Lawrence Chapman - PMA 0:02
Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Product Marketing Insider podcast. I'm Lawrence Chapman and I'm a copywriter here at PMA. Today I'm thrilled to be joined by Olivia Michaud, Product Marketing Lead at Tresorit. Welcome to the show, Olivia.
Olivia Michaud 0:14
Hey, thanks for having me.
Lawrence Chapman - PMA 0:17
Thank you so much for joining us. To start off with Olivia, could you give the listeners a brief insight into your current role at Tresorit, please?
Olivia Michaud 0:26
Yes, of course. So I was brought on about six months ago as the sole product marketer to help set up the function at Tresorit. Tresorit is a Hungarian startup that has grown to around 100 plus employees. We're active in the end-to-end encrypted cloud storage, collaboration, and file-sharing space.
We cater to both businesses and consumers. But our core business strategy lies on the B2B side. And the cofounders basically recognized the value of PMMs quite a few years ago, I think, but for various reasons, not all I'm aware of, I think, the product marketing function, with a strategy, a vision, covering the width and breadth of the discipline had never really taken off.
So I've come in and I now sit as part of the product organization, reporting to the Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer. In short, I'm responsible for bringing the voice of the product to market and the voice of the market to the product. That's how I like to summarise it.
Lawrence Chapman - PMA 1:39
Sounds great, and what is it that made you want to become a product marketer in the first place?
Olivia Michaud 1:45
That's a nice question, actually. I've always enjoyed liaising with stakeholders, talking to people on different teams and I also like project managing and strategizing. But, crucially, as well, I like feeling like I can have an impact on the products that we bring to market. And product marketing does just that.
I feel like I'm a little bit of an orchestrator where I can relay crucial market and customer feedback to our product teams and I help them shape the roadmap and discover new features. But I ensure as well, our sales team is equipped with the product and customer knowledge they need to succeed but also listening to the feedback that they get from their conversations with customers.
Ultimately, translating all of that product info into a marketable value proposition that the marketing team and I can work on bringing to customers. These were all the things that I thought placed me at that center strategic orchestrating position that I was really excited about.
Lawrence Chapman - PMA 3:01
Okay, great. How did you originally get into product marketing? And can you talk us through what your initial role looked like as a product marketer to where you are now?
Olivia Michaud 3:11
Yeah, and I think as many of your previous guests have said, it's not something that I ever planned. I don't think many of us starting out in the working world are aware of product marketing. I actually have a background in journalism.
I started my career PR side, agency-side PR. But I've always been curious, eager to learn. So I moved into more of a B2B growth hacking role at Skyscanner. That allowed me to cover a much broader range of marketing channels and tactics. This is where speaking to some mentors, I became aware of what product marketing is as a discipline.
Sure enough, it became clear to me looking at the B2B organization at Skyscanner that there was a huge gap waiting to be filled by a PMM. Fast forward some conversations with the manager and a business case to the CMO, I became Skyscanner's first B2B PMM. At the time, actually, there were no B2C PMMs either, but I think there might have previously been.
After that first period, a lot of planning and processes and sort of educating. I was meeting with sales and product leads, explaining to them all the different ways I was going to be able to help them, and setting up all different ways of working together. Those were my first few steps in product marketing.
Lawrence Chapman - PMA 4:50
That sounds like a great, really exciting first step into where you are now. Obviously, it's been an exciting journey I imagine for you. Can you tell me what your direct team looks like now at the company where you are in terms of direct numbers and roles?
Olivia Michaud 5:14
Yeah, so, as is often the case, I understand from this podcast and my own network, I'm the sole product marketer at Tresorit for the time being. As part of the product marketing vision and the business plan, there's a plan to grow that team, most likely starting with sales enablement, and market industry intelligence roles.
I can't say much more at this stage, but I would encourage anyone whose attention I've just caught to keep an eye out on Tresorit's LinkedIn page for any openings in the product marketing team because we're at a stage where we're ready to take the next step and scale this product marketing team.
Lawrence Chapman - PMA 5:59
That sounds really exciting, definitely. It's nice to see that product marketing has been introduced as a function at the company and certainly positive that those initial plans are flourishing into something bigger. So best of luck.
In terms of your relationship with teams outside of marketing, say for instance sales, product, operations, etc. which departments would you say that you interact with most as a product marketer? And what can product marketers perhaps do to communicate with internal teams to greater effect?
