Over the past weeks, I had lost touch with my colleagues in Marketing, so I decided to take advantage of some mutual schedule alignment and catch up with our Product Marketing Manager.
On at least one previous occasion, I have mentioned how delightful it is to have a genuine Product Marketing Manager on the team. There is a distinct role for Product Marketing that sometimes doesn't manifest in product companies until they've reached a certain stage in their growth. Until then, those key activities and responsibilities will be carried out by people in other positions, who probably already have too much to do.
I was one of those people.
Our company had finally reached that growth stage and now had a full-time PMM who was in charge of tackling the myriad tasks associated with taking our products to market.
What drove this decision
As you might expect, our new PMM became busy as well, dashing any aspirations I had of working side by side with her on a regular basis. We both still had many other priorities competing for our respective time.
But there had been some early achievements. Over the past few months, I was able to transition the Release Communication planning that accompanies each formal product release. Neither of us was ready to put those tasks on auto-pilot just yet and expected to do some additional tweaking. Beyond that, we were eager to tackle a whole host of new product-related activities that we would now be capable of performing. This would require more coordination.
The decision: Regroup with my counterpart in Product Marketing to get our collective and connected plans in order.
I will admit that, up until recently, my priorities and focus around go-to-market had always been more short-term in nature:
- How do we pull together and update all the product collateral for the upcoming product release?
- Who is writing the Release Notes, delivering the webinar, training the Sales Engineers?
- What needs to change on the marketing website, in the knowledge articles, in our sales presentations
- How are we communicating changes, if any, in our pricing or bundled offerings?
- Do we have customers that can help us with promotion via testimonials, reviews, or case studies?
All these questions and more are now being fielded by our PMM but I still care very much about the answers and outcomes and, in many cases, am still on the hook for supplying some of the critical details.
Plan of attack
Weeks had passed with very infrequent contact between us so we had more than a few ducks to get in a row. We had to square away some short-term tasks and also finalize a few of our longer-term projects.
Revisit the Release Communication Plan
We had been executing well on the Communication Plan for the last few releases. It was now a familiar exercise but one that still requires coordination. Given that this was our last big push of the year, we were both hoping to finish strong.
Methodically, we walked through our checklist which included, among other things:
- Creating the material, prepping, and rehearsing for the post-release webinar
- Sending the series of teaser emails to customers to register for the webinar
- Conducting brief user surveys before and after the release
- Crafting a press release for one of the prominent new features
- Refreshing the internal sales collateral to better communicate the enhanced product messaging
- Updating the technical sales demos to reflect the product updates
Prep for upcoming talks with Analysts
In a few of our larger sales opportunities, we were painfully reminded of how important it was to have visibility with prominent industry analysts. In response, the company had launched an initiative to get us back on the industry analysts' collective radar and re-introducing them to our latest and greatest from the product side was a big part of that push.
Building on some introductions and (albeit brief) conversations we had had with analysts at a recent trade show, the PMM had set up some individual briefing calls to re-engage with these industry experts. She and I walked through the schedule and the best way to approach each call to maximize credibility with our larger customers and prospects.
Complete last steps of new product launch
One of the best things to happen this year for me was launching a brand new product to the market. It was my first since stepping into the new role and I was eager to see it take off.
The PMM and I had been executing a solid product rollout plan for several weeks now and we were nearing the end of the operation. The final steps were to get the new product listed in a prominent app store, and then begin a vigorous campaign with the Sales team to introduce and upsell the app to existing customers.
We confirmed that after testing the response from our core base, we would ramp up the product marketing efforts and make a much stronger push to the greater market.
It is a satisfying feeling to get caught up when you feel behind. We both came away from our meetings this week more confident about our plans for the rest of the year. In my opinion, regular email-based discussions and ongoing status updates are often adequate but, for the critical matters, I'll take uninterrupted, face-to-face meetings any day of the week.