that we are not trying to justify ourselves just because there isn't a direct correlation, but I'm sure there are attribution models and other ways that you can actually drive some of those outcomes. Because at the end of the day, I think if there's a synonym you want to find for product market, where is that thought leadership as, and if you're not driving that thought leadership then we are missing our mark on the industry and the market.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 37:20
That's an interesting one. And the reason I ask as well, so I'm traditionally from a content marketing background and I feel we have very similar problems, because you don't get the last touch attribution as a content marketer, the sales team will close it, or it might be a final click to PPC ad or anything else really. So then constantly having to justify how content marketing plays its role in that last touch attribution is a time old problem in my career.
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 37:46
Yes, 100%. And that's where I think we should just step back and say, hey, this is more of a strategic investment as compared to a tactical, trying to try every work that we're doing into an effort. And so like taking that step back and saying, hey, if product launches is what's going to help us drive that, then let's just double down and work on that, so you are 100% right. I think everyone's dilemma that we have today where we are trying to justify, but at the same time, also trying to focus on priorities, are we working on the right things? So if I had like one thing I would say to product marketers out there, or even product marketers who are looking to be leaders, always ask these questions when you're thinking about where you want to focus. Are you trying to fill in a gap just because the gap exists? And you can do it so you're taking that initiative and kind of being that team player, but then also as the question, how long is that going to continue? Because that means you're taking away time from something else that you've been able to focus on? And then also look across the company, like, is this a priority across the company? Or is it just one team's initiative that you're just trying to fill your shoes. And then the last one I would say is, is this the best use of the time and effort. So oftentimes, teams will work on a project only to realise that the outcome was much less than the effort that was put into it. So if you take that 80/20 rule, are you able to drive 80% results with 20% effort? Or are you actually having a 20% impact with 80% effort? Those are good markers to keep in mind so that you can stay focused and add that role clarity. And yes, we have a big challenge in front of us to help people to realise that product marketers are, because like you said right, content marketing exists, and people don't understand the difference between the two, and so they will either come to our team or to the content marketing team, or both. And we are all working towards the same goals. We want to just show we have those shared goals and objectives.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 39:56
What would you say the top three skills are that have helped you get to where you are today? And can you share some examples of when they've come into practice?
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 40:03
Sure. So as a leader, and I think this is slightly different from an individual contribution, one of the big things for me was having that focus and prioritisation. As I took on the role, I quickly realised that it's easy for us to let other teams tell you what to do. And that means that you're basically just chasing project after project. So having that focus and prioritisation was very critical. So making sure you have the discipline to say no, as much as you want to be a team player and as much as you want to say, yes, I've got this and you will try your best to not be underwater, you will be. And so we need to be able to know how much you can take on and always keep that 10 to 20% buffer right, as idealistic as it may sound we need to because there will always be projects that will be last minute or a last minute fire that we need to put down, and if we don't have that buffer then some other project is going to slip and you don't want to be the reason why that happens. So only commit to things that you can do and then the others just say no, that I think definitely helps. And I think if I had two things to keep in mind, those two would be the big ones.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 41:19
Yep, thank you. And then are there any regrets in your product marketing career that have stayed with you?
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 41:25
Hmm regrets, I think the big one for me, and I think this is also down to the whole prioritisation, is I don't think we have done justice to understanding our customers. And having the time to do that market research, having the time to understand what the voice of the customer is. And so if I look at all the things that we want to do, from messaging positioning to product launches, to helping with sales enablement and collateral, customer and market research is like the fourth one on that list, and it's the fourth one and not the first one for a reason, but I think we are doing an injustice by not actually putting that as a first priority. So if we had to like do something differently, I think it would be that because every year as we go into our Boomi World Conference we're like okay, this is our opportunity we have with breakout sessions, we talk with customers, and we want to be able to articulate and share those stories after the conference, and that doesn't ever happen just because after Boomi World then it's time for sales kickoff, and then we prioritise our efforts on that. So if we had to kind of focus our efforts a bit better, I think that would be one. I don't see that happening anytime soon. I know we'll get there, but that's definitely one that I think we have a lot of opportunity to learn and grow.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 42:47
Okay, awesome. And then you mentioned earlier, so the product team is the one you kind of collaborate with most. Is there a lot of crossover between your job responsibilities with the product team, would you say?
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 43:00
We did initially, like two years ago when the role clarity wasn't well defined. But now we have gotten to a point where PMs and PMMs are their digital twins, and they're helping each other. It was that education and bringing that alignment with the pragmatic marketing training that we did that helps us understand, okay, this is where our strengths are and this is where the PMs strengths are. Let's make sure we're helping each other and that I think helped us a lot.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 43:31
So is that something you kind of advocate to other companies, to make sure these responsibilities are quite defined?
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 43:36
Yeah, yeah. And that's primarily the reason why pragmatic marketing exists, right. Like they showed that there was a gap and there was a need for that role clarity. So I think we are starting to see more of that, but if organisations were kind of starting to build Product Marketing and product management in their companies, that would be probably the first step. And I think it helped us, because we didn't just say, okay, let's just do it for product marketing, or just for product management. We brought cross functional alignment. So we brought the stakeholders from other teams as well. And I would encourage you to look at it that way, because once you have that cross functional alignment then your initiatives, your priorities will become much, much more aligned.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 44:23
And then what does the process of introducing and influencing new products or features look like at your company? And how does it compare to previous places you've worked in?