Olivia Michaud 6:37
Okay, so at Tresorit, I interact on a daily basis with our product and sales teams, as well as our marketing team. But I also have regular touchpoints with our customer support team. I think the key to better communication between those teams is you've said it like communication. Setting recurring one-to-one meetings with all of your senior stakeholders in these departments is, for me, a good starting point.
And in the craziness that is our outlook diaries, I still find it immensely valuable to have that weekly slot with key stakeholders where we can share, receive updates directly, and I can ask questions, and ask for clarifications. It means that I'm aware of everything that's going on early on, and I can give feedback in a timely manner. What I would also perhaps say is, we're not all co-located, especially these days.
So I would recommend also thinking about, I don't want to call them rules, but maybe ideas or best practices for asynchronous communication. Because we can't spend all day every day on zoom. So how do we communicate and keep each other updated amongst these teams?
At Tresorit, for example, we ask for feedback and input on strategy pieces or content pieces using Confluence pages, we coordinate smaller admin tasks or little questions on Slack. And we track and update each other on more operational tasks, using JIRA. That means that we have a constant stream of info to keep us updated.
Lawrence Chapman - PMA 8:35
Okay, great. I don't know whether or not you've seen this but I'm gonna go in with a shameless plug but we've just literally released the 2021 State of Product Marketing report.
Within the report itself, we found that 68% of product marketers are looking to move on to the next stage of their product marketing journey. Product marketing as a function and more people are entering product marketing, and fewer people are pivoting into a separate area. It almost makes it a little bit more difficult in that sense for newbies coming into product marketing to then forge a career as an entry-level product marketer.
What would you say the top three skills are that have helped you to get to where you are today in your career, that newbies could potentially apply to their job search?
Olivia Michaud 9:38
Another great question. I think there are loads of transferable skills. I don't think we can really think in product marketing of a set of hard skills or soft skills, well maybe soft skills, but hard skills that you have to have. It's not like a science field where if you don't know how to do this thing, you'll never be able to do this job.
If I have to dilute it a little bit to three major things, I think an ability to synthesize and understand complex information and redistribute it in a concise digestible manner is one thing that has helped me a lot. Whether it's externally in marketing communications, or internally talking to stakeholders, that's been something really valuable and it's been appreciated amongst the people that I work with.
And a curiosity really, and eagerness to keep learning and solving problems with creative solutions. Product marketing will never be the same, there are some things that you do in product marketing that are say, formulaic in their process, but it will never be the same in content. So you'll always have to be thinking of new ways to go about challenges and to meet your goals.
And finally, maybe stakeholder management or being able to coordinate between different teams on initiatives where there were a lot of different people involved. A bit like a project manager, keeping the ball rolling forward, all the while managing everyone's expectations. Again, that sort of orchestrator role that I like to refer to.
If I can throw in a bonus one, I know you said three, I guess, as wide an experience as possible in executing different marketing tactics, or even any kind of understanding of sales processes, is also valuable. I'm not a lifecycle marketer. I'm not an SEO expert, nor am I an events manager. But throughout my early career, I had the opportunity to try different tactics on different channels.
That baseline understanding of marketing as a whole, if there is such a thing, has proven to be super helpful when putting together strategies or launch plans, or briefing documents. So I think, one skill or a summary of skills would be to try and get a breadth of understanding, having a baseline understanding of different marketing tactics, of a sales process without being an expert. But that will set you off on the right foot.
Lawrence Chapman - PMA 12:54
Sounds great. I noticed when I was doing a little bit of research before we started the podcast, I had a little bit of a snoop on the LinkedIn profile and you've got experience in bringing product, sales, and marketing together to work cohesively. But what would you say the secret is between bringing the three teams closer together?
Olivia Michaud 13:22
So the secret sauce, I'd say, is making sure that everyone knows what part they play in successfully bringing a product to market and keeping it there. Ownership and responsibility usually means that everyone will understand why they have to work closely and highlight dependencies. I'd say documenting processes is a good way to achieve that.
At Tresorit, for example, we have a black-on-white go-to-market process from product discovery right through to post launch, what do we need to do? When do we need to do it by? And who owns that piece? And we go for it on a bi-weekly basis in a status meeting, with sales, support, product, and marketing all present, so that we can chat on the progress that's made.
Finally, start conversations early. I think with all three teams and just involve them together. It can be with team leads, it doesn't have to be the whole organization every single time. But I see it as the PMMs responsibility to ensure everyone is involved in discussing as needed, that you get the right players together in the room, and that you act as a translator.
