Last week, we continued mapping out the upcoming 2021 State of Product Marketing report - we’re not gonna lie, we cannot wait to get started.

Before we start tapping away at our keyboard, we need you to complete the survey, have your say, and help us shape what promises to be our most comprehensive report yet. 🔥

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Until then, let’s check out some of the discussion points from the Slack community.

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Product marketing recruitment advice

Q: What’s the recommended way to recruit/interview your potential manager? I’m a PMM at Tubular, a social video measurement company, and we’re looking to backfill a Head of Product Marketing, who will be my boss. Does anyone have any stories or questions I should ask during the interview process?

A: “I would ask about their management style, how they plan to grow the team, and how they ‘manage up.’ You can also ask about a project they felt was successful and walk you through how their full team contributed.”

Michele Bove, Marketing Director at MKB Digital

“Ask them about a time when something went wrong like a project failed or was delivered late. How did they handle that? How did they give feedback to their team? What did they learn from that experience?”

Jane Nevins, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Udacity

“Ask what they think product marketing is and what it isn't. Depending on the experience and attitude of your potential leader this may broaden or narrow the scope of your role/the team in the future.”

Melanie Karunaratne, Member at Revenue Collective

“I've never been in this position, but I just read Working Backwards, a new book from some former Amazon higher-ups and they recommend a direct report shouldn't interview their potential manager. And it makes sense. Their reasons:

  • It's uncomfortable for the candidate.
  • You’ll learn about their weakness and your colleague’s views on those weaknesses, and this could lead to friction later.
  • If you give a low grade or prefer a different candidate than one they hire, that can create a weird vibe down the line.

“If you can't get out of it with your hiring/HR team, be sure to check your bias and ask as much as you can in your interview.

“As for questions, ask them questions about their management style and philosophy. A good manager is a good coach to his/her direct reports. Here are some starter questions:

  • How have they gone to bat for a previous direct report?
  • Explain a time when they had to coach an under performer?
  • How have they helped a direct report achieve something they previously didn't think they could do.
  • How have they removed obstacles for their team been in the past?”

Andrew Abraham, Lead Product Marketing Manager at Hudl


Differences between a solution and use case

Q: What’s the difference between a solution and a use case? I’d like to recreate the site navigation for my company's page and rename the use cases to solutions. Is there a reasoning for one terminology versus the other? For some reason, my take is that solutions sound more adult?

A: “Solutions are sometimes also referred to as specific industries that the product caters to. Here's an example of how we did it for my current company.

“I can't recollect seeing use cases being used anywhere. I'd take the use case as a product feature. But if you wish to highlight the problem statements on your website, then those can be considered as use cases.”

Anand Vatsya, Product Marketing at WebEngage

“These are two different things with two different purposes.

“The use case is how a customer can use the product. These are helpful to build awareness of a need and increase usage by existing customers who may be using the product for one activity and have not considered others.

“The solution is the bundle/package you put together to solve a general need.”

Melanie Karunaratne, Member at Revenue Collective


Questions for customer interviews

Q: What are the go-to questions I should ask in customer interviews?

A: “The questions depend on the purpose of the interviews and the goals you want to achieve.

“Are you doing a VOC? Are you getting feedback from early adopters? Do you have another goal?

“I tend to present the purpose of the interview to the customer, and ask icebreaking questions. For example, ask them to introduce themselves, their company, and their business.

“Have a set of questions to achieve your goals, including open questions, ‘why’ questions, and probing questions.

“Finally, wrap up by asking the customer if they have any questions or if they’d like to focus on anything else.”

Dario Dallefrate, Product Marketing Manager at Guardsquare

“Here are mine:

  • Tell me a bit about yourself and your business.
  • When you want to learn more about [some relevant topic or industry] where do you go?
  • What was going on in your world that led you to look for [your product]? What did that process look like?
  • What were you doing/using before [product]?
  • When did you first realize you needed something like [product]?
  • How did you eventually find [product]?
  • What happened that made you confident [product] was the right fit?
  • What do you love the most about our product?
  • What do you like the least?
  • What surprised you about the product (good or bad) after you started using it? (This will help you identify gaps in your product messaging.)”

Carly Chalmers, Marketing Manager at HigherMe


What to include in a product marketing plan

Q: I just took a job as a PM, and because I never worked in a startup I was a little lost. Could someone share with me a roadmap with the main points needed to start putting together a product marketing plan?

“I’d recommend this easy framework for a product marketing plan, with 5 questions:

  1. What’s your goal?
  2. Who are your target personas?
  3. What’s your value proposition?
  4. What are your tactics?
  5. How will you execute and optimize your plan?

“If you work with course creators, a key to success is figuring how you create value for them. If you're a really small startup, emphasis should be placed on tactical execution to get fast results.”

Dekker Fraser, SaaS Marketing Consultant/Fractional CMO/Marketing Teacher & Coach

Q: We're launching a content platform soon that's free for members and we've built up a waitlist in advance of our launch.

Does anyone have tips on how best to drive waitlist folks to create their free accounts? Are there any tactics for email messaging or product messaging tactics that worked well or didn't work?

A: “First of all, I think you should look at the strategies of how some of the popular companies of today used restrictions to drive early signups, such as the likes of Superhuman, Clubhouse, Monzo, etc.

“Then you can use some other psychological tactics such as social proofs, scarcity principle, FOMO, referrals, customer advocacy, etc. to increase your signups while at the same time incentivizing people, such as when they refer others, for the increased usage of your product.”

Anand Vatsya, Product Marketing at WebEngage

“When you launch your product, do a retargeting campaign by uploading your email list to get more brand awareness.”

Alan Cassinelli, Growth Manager at Almanac

“You could incentivize your customers, by offering a prize for the first X number of registrants. We use Sendoso for incentives/rewards programs and it’s great! We mostly giveaway our own branded products for continued brand awareness/amplification.”

Amanda Groves, Director of Product Marketing at Crossbeam


How to communicate effectively with a sales team

Q: We’re having challenges with content distribution and internal communication to our sales team. Currently we communicate through multiple streams, but sales still has trouble finding/receiving the info. Has anyone else run into this and if so, found a working solution?

A: “This is an ongoing struggle for us as well. I sit on the market team and one cadence we use is having someone join the weekly sales meetings and present a slide on the latest and greatest happening, including new content.

“We also use that 5 minute commercial break to point them to our sales collateral inventory (Google Sheets, which eventually will turn into a Google Site).”

Maria Noesi, Director of Product and Client Marketing at Remesh

“The best things you can do is keep it simple. Sales people sometimes are like actors, look good, not always so bright, but can remember the lines in front of a customer better than anyone. However, they can be average at anything administrative and expect people to give them things.

“You need one name to use that is on every system, from email to Slack to Dropbox, or whatever you use so they know where to go.

“The best thing is to have an internal web page by that name with links to slides, battlecards, forms, etc. You can also set up mail rules so anytime anyone asks where it is, they’ll be sent an auto reply with the URL.

“Do the same in Slack, or set up the Slack channel for those discussions and be militant about it so people leave your wall clean.”

Keith Brooks, Chief Executive Officer at B2B Whisperer