B2B Revenue Acceleration
B2B Revenue Acceleration

Episode · 2 years 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 were listening to bb revenue acceleration, a podcast dedicated helping software executives stay on the cutting edge of sales andmarketing in their industry. Let's get into the show. Hi, welcome tobe to be a revenue acceleration. My Name is opinion. With you andI'm here today. We stood out Strini, vest and VP marketing at obsidian.How are you doing today's at a Hi Alien, I'm doing great,for pleasure to speak with you. Absolutely well. Thank you very much forcoming on the PODCAST. To the appreciates its remember and day in lots ofplaces in the world, so I appreciate you took the time to drive yourselfinto your fie to the podcast with us, and today we will be talking aboutthe many hats of a product marketer. But before we get started, itwould be very useful today you could give a brief introduction to your company, Obsidian, as well as yourself and what you been between the past.Basically, yeah, my name is Soda. I run marketing at obsidian security.OBSIDIAN is a cyber security company located in Orange County, California. Wehelp organizations protect their staff and loud services from a count take over insider threatand some of the new thread tractors in the cloud. But we offered afast platform, and a fast platform continuously monitors and analyzes access entitlements and activityin your cloud applications like sales force, g sweet box, drop box,etc. It collects the data, normalizes the data across the cut platforms andwhiches it and gives you consolidated visibility into risks and threats at the user level, organization level and application level, as well as flagging for a security hygienein the cloud. So as still, our solution is in a new spacecalled loud detection and response, just like endpoint detection and response or Edr.Solutions like route strike and carbon black give you a visibility into what's happening onyour user as endpoint devices like mobile devices and laptops. I'm city and lesssecurity teams continuously monitor activity and detect, investigate and respond to security incidents inthe cloud. So the company was founded by Industry Veterans from Silance, CarbonBlack and the NSA. Before of city and I was the VP of marketingand bed at domeline security. You may have heard of them. You minewas in the cloud security and compliance management space. The company was acquired bycheckpoint last year. It stuff. So you know, I do gets offfrom your introdiction as you come from a product marketing background, but it wasa very busy question. What exactly does a product market do in a BTob Tech Company? That's a great question. Or Alien. So that's right,I come from a BB product marketing background. I started my career asan engineer, then spend a few years and management consulting. When I returnedto an operational role, I it wasn't product marketing. So product marketing isa set of activities involved in bringing a product to market and ensuring its commercialsuccess, because I say come marcial, because that's very often the objective ofbuilding a new product. As you can imagine, you know, product marketing, the set of activities, is critical to a company success. Now,product marketing as a separate function or role in an organization is more recent.Right, this is the product marketer, and a product marketer is responsible fordeveloping and coordinating the execution of the go to market strategy for the company's product. Right. So what exactly does a product marketer really own? Product Marketerowns the go to market plan, right, just as a product manager, ownsthe product requirements document. Of the RD product marketer owns the go tomarket plan. So what does that mean? Product Marketer is responsible for doing awhole bunch of different things, identifying and articulating who the target customer is, the type of organizations, the roles and persona of the people involved inbuying and using the solution, and then understanding what their specific needs are.Right. So, figuring out what the buyers and users need and developing positioningand messaging for the product that helps the...

