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 and marketing in their industry. Let's get into the show. Hi, welcome to be to be a revenue acceleration. My Name is opinion. With you and I'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 for coming on the PODCAST. To the appreciates its remember and day in lots of places in the world, so I appreciate you took the time to drive yourself into your fie to the podcast with us, and today we will be talking about the many hats of a product marketer. But before we get started, it would 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. We help organizations protect their staff and loud services from a count take over insider threat and some of the new thread tractors in the cloud. But we offered a fast platform, and a fast platform continuously monitors and analyzes access entitlements and activity in your cloud applications like sales force, g sweet box, drop box, etc. It collects the data, normalizes the data across the cut platforms and whiches 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 hygiene in the cloud. So as still, our solution is in a new space called 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 on your user as endpoint devices like mobile devices and laptops. I'm city and less security teams continuously monitor activity and detect, investigate and respond to security incidents in the cloud. So the company was founded by Industry Veterans from Silance, Carbon Black and the NSA. Before of city and I was the VP of marketing and bed at domeline security. You may have heard of them. You mine was in the cloud security and compliance management space. The company was acquired by checkpoint last year. It stuff. So you know, I do gets off from your introdiction as you come from a product marketing background, but it was a very busy question. What exactly does a product market do in a B Tob 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 as an engineer, then spend a few years and management consulting. When I returned to an operational role, I it wasn't product marketing. So product marketing is a set of activities involved in bringing a product to market and ensuring its commercial success, because I say come marcial, because that's very often the objective of building 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 for developing 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 Marketer owns the go to market plan, right, just as a product manager, owns the product requirements document. Of the RD product marketer owns the go to market plan. So what does that mean? Product Marketer is responsible for doing a whole bunch of different things, identifying and articulating who the target customer is, the type of organizations, the roles and persona of the people involved in buying and using the solution, and then understanding what their specific needs are. Right. So, figuring out what the buyers and users need and developing positioning and messaging for the product that helps the...

...target buyers understand how the product makes their life better. Right EXA. This, in essence, is the messaging and positioning. Product Marketer also defines how the company is going to reach these target customers, right, so developing pricing and packaging, identifying the channels that the company is going to use and enabling sales channel teams to reach the customer and sell to them. Right out of product marketers role was also understanding the comparative landscape in which the product exists. Right which solutions are likely to be seen as competitors or substitutes for the product, one good option being, you know, do it yourself or kind of homecooked solutions, also being able to articulate what the benefits of your solution are versus others. Right now, product marketers also act as evangelists and public spokes people in talking about the value proposition in the right way to different audiences, right, being analysts or the press or customers. So they speak in executive briefing, stiled events, conferences, right in blogs, right in columns and so on. So, as you can tell, some of these activities are tied to the process along bringing a product 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. Now it's important to realize that ownership does not mean that he or she does all the tasks associated with executing the plan. Right, of product marketer is the quarterback for product commercialization. That means, you know, it might mean working with the executive team on positioning, working with sales and on enablement and channel strategy 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 everyone is on the same page about this plan. Yeah, and what's the involvement of product marketing with this sea CEO and the technique or that? We spoke about free launge and first lounge and I would expect the first launch to be probably a bit more a certain marketing relationship, marketing in the the commercial sense of the work. But twitch points would you increase the river of interaction with a technique quality, because it will be as a product marketing you need to be closer to the technique or team and on Tho. Something exactly they in now 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 and of the specific technologies of the company is building. So I think the involvement with the CTEO and the product team starts early light from kind of creating the shared view of what the market looks like and the product that the company is building to go after this market. Right. So the CTEO, the product management team and product marketing need to be on the same page about how the world looks outside, what the specific problems are the customers have and what the company is building to save all those problems. Right. So that start early and part of what the product marketing team does there is bring that outside in view. 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 that the company can consume. Let mean that you've got to take to two type of communication you've got. You've got to think about one vision and where product marketer will be focusing on end user and how to communicate within user and creating content for them. We Sitra, but but also the role of an internal communicator in between sales, marketing, products, technical and potentially pursers as well. You have tried. Yes, you nailed it. So big part of this is external communication. is how the company and product are perceived by the world, and that is that is very often what people see as the role of marketing or product marketing. But the flip side of this is just building internal cohesion and a coordinating the efforts of the different team and making sure that everyone understands, everyone has a consistent view...

