T’is the season...to not hold back and still ask and answer awesome product marketing questions. The holidays didn’t rein us PMAers back and last week Slack was still stuffed with lots of cracking threads - all three festive puns intended.
For anyone who took a well-earned break, here’s our final round-up of 2019.
Psst. If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to join the world’s biggest product marketing community, you can tick it off your list in two minutes by heading here.
Q: What did you learn this year that makes you a better product marketer?
A: Love this question! Here’s what some people said:
“Never try to fix the whole funnel. Do it step by step, starting with the first bottleneck part.”
“I wouldn't say I learnt it this year but it was solidified that salespeople will never do even 1/10th of the homework you think they will and if you want them to learn something, you need to literally force them to learn it.”
“Pedagogy is one of the most important things for a product marketer to learn.”
“Never make assumptions. Always question if the sales deck is telling the right story, if your buyer personas are clear, and if your key selling points are what you think they are. Just because your company has been doing something for a while, it doesn't mean it's working.”
“There is no substitute for talking to your customers (and non-customers). I’m continually having my assumptions reset by some insight that bubbles up in second and third-level questions about why they use our product or chose not to.”
Q: Does anyone have any advice or great books for those transitioning from an individual contributor to managing direct reports in PMM? I’m excited to help others grow, but worried about taking them through bumps due to my own inexperience.
A: These two blogs were recommended by fellow PMAers:
- The Power of Performance Reviews: Use This System to Become a Better Manager
- Coaching to Engage: 12 Rules to Effective, Ongoing Employee Coaching
And here are a few resources we dug out:
- Ten Things New Managers Need To Know
- Top 15 Tips for New Managers
- High Output Management by Andrew Grove
- New Manager Tips: a guide for first-time leaders
Q: I’m working on a GTM strategy for a new product interface (2.0) for our SaaS product and the part of the strategy I’m most concerned about is the migration of our existing customers to the new 2.0 platform. Does anyone have anything they could share on best practices or pitfalls to avoid in regards to successfully getting users to adopt a new interface?
A: Shout out to Jessica Armstrong for her top three tips:
1. Clearly communicate migration timelines to customers stupidly far in advance. Communicate early and often.
2. Have a formal procedure for relaying feedback to PMs. There’ll always be people who prefer the old way better, so it's important to understand why and determine if it's worth making enhancements to the new interface. If you don't have a formal process, customers and support will just sit on it until the week before and you'll be left scrambling.
3. Document the changes as much as possible and help customers become power users of the new interface - if I had a nickel for every time I heard "the new UI is simpler and more intuitive, customers should have no problem adjusting to these changes" only to watch customers fall flat on their face with adoption, I'd have a lot of nickels. Make your materials available in a variety of formats - i.e. articles, videos, webinars, and 1:1 training.
Advice flooded in for this one, so here are a few more bits of advice for you too:
“Have a warm-up period where customers can opt to switch to the new interface. That way, you get to see some real usage before you roll it out to a wider audience.”
- Kranthi Kiran Pulluru
“Once you set a date, stick to it even if it causes temporary pain. If you set a deadline for migration and then move it, it sends a message to your customers that it’s not urgent or of value. It might be hard, it might be painful, but I promise you it will be worth it in the long run.”
- Rachel B
“Create a pop-up for when people first log-in to the new interface. "We made upgrades that will shorten/provide/enhance? Etc….let us show you what's new and how to get started". Avoid the word "changes". Nobody likes change.”
- David Precopio
Q: What's your background? As a result of the non-traditional path that led me into product marketing, there's been a lot of "catching up" on basic marketing concepts, tools, and skills where I've had to learn it on the fly by myself. Just curious if anyone else is in the same boat!
A: Don’t worry, you’re definitely not alone. We’ve seen lots of threads like this in Slack and in our Product Marketing Insider series, we’ve been asking tonnes of people how they got into the industry and no two answers have been the same - it’s kind of the beauty of the field!
Just some of the people we’ve spoken to have come from roles in sales, customer success, engineering, product, project management and marketing.