...target buyers understand how the product makestheir life better. Right EXA. This, in essence, is the messaging andpositioning. Product Marketer also defines how the company is going to reach thesetarget customers, right, so developing pricing and packaging, identifying the channels thatthe company is going to use and enabling sales channel teams to reach the customerand sell to them. Right out of product marketers role was also understanding thecomparative landscape in which the product exists. Right which solutions are likely to beseen as competitors or substitutes for the product, one good option being, you know, do it yourself or kind of homecooked solutions, also being able toarticulate what the benefits of your solution are versus others. Right now, productmarketers also act as evangelists and public spokes people in talking about the value propositionin the right way to different audiences, right, being analysts or the pressor customers. So they speak in executive briefing, stiled events, conferences,right in blogs, right in columns and so on. So, as youcan tell, some of these activities are tied to the process along bringing aproduct to market and they happen before the product is launched, right yeah,while others that tie to driving adoption of the product or service after launch.Okay, so product marketer owns the go to market or GDM plan. Nowit's important to realize that ownership does not mean that he or she does allthe tasks associated with executing the plan. Right, of product marketer is thequarterback for product commercialization. That means, you know, it might mean workingwith the executive team on positioning, working with sales and on enablement and channelstrategy and so on. Right, so that's a lot of teamwork involved here. So a big part of the role is coordinating and communicating so that everyoneis on the same page about this plan. Yeah, and what's the involvement ofproduct marketing with this sea CEO and the technique or that? We spokeabout free launge and first lounge and I would expect the first launch to beprobably a bit more a certain marketing relationship, marketing in the the commercial sense ofthe work. But twitch points would you increase the river of interaction witha technique quality, because it will be as a product marketing you need tobe closer to the technique or team and on Tho. Something exactly they innow is that it's not just about the customers and the aid of a message. is also probably sometimes about getting into the grass of things absolutely right,and the product marketer needs to have an intimate understanding of both the space andof the specific technologies of the company is building. So I think the involvementwith the CTEO and the product team starts early light from kind of creating theshared view of what the market looks like and the product that the company isbuilding to go after this market. Right. So the CTEO, the product managementteam and product marketing need to be on the same page about how theworld looks outside, what the specific problems are the customers have and what thecompany is building to save all those problems. Right. So that start early andpart of what the product marketing team does there is bring that outside inview. For the CTEOS and product management teaks are doing analysis of the market, understanding what the big trends are and essentially framing that in a way thatthe company can consume. Let mean that you've got to take to two typeof communication you've got. You've got to think about one vision and where productmarketer will be focusing on end user and how to communicate within user and creatingcontent for them. We Sitra, but but also the role of an internalcommunicator in between sales, marketing, products, technical and potentially pursers as well.You have tried. Yes, you nailed it. So big part ofthis is external communication. is how the company and product are perceived by theworld, and that is that is very often what people see as the roleof marketing or product marketing. But the flip side of this is just buildinginternal cohesion and a coordinating the efforts of the different team and making sure thateveryone understands, everyone has a consistent view...

...of what the outside world looks likeand what the company is building. Right. So the big part of what you'redoing is also communicating internally so that everyone's on the same page, right. And and this has to happen. It's an ongoing process because, youknow, plans change. You come up with product market and a hypothesis,product market for hypothesis, and then you need to kind of work with thatplan and everyone, as especially as the company grows, want to make surethat sales, marketing, product, cteos office are all aligned in terms of, you know, what it is the company selling, what is the marketlook like? What is the story that you want to be a telling customers, right, because consistency is key in this. So absolutely just as important. Yeah, you're to tell us some stories internally and Expialis, but buildingthe cultures were so probably a strong pillar of the culture. What would yousay are the main challenges of the role as so, I'm sure so wideopen question because it may depend on the type of company you are working forand everything. But if you are to send them up and in a fewsentences, what would you say the main changes of product marketers noways in intoday's markets? That is a great question, right I think one of the thingsthat product marketers have to realize, and company as all that realizes,that product marketing is a leverage function. What I mean by that is productmarketers own the goat market plan, but like product management, product manager,for example, figures out what the what the company should be building, thespecific set of features that customers need and will pay for. Product Manager ownsthe PRD and coordinates execution, but doesn't product manager actually build a product?Know, you have engineering for that. So similarly, a product marketing personis responsible for coordinating the execution of the Bato market plan, but this usuallyhappens through the efforts of other teams. So product marketer has to understand thattheir role is quarterbacking, but does not mean that they have to carry theball every time. Right. They have to basically work with sales, workwith marketing, work through product management to execute things right. And so it'sessentially a role that involved ownership, but not necessarily the authority to go anddo things right. It's a function that that work best through others in theorganization as well, and so understanding that just keep and essentially having its alsoa relatively new role, right, having a person who's responsibly for this.It's a relatively new thing in organizations. So very often there is not acommon view of what exactly product marketing should be doing right now. This issomething that that you see time and again, where the organizations typically look at productmarketing as the if the role is usually usually more narrowly defined. Right, in these companies, a product marketers essentially a content creator writing. Why? That was SIS. That's what they means that. That's why I wasleading with my questions. That's sometimes I think there is a confusion between contents. You know, even some things the generation, which I think he saidit's completely different ward, but the thing you you send me up in aperfect way. Yeah, so seeming product marketing role is very narrowly defined inthe sense that people think they're essentially content creators writing white papers. theyreciate revocationto go on and you can see white product marketing is associated with this,right, because sales and marketing teams need good content and it is a tactical, immediate need in many companies, and very often product marketers are the onlyfolks in the company that are tasked with creating product content. So the productmarketers of course need to have strong communication skills, both with them and Burbo. But if your company is seen product marketers purely as content creators, youare not using the function in a smart way. Right. A product marketerwhere's many, many hats, or product marketers a strategist? You or she'san evangelist and advisor to sales and marketing and in general, a business problemsolver, like six a person. So product marketers, the good ones,see themselves as business owners and will do any and everything needed to make theproduct commercial success. Right. And so...