...of what the outside world looks like and what the company is building. Right. So the big part of what you're doing 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, you know, plans change. You come up with product market and a hypothesis, product market for hypothesis, and then you need to kind of work with that plan and everyone, as especially as the company grows, want to make sure that sales, marketing, product, cteos office are all aligned in terms of, you know, what it is the company selling, what is the market look 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 building the cultures were so probably a strong pillar of the culture. What would you say are the main challenges of the role as so, I'm sure so wide open question because it may depend on the type of company you are working for and everything. But if you are to send them up and in a few sentences, what would you say the main changes of product marketers noways in in today's markets? That is a great question, right I think one of the things that product marketers have to realize, and company as all that realizes, that product marketing is a leverage function. What I mean by that is product marketers own the goat market plan, but like product management, product manager, for example, figures out what the what the company should be building, the specific set of features that customers need and will pay for. Product Manager owns the PRD and coordinates execution, but doesn't product manager actually build a product? Know, you have engineering for that. So similarly, a product marketing person is responsible for coordinating the execution of the Bato market plan, but this usually happens through the efforts of other teams. So product marketer has to understand that their role is quarterbacking, but does not mean that they have to carry the ball every time. Right. They have to basically work with sales, work with marketing, work through product management to execute things right. And so it's essentially a role that involved ownership, but not necessarily the authority to go and do things right. It's a function that that work best through others in the organization as well, and so understanding that just keep and essentially having its also a 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 a common view of what exactly product marketing should be doing right now. This is something that that you see time and again, where the organizations typically look at product marketing 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 was leading 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 said it's completely different ward, but the thing you you send me up in a perfect way. Yeah, so seeming product marketing role is very narrowly defined in the sense that people think they're essentially content creators writing white papers. theyreciate revocation to 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 only folks in the company that are tasked with creating product content. So the product marketers 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, you are not using the function in a smart way. Right. A product marketer where's many, many hats, or product marketers a strategist? You or she's an evangelist and advisor to sales and marketing and in general, a business problem solver, like six a person. So product marketers, the good ones, see themselves as business owners and will do any and everything needed to make the product commercial success. Right. And so...

...the CEO down have to look at this function as this kind of broaduct role of problem solving and thought and product commercialization 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 to a great product marketer is actually someone we managed to get that that sort of strategy 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 leaders and they essentially do what needs doing right, building bridges across the organization. Problem Solving. So you work with sales and marketing to identify bottlenecks in the sales 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 in the sales process, what is causing limited success in terms of customers discovering the solution, and then go and solve that one by one. That is what a product market is should be thinking about. Now, the best product marketers that I've seen can really get into the mind of the customer and understand their needs and pains and speak their language right, so they recognize that their function really starts with the customers. Now, when you see that messaging is done right, it really doesn't sound like marketing came up with it. Like very often you hear a customers distances, we say that was just a bunch of marketing fluff. Yeah, I the problem with that is when there's a disconnect between how the product marketers speaks and communicates the value and what the customers see the world as. Right, if a product marketer is grounded in their customers reality, they will be able to articulate what a product says and does in a way that feels authentic and were right. Affest way to do this, I found, is to build a personal connection with customers, speak with customers 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 and think about specific collateral, specific content, specific programs that will help customers at different points of a biased journey, but also zoom out and understand how the strategic landscape is shifting. Right, for example, if a comparitor bought a company, what does that mean for you? Right? How do analysts define the space that you are in and how is that you evolving? So there is this kind of mental acrobatics of, you know, one meeting you're sitting and talking about specific programs, collateral 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, most of us the house, the space 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 pulse of 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 and identifying patterns from your own industry, from the past, as well as from other industries. Right, so this is the pattern matching is something that essentially like 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 question of as an internel product marketer, you would almost benefits from having experience of having been on and user at some point in your life too. Really on those on that wall, because at the end of the day, if I'm if I'm transcripting, what will saying, what I appreciation you've got to make generality is because you need to market, so you need to to appeal to just when individual but groups of individuals. But it's really about gets you on the 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 that is right. I mean you have to...

