B2B Revenue Acceleration
B2B Revenue Acceleration

Episode · 1 year ago

67: What Exactly Does a Product Marketer Do? w/ Suda Srinivasan


If you’ve been in tech long, you know about product marketers. But here’s the question:

What do product marketers actually do? 

That’s the question we posed to Suda Srinivasan, VP of Marketing & CX at Obsidian Security.

What we talked about:

  • The 101 on product marketers in B2B tech companies
  • Some specifics on a product marketer’s role
  • A product marketer is a quarterback
  • Product marketer coordinates with the technical team
  • Product marketing is a leveraged function
  • Product marketers are not simply content creators
  • A product marketer should be a problem-solver
  • The most successful product marketers

To hear this interview, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The B2B Revenue Acceleration Podcast on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or on our website.

You're listening to be to be revenue,acceleration, podcast, dedicated helping software executives stay on thecutting edge of sales and marketing in their industry. Let's get into the show, I welcome to be to be a REVENEUacceleration. My name is Oa it and I'm Hir. Today we Suda strunives and Vitmarketing at Obsidian. How are you doing today? SOTE IAALIEN, I'm doinggreat it'a pleasure to speak with you absolutely well. Thank you very much.Fucoming on the PODCAST HA appreciate it's Remembrance Day lots of places inthe world. So I appreciate you took the time to drive yourself into the OFFICEO,the podcast with us, and today we will be talking about the many arts of aproduct marketer, but before we get startet, it would be very useful to tay.You could give a brief intradiction to your company Obsidian as well asyourself, and what a been between the past pesific yeah. My name is Suda. Irun marketing at Obsidian. Security Obsidian is a Cybo security companylocated in Orange County California. We help organizations protect their staffand floud services from a COUNTC over inside he threat and some of the newthread pectors in the cloud we offer a sast platform and asast platformcontinuously monitors and analyzes access entitlements and activity inyour floud applications like sales, fo g, sweet box drop ox Etcetra. Itcollects the data normalizes the data across the coud platforms and riches itand gives you consolidated visibility into risks and feats and the user levelorganization, level and application level as ter as lagging toa securityhygiene in the cloud so aso our solution is 't a new space called louddetection and response just like and point oftextion and response or Edrsolutions like outstrike and comen black. Give you a visibility intowhat's happening on your users and point devices like mobile avises andlaptops Obsidian, that security teams continuously monitor activity andthetect, investigate and respond to security incidents in the cloud. So thecompany is founded by Industry Veterans from thilands carbon black and the NSA,the for of Sidian. I was the VP of marketing and BD AD domline security.You may have heard of them. SOMLINE was in Legue loud security and compliancemanagement space. The company was acquired by checkpoint last year, itTus, so you know I do get off from your introdiction as you come from a productmarkting background, but ITTAs Yo, very basy question. What exactly does ePulit markete do in e Beto B Tech Company? That's a great question, aegain! So that's right. I COME FROM A BTO B product marketing background. Istarted my career as an engineer then spent a few years and managementconsulting. When I returned to an operational role, it was an productmarketing, so product marketing is a set of activities involved in bringinga product to market and ensuring its commercial success. Of course, I Shaycommercial because that's very often the objective of building a new product,as you can imagine you know, product marketing. The set of activities iscritical to a company' success. Now Product Marketing as a separatefunction or role in an organization is more recent right. This is the productmarketer and a product. Marketer is responsible for developing andcoodinating the execution of the go to market strategy for the company's onIHT. So what exactly does a product marketer, really own? PODUCT marketerowns the go to market plan by just as a product manager owns the product.RECLIRMENT DACUMENT OF TERD product marketer owns that go to market plan.So what does that mean? Product Marketer is responsible for doing awhole bunch of different things, identifying and articulating who thetarget customeris the types of organizations, the roles and persona ofthe people involved in buying and using the solution and then understandingwhat their specific needs are, like so figuring out what the byers and usersneed and developing positioning and messaging for the product that helpsthe target byers understand how the...