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 44:34
The way we've done it, and this is why product launches have become a priority for us. So we have started seeing the need to not just think of, so because we are a SAS company we have monthly releases. And as part of that monthly release, you actually start seeing efforts which are features and functionality that are being released on a month by month basis, that doesn't actually mean that it's ready for launch. And it took us time to actually help the cross functional teams realise that just because a functionality or feature is going GA doesn't mean that it's launch ready. If you are thinking of actually doing a full fledged launch, we actually went through a framework of different launch levels and every product manager that said, hey, I have a feature or functionality that is launch worthy, we basically had them go through a checklist of questions. So is there a market differentiator? So we had set of five questions and we basically had them score to see if it is a level one, level two, level three launch. And as part of that effort, I think, it helped the company realise that not everything can be a level one launch, because that is a challenge most organisations have because they don't realise that if you're not doing the launch right, then you're hurting the organisation because you customers don't know that you have launched something, and just one conference announcing it is not enough. So we need to kind of build that momentum across the board and this is an opportunity that I think most organisations need to kind of double down on and Boomi has tried different options and I think the product launch framework has helped us kind of get there. So that's definitely an area that I would invest in if we had to look at it.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 46:24
And is that something you've done at previous companies before? Or was that just something you've introduced at Boomi.
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 46:30
We have had a launches, like I think every company has a different definition of launches. In prior companies, because I was part of like a technical product marketing team, yes, we did have that launch momentum. But we didn't have it as streamlined or as cross functional as we are trying to do it today in Boomi, so that's definitely a step up for us.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 46:52
And then in your opinion, what do you think needs to change about product marketing?
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 46:57
I think more brand awareness of helping organisations understand where Product Marketing comes in. And also helping companies realise where we can bring the value and basically a do's and don'ts list of hey, here are the things that are the best use of our time, and here are the things that we can do it if you need us to because you're filling a gap, but here are the things that are not a good use of our time in importance.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 47:26
And then last question, if there was any new or aspiring product marketers listening to this right now, what advice would you give them to kind of kickstart their career?
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 47:36
I would say find your path, there is no straight line for you to get to product marketing. Just like I mentioned, mine was a career path I've taken roles between sales enablement, I was also a BI analyst at a time and the BI analyst led me to get a role in technical product marketing and the technical product marketing, got me the role here in Boomi as a product marketer. So, there is no straight path, just find the path that you want to go and also figure out what kind of a product marketer you want to be. Are you a data driven product marketer? Are you a storyteller? There are different ways how you can go into Product Marketing and it's up to you to find that sweet spot. If telling stories and kind of helping package those stories, then that's one path. If you want data to support everything that you're doing, that's another path, you can be a specialist, right, you can just say hey all I'm going to focus on is one product and I'll know the ins and outs and I'll be the expert and the SME for that. Or you can say I want to be more of a generalist and kind of take a much broader approach and help kind of build that region up. And irrespective of which product marketer you become, always look at metrics and KPIs to kind of measure your success, because it's easy for us to just go from one project to the other and not really be able to reflect back and say okay, am I driving revenue? Am I driving MQLs else? Or am I driving customer retention, right? You could basically have three teams within Product Marketing doing those things, or you could just have product marketers, depending on the go to market strategy they they have, focus on one of those aspects.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 49:24
Okay, so I said last question, but you've just sparked another one so I lied. In terms of choosing what type of product market you want to be, would you say your answer to that has changed from when you started to where you are now? Or have you remained the same type?
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 49:40
I think it has changed because when I initially thought of product marketing, I thought it was just an export of understanding the ins and outs of the product and being able to take complex features and functionality and turn it into business value was the call. But as the industry has evolved, like if, if it is just one part of the company selling great, but then if it is a portfolio, then you need the team collectively to understand what each other's product strengths are. And this was an exercise that we had to do early in the year because as we were going into sales kickoff, we realised that the team didn't really know what the strengths of each other's products were and so we basically did team learning sessions to help educate our team, because if our team didn't know that, how do you expect the rest of the company to know? And that's something that as you are thinking about that portfolio, and then we also expanded to industries and solutions. And so depending on how your companies structured and how you're shaping the story, the bottom line is, it needs to be as simple as it can be. Because if it is not simple, then you will struggle with adoption and people won't understand what you're trying to communicate. But if it is as simple as they wake up in the morning and that's the first thing that comes to their mind then that's the goal that we want to achieve. I think that shifted from my initial perception of what product marketing was five years ago.
Bryony Pearce - PMA 51:05
Well that one was actually the last question I promise. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer all our questions, it's been really interesting talking to you.
Div Manickam - Dell Boomi 51:14
Likewise, I enjoyed the discussion and we are definitely on to our next wave so I'm excited to kind of be part of the wave and also help kind of bring that shift in the industry itself.