So what does this product mean to the customer and who is that customer? Why would the customer want to buy it? And if the sales team is Is there, how should they be talking about it? And how can you help them persuade with some arguments? So those are the things that I try and pay particular attention to.
Lawrence Chapman - PMA 15:16
Okay, it sounds very much the product marketing function is in really good hands at Tresorit and the plans moving forward sound really exciting. But what would you like to see change within product marketing itself on a broader scale to make it even better?
Olivia Michaud 15:39
Product marketing is amazing, nothing can make it better. No, I mean, I love the fact that even though it's a relatively new function, there's a huge product marketing community, and everyone is very keen on sharing learnings, processes, experiences. I love the idea of open-source collaboration between peers.
But while there are some clear hubs for product marketing hiring, for example, Berlin, London, Barcelona, in Europe, for example, I've realized since joining Tresorit that there's scope to craft product marketing talent in other locations as well. It's hard to find experienced product marketers, any level of product marketers in Budapest, for instance, where Tresorit is based.
And even in Munich where I am today, there's a huge B2B high tech industry, but product marketing is only just starting to become a thing. So while B2C product marketing is maybe slightly more widespread, I'd love for many more B2B tech companies to tap into that skill set we can offer.
Lawrence Chapman - PMA 16:59
That's fantastic. Nothing comes easy to anyone in any walk of life, or any professional capacity and product marketing isn’t exempt from that. What challenges have you encountered during your product marketing career so far? And how did you overcome them to almost excel in your role?
Olivia Michaud 17:24
Product marketing is amazing because it's such a wide-ranging function and it can mean very different things in different companies. That's a curse and a blessing maybe. It's the beauty of it, because you can shape the role or shape the function, depending on the company size, where it is in its lifecycle, its needs.
But there are also loads of grey areas that you have to navigate because product marketing doesn't have that clear demarcation line, so to speak. So every time you go into a new PMM role, the question is, who owns sales enablement? Who is responsible for developing personas? And the answer can be slightly different and you have to figure that out, and set with stakeholders, ways of working.
The key to overcoming that, I think, is just to recognize, and that was hard for me, that you won't be able unless you have a team of 50 plus product marketers, in which case like amazing, I want to hear from you, you won't be able to cover the whole spectrum. You need to figure out what makes sense for the business right now, where you can have the biggest impact, and focus on doing that well.
All the while being open to that may be changing as the company evolves, of course. That would be for me the biggest challenge I've had to navigate. Where do I set the line? What do I do and what do I not do? Because I would want to have a say on everything but there's only so many hours of the day.
Lawrence Chapman - PMA 19:29
I know tell me about it, it's something that I can totally relate to, it never seems as though there are enough hours to get what you need sorting. Last but by no means least Olivia, it's been fantastic talking to you. One more question.
If there are any new or aspiring product marketers who are listening to the podcast today, what would your advice be to them to get the most out of their product marketing journey?
Olivia Michaud 19:56
First of all, probably product marketing is a great call, but I'm biased very clearly. The real advice, probably reminding yourself to tap into your strengths and to try and shape the role to suit your skillset as much as possible.
Focusing on getting to know the customer is the first thing that you should do, really get to know your customers on paper, if you have user research, or a previous PMM has done some persona development work, that's fantastic. But personally speaking to them, one to one interviews, shadowing a sales colleague, for example.
But you need to be the one reminding everyone who you're building for, and who you're marketing to. That's what I see as my responsibility as well. Just always reminding everyone there's a person at the center of this, and this is who that person is and this is what they care about. And finally, maybe to communicate clearly and early with your stakeholders.
You'll have to understand their pressures, I would look to understand exactly what they need to do their job well, and position yourself where you can add the most value. For example, what does the product team need most from you? It depends on how many product managers you work with, but what is it that you can do for them that will help them most?
And the same for the sales team or what does the marketing team need to communicate your product's value to the target audience? And try and get that to them because as we touched on before, you'll have to reduce the scope and concentrate your efforts and not be afraid to really hone in where you can add value and just focus on delivering that.
Lawrence Chapman - PMA 22:09
Olivia, that was absolutely fantastic. Thank you so much for joining me. I hope you've enjoyed what I believe was your first experience on any podcast.
Olivia Michaud 22:20
It was, thank you so much for having me. It was great fun and I hope it can be a little insight into product marketing for anyone listening. Really thank you for your time.
Lawrence Chapman - PMA 22:33
Thank you for joining us.