...product makes their life better like inthis in essences. The messaging and positioning product marketer alsodefines how the company is going to reach these target customers Lihe, sodeveloping ricing and packaging, identifying the channels that thecompanyis going to use and enabling sales channel teings to reach thecustomer and sell to them. I part of product marketers role is alsounderstanding. The comparative landscape in which the prolect exist,like which solutions are likely to be seen as competitors or substitutes forthe product, one good option being you knot, do it yourself or kind ofhomecooked solutions and also being able to articulate what the benefits ofyour solution are versus others. I now produt parketers also act asevangelists and public spokespeople in talking about the value proposition inthe right way to different audiences right bean analysts or the press orcustomers. So they speak in executive, breefings, steel events, conseencesrigt and blogs. I can colums and so on. So, as you can tell some of theseactivities, a are tied to the process along bringing a product to market andthey happen before the product is launched right yeah, while others aretied to driving adoption of the product or service after launch. Okay, soproduct monketor owns the go to market or GTM plan. Now it's important torealize that ownership does not mean that your sheet does all the taskassociated with executing the plan right. ACOSODIC marketer is thequarterback for product Commercializa. That means you know it might meanworking with the executive team, on positioning working with sales and onenablement and channel fatigy and so on, riht. So there its a lot of workinvolved here. So a big part of the role is coordinating and communicatingso that everyone is on the same page about this plan yeah and what's theinvolvement of product marketing with with the CTU and the technical at wespoke about three lounce and past launte will expect the past launge tobe probably a bit more, a certain marketing relationship, marketing thethe commercial sense of the world, but wich points. Would you increase thelevel of interaction with the techniality because wo believe as aproduct market? I need to be closeter to the technical team and Undosonexactly the is now it's not just about the customers and the adover Messageis,also, probably sometimes agot getting into the grass of things absolutely rih.Then the product marketer needs to have an intimate understanding of t thespace and of the specific technologes of the companyis building. So I thinkthe involvement with the CTO and the product team starts early light rightfrom and o creating the share view of what the market looks like and theproduct of the companyis building to go after this market right. So the CTO,the Product Management Team and Alit marketing need to be on the same pageabout how the world looks outside what the specific problems are, thecustomers have and what the company is building to salve Al those probemsright. So that starts early and part of what the Product Marketing Team Tasthere is bring that outside. In view for the CTOS and product management, TeExit, doing analysis of the market and her aning, what the big friends are andessentially framing that in a way that the company can consume Tamit you'vegot a to type of communication. You've got you've, got to think about one rision where Wel PROLUC marketerwill be focusing on and user and Owt to communicate with an user and creatingcontent for them Itca, but but also the rule of an internal communicator inbetween seris marketing products, technical and potentially peses as well.Trihe. Yes, you nailed it so big part of this is external. Communication ishow the company and product are perceived by the world, and that isthat is very often what people see as the rule of marketing O lot ofmarketing. But the flip side of this is just building internal cosasion thanaccoordinating the efforts of the different teams and making sure thateveryone understands n w. everyone has...

...a consistent view of what the outsideworld looks like and what the company is building right. So the big part ofwhat you're doing is also communicating internally, so that everyone's on thesame page right and- and this has to happen- it's an ongoing process becauseyou know, plans change. You come up with product market in a hypothesesproduct market, od hypothesis, and then you need to kind of work fith. Thatplan and everyone, as especially as the company grows, want to make sure thatsales marketing, rotact CTOS office are all aligned in terms of ow. What it isthe company is selling. What does the market look like? What is the storythat you want to be telling customers? I becou consistency. Ein this soabsolutely MPO yeah, you Ed, to tell you somestories internally, an Expennallis but building the cultures, Werso, probablya strong pillow of the culture. What would you say are the mainchallenges of the role Ai'm trying to Waidt up en question, because it maydepend on the type of company you are working for and everything, but if youwere to semm them up and n a few sentences wewhat would you sellthe main chaanges of off product marketals Nowwhata Iin, today's market?That is a great question right. I think one of the things that prodestmarketers have to realize and and companys will LAV realizes that productmarketing is a levelaged function. What I mean Byt, that is potes marketerswown, to go to market plan, but like product management, a product manager,for example, figures out what what the company should be building theSPLETIVECAR of features that customers need and wil pay for Product Managerowns the PRD and coordinates execution, but does a product manager actuallybuild a product? No, you have engineering for that. So, similarly, aproduct marketer in person, this responsible tort, coordinating theexecution of the botomarket plan, but this usually happens through theefforts of other teangs. So pobay marketer has to understand that theirwil is quarter backing, but does not mean that they have to carry the ballevery time right. They have to basically work with sales work withmarketing work through product management, to execute things right,and so it's essentially a role that involved ownership, but not necessarilythe authority to go and de things right. It's a function, t that works bestthrough others in the organization as well, and so understanding that is keepand essentially having it's also a relatively new rule right having aperson who's responsible for this. It's a relatively new thing in organizations.So very often there is not a common view of what exactly product marketingshould be doing like yeah. This is something that that you see time andagain where the organizations topictly look at Batis marketing as the I, therole is Usan, usually more narrowly defined right in these companies arproduct marteters are sentrally a content, creative Liktin ta. That'swhat I meant that Thespatwi was leaving with my questionis that sometimes Ithink there is a bi confusion between content. You know evensometaylegeneration, which I think is is completely different, wor, but H. Ithink you submitupin t in the perfect way, yeah so eavin product marketingrole is very narriwly defined in the sense that people think theyessentially contenuators Li in wite paper they receive thetitation an so onand you can see. White Product Marketing is associated wit, tiuse Ike,because tills, an marketing teemes, need good content, and it is a tactical,immediate need in many companies and very often product marketers are theonly folks in the COMPANIS that are tasked with reating forallit content,so oit marthe does af pirst need to have strong communication skills, bothiter men, verbal, but if your company is seen Cralit, marketers youry ascontent creators, you are not using the function in a smart way like theproduct, marketer whers, many many half, so par Os Marteters, a strategist, eorshe's, an evangelist and adviser to sales, tand marketing and in generalbusiness problem. solver like sixy person, so product marketers, the goodones, see themselves as business owners and twey'll do any and everythingneeded to make the product a commercial success right, and so the co down haveto look at thes sunction, as this kind...