...the CEO down have to look atthis function as this kind of broaduct role of problem solving and thought and productcommercialization rather than just content create yeah, that makes that makes perfect sense.So that's what you would say. The difference between a good product market toa great product marketer is actually someone we managed to get that that sort ofstrategy outlook on things rather than just going to do the details of the product. Yeah, so that is that's definitely a question I've thought about a lot, I think. I think that is one the starting point. Right,product marketers are essentially product owners. They have to think like function agnostic leadersand they essentially do what needs doing right, building bridges across the organization. ProblemSolving. So you work with sales and marketing to identify bottlenecks in thesales process and shorten them one by one. Right. That's product market is.Should be thinking it is where is, what is what is causing delays inthe sales process, what is causing limited success in terms of customers discoveringthe solution, and then go and solve that one by one. That iswhat a product market is should be thinking about. Now, the best productmarketers that I've seen can really get into the mind of the customer and understandtheir needs and pains and speak their language right, so they recognize that theirfunction really starts with the customers. Now, when you see that messaging is doneright, it really doesn't sound like marketing came up with it. Likevery often you hear a customers distances, we say that was just a bunchof marketing fluff. Yeah, I the problem with that is when there's adisconnect between how the product marketers speaks and communicates the value and what the customerssee the world as. Right, if a product marketer is grounded in theircustomers reality, they will be able to articulate what a product says and doesin a way that feels authentic and were right. Affest way to do this, I found, is to build a personal connection with customers, speak withcustomers in a regular basis, start kind of talking to them about their problems, so that you're not sitting in an ivory tower. There's one other thought, which is you know, you said product marketers have to be strategic.There is, I would say, product marketers need to have mental flexibility,right, the ability to zoom in, zoom out, gets super tactical andthink about specific collateral, specific content, specific programs that will help customers atdifferent points of a biased journey, but also zoom out and understand how thestrategic landscape is shifting. Right, for example, if a comparitor bought acompany, what does that mean for you? Right? How do analysts define thespace that you are in and how is that you evolving? So thereis this kind of mental acrobatics of, you know, one meeting you're sittingand talking about specific programs, collateral and so on. The very next meetingyou could be sitting and talking about, you know, where should the companybe headed? Most? More broadly, most of us the house, thespace evolving, right, what's happened to the competitive landscape and so on?Right, so this requires that you kind of keep a singer on the pulseof the industry, stay Internet with what's happening. What are you doing,what a competitors doing, what another is talking about? What the POT leaders? What the people that are kind of guiding and shaping customers buying decisions andidentifying patterns from your own industry, from the past, as well as fromother industries. Right, so this is the pattern matching is something that essentiallylike business wisdom, right, and you develop that, I experience and with, you know, enough reading and exposure to the to the world out there. Yeah, thanks, that makes perfect sense. So it's almost the questionof as an internel product marketer, you would almost benefits from having experience ofhaving been on and user at some point in your life too. Really onthose on that wall, because at the end of the day, if I'mif I'm transcripting, what will saying, what I appreciation you've got to makegenerality is because you need to market, so you need to to appeal tojust when individual but groups of individuals. But it's really about gets you onthe the skin of your end user, on, though, some doubt,challenges, as well as potentially madge that up with your competition and everything.So source on those, on the option that they've got is a tright thatis right. I mean you have to...

