Whether you’re building out your first product marketing function or you’re a team-scaling veteran, there’s a lot to learn and get right. To help you carve the right path and set your team up for success, we put Cheq’s Senior Product Marketing Manager, Genson Glier, under the spotlight.
During our discussion, we focused on:
- How to secure budget to recruit new product marketing hires
- Essential skills for a product marketing team
- How to structure a product marketing team
- How to set up a product marketing team from scratch
- How to align internal teams
How to secure product marketing budget to recruit new hires
Q: I'm assuming you're the first PMM in some of the companies you've built teams from the ground up in, how did you find being the first product marketer? And what was the process of securing budget to get those new recruits like?
A: There are many positives to being the first PMM in an early-stage company. You have a lot of creative freedom on how the internal structures will be set in place, are able to lead decisions on the GTM strategy and have direct communication with the main stakeholders of the company. However, while this can be great, the success of this is heavily reliant on you. I would recommend taking a page out of most development teams’ books and using an agile approach to your GTM, treating your campaigns as sprints and experiments. Often we run bi-weekly experiments to build out and test new acquisition funnels.
For securing budget, having a direct line to the stakeholders of the company can make it easier to secure budget for new recruits. Though depending on company resources, which are often limited, a more creative approach is needed. Scale is important. In the past, I've used freelancers and outsourced teams to supplement in house FTEs & PTEs until we were able to budget for internal staff. Just ensure you have consistent catch-ups and open comms when it comes to revenue and ops costs with either the financial team or the stakeholders directly.
Essential product marketing skills
Q: When you're recruiting for new team members, what are the essential skills you look for?
A: While I heavily rely on attitude when hiring additional members of the team as I believe skills can be learned - and I love teaching, the PMM team should seek to gain an understanding of all areas of the business, as it is essential to be able to communicate and work with all functions within the company so you can successfully execute the GTM strategy.
As for hard skills, I would suggest the following as a foundation:
- HTML/CSS - while this is not essential it will allow you to be less reliant on your development team and be able to execute experiments faster.
- Knowledge of current social media platforms and upcoming ones - this will give you the ability to gain insights on what audiences/potential customers reside within those domains and how to best connect with them.
- Agile mindset - not a hard skill, I know, but you will be dealing with a variety of new software and platforms for everything from data enrichment to creating collateral and being adaptive to how you use and combine these platforms is a skill in itself.
- Advert platforms - even a basic understanding of how most advert platforms work is enough, but as most people are heavily reliant on Facebook, new smaller players are popping up all the time. Knowledge of how these function can give you an advantage in achieving your Northstar metric.
- Design platforms - whether it’s Canva or Photoshop, even new video platforms such as AdLaunch or Rotato, having basic design skills always helps - especially if you have limited resources
There’s always more to learn that is why a growth mindset is required for all recruits, marketing is agile and you should be too.
How to structure a product marketing team
Q: How do you go about structuring your product marketing teams? Is there a set sort of framework you follow? And what kind of set-up have you found works best for you?
A: I would say I take some inspiration from Sean Ellis and run growth teams not dispersed departments. A brief summary of my framework would be more of a flat management layout:
- GTM lead - Supports & coordinates
- Partnerships - BisDev & new acquisition channel pathways
- SMM/GD - Content creative & curation
- GM - Growth marketing experiments, advert management
- GE - Growth engineering, development, and implementation of new tech stacks required for the team
As I mentioned earlier, we use an agile development process to our marketing practices - implementing weekly and daily standups, as well as campaign/sprints which we refer to as GMEs (growth marketing experiments).
If you have limited resources, which most of us do, batch it out. Set a clear hypothesis for each campaign/sprint, outline the resources required including costs and time, and then execute. If successful, scale. If not, move on.
*A note though, make sure you give your experiments enough time to fail properly, for instance, taking into consideration advert algorithm optimization times.
Keep it simple and ensure you maintain communication between all areas of the company, be objective with your results and not subjective, transparency is key.
How to set up a product marketing team from scratch
Q: What are the most critical things that must be done when starting up the PMM function from scratch?
A: The most important thing to remember would be that all tasks must lead to your Northstar metrics. Once you've defined this, whether it be installs, leads, sales, etc., then it's about creating systems to help you achieve those metrics.
- Define your metrics
- Set up your platforms, social channels, etc.
- Map out, build and integrate your marketing stack with your tech stack
- Establish communication and reporting frequency between functions/departments
- Brainstorm experiments/campaigns
- Set your budget
- Test, validate, and scale.
How to align internal teams
Q: How do you go about ensuring alignment as your teams begin to grow? Personally, I've found that I've struggled to keep everyone in the loop as everyone starts working on different projects and to different goals, and then things start to get a bit messy and the knowledge-sharing within PMM starts to slip, and things just perhaps aren't streamlined as they could be.
A: Really good question and a very common issue. I experience this all the time and the high-level solution would be to ensure you maintain communication and organize each function’s priorities based on company goals and the GTM strategy.
As for actionable tactics, obviously doing a deep dive on your current practices would be better to create a bespoke approach for yourself, either weekly alignment meetings or additional internal alignment comms. I mostly live on Slack and try to include a head/team member from each function in any major strategy discussions.
There are also some really good solutions from the DevOps space. Give the Phoenix Project by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, George Spafford a read as that may bring you some inspiration.