...of broader role of POB solving a tartand product commercialization, rather than just can't ince yeah. That makesthat makes perfect sense. Isthat what you would say, thedifference between a good product marketer to a great product market E isactualy. Someone we manage to get that that sort of strategy outlook on thingsrather than just going into the details of the product yeah. So that is that'sdefinitely a question. I've thought about a lot. I think I think that isonce the startin point right. Product marketers are essentially productowners. They have to think like function, axlostic leaders and theyessentially do what needs doing like building bridges across theorganization problem solving. So you work with sales and marketing toidentify bottlenex in the sales brosces and shorten them one by one biht.That's why prod uct marketer should be thinking it is. Where is what is whatis causing dgays in the sales process? What is causing limited success interms of customers, discovering the solution and then go and solve that oneby one? That is what a product Parker should be thinking about now the bestprodect marketers that I've seen can really get into the mind of thecustomer and understand their needs and tains and speak their language right.So they recognize that their function really starts with tha customer now,when you see that messaging is done right, it really doesn't sound. Likemarketing came up with it like very often you hear customers dispessivelysay that was just a bunch of marketing fuf yeah. That problem with that iswhen there's a disconnect between how the product marketer speaks andcommunicate the value and what the customers see the world as right. If aproduct marketer is grounded in the customers reality, they will be able toarticulate what a product says and does in a way that feels authentic and wilright. hest way to do this, I found jis to build a personal connection withcustomers speak with customers in a regular basis, start kind of talking tothem about their problems, so that you're not sitting in a Ivary Tober.There's one other thought which is you know you said Gais marsiters have to bestrategic. There is, I would say, product marketers need to have mentalflexibility right. The ability to Zo man so out get super tactical and thinkabout specific Collatera, specific content, specific programs that willhelp customers a different points of the buyars journey, but also room outand understand how the strategic landscape is shifting right. Forexample, if a comparitor bought a company, what does that mean for youright? How do analysts define the space that you are in and how is that Vewenvolving? So there is this kind of mental agrobatics of you know onemeeting Yore sitting and talking about specific programs, forlateral and so on.The very next meeting you could be sitting and talking about you know:where, should the company be headed, most more broadly mostlytagic Te,housee, staye, evolving, right, what' happening to the comperitive landscapeand so on right? So this requires that you kind of keep a singlr on the pulseof the industry. Tayntwith what's happening, what are you doing, what acompetitors doing what a analis talking about? What the TOT leaders ore, thepeople that are kind of guiding and shaping customers buying decisions andidentifying patterns from your own industry from the past as Fer as fromother industries right. So this is the pactof matching, is something thatessentially like business wisdom right and you develop that with experienceand with you know enough, reading and exposure to the to the world out thereyea that takes. That makes perfect sense. So it's folmost a question of asan in internal product marketer. You would almost benefit from havigexperience of having been aninuser at some POC in your life to reallyunderton that war, because at the end of the day, if I'm, if I'mtranscripting will saying Wel whet iproses, you've got to makegeneralities because you need to market so Yeu need to to to Appel to nojustgin o individual, but groups of individuals. But it's really aboutgetting on Te. The skin of your user under some docttonengies, as well aspotentially magitatup with your competition and everything so Soalrsothos on the Oushon that they've got is...