...really get under the skin off yourcustomers understand how they think about making the buying decision. Right, I mean, who are the first of all, how do they think about the space? Do they have the problems that we think you can solve for them?And being able to use the right I mean I've seen that if you usethe right terminology, if you speak about the problems using the words that theyassociate with, there is a much stronger connection between the message and the customers, right because they have to. These are terms that they use, theyindy out and they're describing their problems, are their challenges. So essentially,you need and the ability to Mary the problems in those in their terms andreally understand how big a problem it is for them. Right. Is itan urgent issue? Because, especially when you're talking about messaging in positioning fora start up, like one of the big things is you are starting witha set of hypothesis. You believe that you know the right messaging for thecustomer. But this is really where you know. You have to evolve themessaging very quickly based on the feedback you get, and the best way todo that, I found, is to think like the customer. And nowthis could mean that you spend some time as the end user, like forus it would be the sea sours organization, or you essentially spent enough time withthem that you learn through us, Moss, like you, internal lifethe messaging, and this is this, this comes with, you know,exposure and again, spending time in their shoes. Of course, of coursenot that. On the some completely and it seems to me that do,and I think you mentioned that on on the conversation. Do Rod is kindof new or the role is evolving. So can you take us through awhich you believe or what's your sound on the shifts of the role in thelast few years? I was thinking, for ex involving off and also whatI mean interesting on something from you is what you seing the road is going. The best is one single words, using the road is going. Wouldyou would you? Would you say that for the marketing should have a seatat the bulbs? That's a great question. Again, I think product marketing hashas evolved quite a bit in the time that I've been in product marketingand I've seen a couple of big shifts. Right. The first is the roleis starting earlier and earlier in the organization's life. Right. A bigquestion that start up CEO space is whom they should hire first in the marketingteam, and it used to be a no brain. It used to bethat the Manjine, manager or director who could start running events and campaigns quicklyfor the company. Right. But I'm starting to see product marketing managers anddirectors being brought in as the first marketing higher and I think this is happeningfor a number of reasons. The first one, like I said, youknow getting product markets fifth is critical for the company and very often, youknow, founders start with product market frint hypothesis, that you start with aset of belief that if you have a specific product and a specific message andpositioning, customers will buy it. But you need to feel test this hypothesisand quickly coos correct or messaging, positioning and so on and evolve the storybased on feedback. This is product marketers coo strength, right and one ofthe other big challenges or changes in marketing is that customers want to do theirresearch and get educated on a space and the different vendors before they start engagingwith companies for serious being. Right. Yeah, so let's less and lessof this kind of cold outreach and more and more of putting good content outthere, having a solid website, having consistent message that people wanting to learnmore about you can engage with. Right, and this is again something where productmarketers essentially can help you build that consistent voice of who you are sothat you can amplify your grand grand presents later. So again, you startwith a lot of marketing activities. You know, one thing that you knowas a wepy of marketing, I keep thinking about is at what point doI need to bring in a role internally versus using working with contractors and consultants? Right? In my experience, the function that I found hardest to outsourceis essentially product marketing, right, because it's so close to what the companyis about that you need to have someone in product marketing who can start buildingthat story. It is essentially defining the...