...a fright. That is right. I mean youhave to really get under the skin of your customers, understand how theythink about making the buying decision. Rike I mean who are the first of all.How do they think about the space? Do they have the progems that you thinkyou can solve for them and being able to use the right? I mean I've seen thatif you use the right serminology, if you speak about the problems using theword that they associate with, there is a much stronger connection between themessage and the customers like because they have to. These are terms that theyuse tey in they out and Theyr desclibing their problems or theirchallenges. So essentially, you need and the ability to Taythe problems inthose in their terms and really understand how big a problem it is forthem light. Is it anurgent issue, because, especially when you're talkingabout messaging in positioning for a startup like one of the big things isyou are starting with a set of hypothesis? You believe that you knowthe right messaging for the customer, but this is really where you know youhave to evolve. The messaging very stictly, based on the feedback you getand the best way to do that I found, is to think like the custom R. Now thiscould mean that you spend sometime as the end user like for us. It would bethe sesose organization or you essentially spent enough time with themthat you learn through us. Mosus like you internalize the messaging and thisASE whis comes with. You know, exposure and again spending time in the issuesof course, of course, now that o doe som completely- and it seems to me at-and I think you mentioned- that on on the conversation the rule is- is kindof new othoolis evolving. So can you take a what you believe or what yourthoughts on on the shifts of the rule in the last FYEARS? I would think ois,eworting Ou and also what Inmean teresinalsoing from his whatl. Do youthink the road is going? The best is one thing: othe world, you think theworld is great. Would you W ul? Would you would you say that the productmarketing should havear sit at the boats? That's a great question again. Ithink product marketing has has evolved quite a bit in the time that I've beenin Fodek Mar today and I've seen a couple of big ships right. The first isthe role is starting earlier and earlier in the organizations like at abig question that start of CEO face is whom they should hire first in thebarkeing team, and it used to be a no brain. It used to be the dimansionmanager or director who could start learning events and campaigns quicklyfor the company right, but I'm starting to see product marketing, managers anddirecters being brought in as the first marketing higher, and I think this ishappening for a number of Lusens. The first one, like I said you know gettingproduct market fift is critical for the company and very often you know founderstart with poduct market. Find Hypothesis Lit. You start with a setoff Lefe that if you have a specific product and a specific message andpositioning customers Wi buy it, but you need to feel Testte psypotisist andquickly, couse, correct on tecagin positioning and so on and evolve thestory based on teeback. This is product marketers, Chool, strength, right andone of the other big challenges or changes in marketing is that customerswant to do their research and get educated on a space and the differentvendors before they start engaging with companies for seriously right, yeah. Soless less and less of this kind of cold outreach and more and more of puttinggood content out there having a solid website having consistent message thatpeople wanting to learn more about, you can engage with right, and this isagain something where product marketers essentially can help you bill thatconsistent voice of who you are so that you can amplify your Grand Tan pesentslater so again, you start with a lot of marketing activities. You know onething that that you know as the BP of marketing I keep thinking about is atwhat point do I need to bring in a role internally versus using working withcontractors and consultants right? In my experience, the function that Ifound hardest to outsource is essentially product marketing Ih,because it's so close to what the company is about, that you need to havesomeone in product marketing who can...

...start building that story. It isessentially defining the identity of the company has seen from outside rightnow. The other big ship that I've seen is product marketing as anexactivysunction companies are hiring EPS and SBPECE of product marketing, asopposed to a lower level function. Earlier, OT use a cap out a directosenior director Nd, a min that willed up into a vt of marketing obviousy ofpoduct, now you're, starting to see product marketing having higher andhigher level positions in the organization, even at the excect nevelright yeah, and this is again because product marketing is seen in thefullest sense of that way, which is you know, understanding all the differentpieces of product marketing, the Tes as in Advancin Mi School, a a strategistas an excusion arm for go to market right. So I think that is one big shitthat is happened, which is understanding the full sense of whatprodect marketing meed now product marketing, of course, has two sisterorganizations or sister function, Oneis, product management and they ave thistechnical marketing. Like one thing that I have seen, organizations thegood ones do is actually o offer rotations between these thee, because agood product marketer can do the things that are required for productmanagement and Vice Verson of this can be a controversial posision. But if youdo it right, you have product marketers who understand what it takes to build eproduct. You know the product management role as for as to get downinto the technology and really explain the technical detail so producttechnical product management, technical marketing and product marketing havekind of a rotation function where a persons in Geno Gos thou those threedifferent roles and you know essentially, learn all the aspects ofbuilding and bringing a product t market. Okay, my lest question I sogain a mabea way, topen one, but it's realy, l expience with at what would bethe main advice you would give to any product market or listening to t ALconversation today, yer so get into the mind of the customer, never lose thattouch with the customer like because the moment you do that. Every otherfunction that is depending on you for and of the Voice of the customer losesout right so find a way to stay connected with the customer and keep itreal right. So e could customers on a regular basis and think about howtheywill engage with the stuff that you put out there like tear programs, we adanything else and poduct marketer owns more than they are directly. You knowaccount responsible for in the sense that they have to think of themselvesas business leaders as functioning nostic leaders and do what needs doingright. That means working with sales working with marketing working withproduct working with customer success across the board working across allthese to do what he's doing right. It's like a se yearoll in the sense thatyou're responsible for a lot of things, but it's not that you're going toactually go into all the things that you're responsible for you have to workthrough people and wit people to make it happen. Yeah it's true, ittrue,Testamen, F for for liadeship cares. Ver a EIN getting Teg de Rosos wasalways a tough one. I agee, I think that is that is really rather magichappen to ten. I agree with your FA. I think you're right her, you, probably you probably o transition were wer. Wesee polic marketing becoming mone. My Portan, I think it's partcularly comingpreduminous in Yousu base, Wich Shoul, SAV or security, because in that spaceyou've got one more competition, so I think people, probably our company, isprobably a few years back at less requirement to really understand thadifferent shetor to really understond the mine of that prospect, and theycould have thought to probably be successful without without really goodgetting into the brain of thet prospect or the UNUSERS, and I think now it'scompletely different. I think realy. I think the company's. Why equipp withthe best product marketing team, as well as the best Sel Siman? You know,as you said, all those function are ot independent from each other. I need tohave people wo. Can execut O Wrong Product Marketing Bu? I think thecompanies wire equipping themselves...

...with a strong product marketing team,probably putting a techin e in a better position and and also the rest Commentames that you know Tutou Congestion, we ving to them. I'm kind of kind ofthinking about some of t, the marketing leader that we know an some of ourclients and- and I do Beniev that most of the most of the the success for CMOS Ol the sals hearmost f the people. I can kind of pick up the right company and do the rightthings. itually. The people want us on the probuct very well, and people Wyablre to picture the product. They could pitch the product potentially toa technical person as well as a silever person. You had AMEIA EE TO BE AL right.Then me AP. This is perticular to Anbe, to be where you know, youare selling,especially in BTB Hig tech, where understanding the product is kind ofcritical to really understand how to communicate that the Customr kid it'snot just brand message so yeah. I agree with you. Well, I want you to thank youtoday, Torthereforefo fo, for your all. Your incites man really appreciate youto Ge Goo time as discussin away is supposed to be. We don't know if it'sso lotsarly, they Arnotin the US tat. Some of some of some of our clients arewalking but going on the west coast today, but not everybody is working,but I do appreciate you. You took the time to come in today and discuss poetmarketing with us and real onro the conversation. If everyone wants to follow up on thetopic today, discuss with you feller or even speak about obsidion, what be thebest way to get intouch with you yeah you can reach out to me on Lintonortwitter. My handle on twitter is sodash Univasen. You can also connectwith Ubsidian on twitter at obsidian sex. That's wonerful! Well again, manymany secons for your time, todays wit Ha. It was great to Aae show thanks forhaving me on. The bokdasts. UPERADICS has redefined the meaning of revenuegeneration for technology companies worldwide, while the traditionalconcepts of building and managing insize sales teams in house has existedfor many years, companies are struggling with the lack of focus,agility and scale required in today's fast and complex world of enterprisetechnology sales see Ow operatics can help your company accelerate pipelineat operatics. Dot Net you've been listening to be to be revenueacceleration to ensure that you never miss an episode subscribe to the showin your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening until nexttime.

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