...identity of the company as seen fromoutside. Right now, the other big shift that I've seen as product marketingas an exact, leable function. Companies are hiring VPS and SV piece ofproduct marketing as opposed to a lower level function. Earlier it used to capout a direct or senior director, and then that rolled up into a VPof marketing or VP of product. Now you're starting to see product marketing havinghigher and higher level positions in the organization, even at the exact level, right. 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 roles as an evangelinary school, which astrategistill as an execution arm for go to market. Right. So I thinkthat is one big shift that has happened, which is understanding the full sense ofwhat product marketing needs. Now Product Marketing, of course, has twosister organizations or sister functions. One is product management, that they are technicalmarketing. Right. One thing that I have seen organizations, the good ones, do is actually offer rotations between these three, because a good product marketercan do the things that are required for product management and vice versa. Andnow this can be a controversial position. But if you do it right,you have product marketers who understand what it takes to build a product in allthe product management role as well as to get down into the technology and reallyexplain the technical details. So product technical product management, technical marketing and productmarketing have kind of a rotation function where a person can kind of go throughthose three different roles and, you know, essentially learned all the aspects of buildingand bringing a product to market. Okay, my best question is isit's again a maybe a wide of when one, but it's for your experience. Without what would be the the main advice you would gives to any productmarkets? Are Listening to our conversation today? Sure, so, get into themind of the customer. Never lose that touch with the customer, right, because the moment you do that, every other function that is depending onyou for kind of the Voice of the customer loses out right. So finda way to stay connected with the customer and keep it real, right.So you could customers on a regular basis and think about how they will engagewith the stuff that you put out there, right, be it programs, withanything else. And Product Marketer owns more than they are directly, youknow, found responsible for, in the sense that they have to think ofthemselves as business leaders, as function agnostic leaders, and do what needs doingright. That means working with sales, working with marketing, working with product, working with customer success, cross the board, working across all these todo what he's doing right. If, like you, see your role inthe sense that you're responsible for a lot of things, but it's not thatyou're going to actually go into all the things that you're responsible for. Youhave to work through people and with people to make it happen. Yeah,so true. It's true testament for four leadership skills. Very that getting gettingthanks dance for Asost or always a tough one. I agree. I thinkthat is that is really where the magic happens to the any and I agreewith your fair I think you're right. You know, you probably you probablyin a transition where where we see product marketing becoming more and more important.I think it's particularly coming pre dominant in els space, which say you aresecurity, because in that space you've got one more competition. So I thinkpeople, probably our company is probably a few years back, at less requirementto really on thud the Frenchiet ought really on those on the mind of theprospect and they could have thought to probably be successful without without really good gettinginto the brain of that perspect of that and users. And I think nicecompletely different. And I think really, I think the companies why quick withthe best product marketing team as well as the best sells seem and you know, as you said, all those function and that's independent from each other.I need to have people who can execute a wrong product marketing. But Ithink the companies why equipping themselves with a...

...strong product marketing team, probably creatingitself in the in a better position. And and also the rest commentary mainsthat, you know, through congustion, riving to them kind of kind ofthinking about some of the marketing leaders that we know and some of our clientsand and I do believe that most of the most of the the successful CMOSor the cell you'll seems, the people I can kind of pick up theright company and do the right things. I three the people want us onthe product very well and people are able to pitch the product that they couldpitch the product potentially to a technical person as well as a sea level person. You had play you to be the media drop. This is particularly tobe to be there. You know you're selling, especially be the big hightech where understanding the product is kind of critical to really understand how to communicateat the customer kind it's not just brand message. So yeah, now agreewith you. Well, I want you to thank you today so for foryour all your insights. Mean I really appreciate you to be the time,as discussion is supposed to be a we don't know if it's a that's surelythey all let the US at some of the some of some of our clansare walking bus going on the with because today, but not different bodies working. But I do appreciate you youtube the time to to come in today anddiscuss pet marketing with US and already and raid the conversation. Now, ifeveryone wants to follow up on the toptic today, discuss with you, fells, or even speak about Obsidian, which we were the best way to getin touch with you. Yeah, you can reach out to me on Linkedinon twitter. My handle on twitter is Sada Shrine Buston. You can alsoconnect with obsidy on twitter at Obsidian sect. That's one off. Well, again, many, many second for your time today's with that, it wasgreat to have under shore. Thanks for having me on the PODCAST. operaticshas redefined the meaning of revenue generation for technology companies worldwide. While the traditionalconcepts of building and managing inside sales teams inhouse has existed for many years,companies are struggling with a lack of focus, agility and scale required in today's fastand complex world of enterprise technology sales. See How operatics can help your companyaccelerate pipeline at operatics dotnet. You've been listening to BEDB revenue acceleration.To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favoritepodcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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