...really get under the skin off your customers 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 use the right terminology, if you speak about the problems using the words that they associate with, there is a much stronger connection between the message and the customers, right because they have to. These are terms that they use, they indy 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 and really understand how big a problem it is for them. Right. Is it an urgent issue? Because, especially when you're talking about messaging in positioning for a start up, like one of the big things is you are starting with a set of hypothesis. You believe that you know the right messaging for the customer. But this is really where you know. You have to evolve the messaging very quickly based on the feedback you get, and the best way to do that, I found, is to think like the customer. And now this could mean that you spend some time as the end user, like for us it would be the sea sours organization, or you essentially spent enough time with them that you learn through us, Moss, like you, internal life the messaging, and this is this, this comes with, you know, exposure and again, spending time in their shoes. Of course, of course not 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 kind of new or the role is evolving. So can you take us through a which you believe or what's your sound on the shifts of the role in the last few years? I was thinking, for ex involving off and also what I 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. Would you would you? Would you say that for the marketing should have a seat at the bulbs? That's a great question. Again, I think product marketing has has evolved quite a bit in the time that I've been in product marketing and I've seen a couple of big shifts. Right. The first is the role is starting earlier and earlier in the organization's life. Right. A big question that start up CEO space is whom they should hire first in the marketing team, and it used to be a no brain. It used to be that the Manjine, manager or director who could start running events and campaigns quickly for the company. Right. But I'm starting to see product marketing managers and directors being brought in as the first marketing higher and I think this is happening for a number of reasons. The first one, like I said, you know getting product markets fifth is critical for the company and very often, you know, founders start with product market frint hypothesis, that you start with a set of belief that if you have a specific product and a specific message and positioning, customers will buy it. But you need to feel test this hypothesis and quickly coos correct or messaging, positioning and so on and evolve the story based on feedback. This is product marketers coo strength, right and one of the other big challenges or changes in marketing is that customers want to do their research and get educated on a space and the different vendors before they start engaging with companies for serious being. Right. Yeah, so let's less and less of this kind of cold outreach and more and more of putting good content out there, having a solid website, having consistent message that people wanting to learn more about you can engage with. Right, and this is again something where product marketers essentially can help you build that consistent voice of who you are so that you can amplify your grand grand presents later. So again, you start with a lot of marketing activities. You know, one thing that you know as a wepy of marketing, I keep thinking about is at what point do I 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 outsource is essentially product marketing, right, because it's so close to what the company is about that you need to have someone in product marketing who can start building that story. It is essentially defining the...

...identity of the company as seen from outside. Right now, the other big shift that I've seen as product marketing as an exact, leable function. Companies are hiring VPS and SV piece of product marketing as opposed to a lower level function. Earlier it used to cap out a direct or senior director, and then that rolled up into a VP of marketing or VP of product. Now you're starting to see product marketing having higher and higher level positions in the organization, even at the exact level, right. Yeah, and this is again because product marketing is seen in the fullest sense of that way, which is, you know, understanding all the different pieces of product marketing, the roles as an evangelinary school, which a strategistill as an execution arm for go to market. Right. So I think that is one big shift that has happened, which is understanding the full sense of what product marketing needs. Now Product Marketing, of course, has two sister organizations or sister functions. One is product management, that they are technical marketing. Right. One thing that I have seen organizations, the good ones, do is actually offer rotations between these three, because a good product marketer can do the things that are required for product management and vice versa. And now 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 all the product management role as well as to get down into the technology and really explain the technical details. So product technical product management, technical marketing and product marketing have kind of a rotation function where a person can kind of go through those three different roles and, you know, essentially learned all the aspects of building and bringing a product to market. Okay, my best question is is it'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 product markets? Are Listening to our conversation today? Sure, so, get into the mind of the customer. Never lose that touch with the customer, right, because the moment you do that, every other function that is depending on you for kind of the Voice of the customer loses out right. So find a 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 engage with the stuff that you put out there, right, be it programs, with anything else. And Product Marketer owns more than they are directly, you know, found responsible for, in the sense that they have to think of themselves as business leaders, as function agnostic leaders, and do what needs doing right. That means working with sales, working with marketing, working with product, working with customer success, cross the board, working across all these to do what he's doing right. If, like you, see your role in the sense that you're responsible for a lot of things, but it's not that you're going to actually go into all the things that you're responsible for. You have 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 getting thanks dance for Asost or always a tough one. I agree. I think that is that is really where the magic happens to the any and I agree with your fair I think you're right. You know, you probably you probably in 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 are security, because in that space you've got one more competition. So I think people, probably our company is probably a few years back, at less requirement to really on thud the Frenchiet ought really on those on the mind of the prospect and they could have thought to probably be successful without without really good getting into the brain of that perspect of that and users. And I think nice completely different. And I think really, I think the companies why quick with the 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 I think the companies why equipping themselves with a...

...strong product marketing team, probably creating itself in the in a better position. And and also the rest commentary mains that, you know, through congustion, riving to them kind of kind of thinking about some of the marketing leaders that we know and some of our clients and and I do believe that most of the most of the the successful CMOS or the cell you'll seems, the people I can kind of pick up the right company and do the right things. I three the people want us on the product very well and people are able to pitch the product that they could pitch 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 to be to be there. You know you're selling, especially be the big high tech where understanding the product is kind of critical to really understand how to communicate at the customer kind it's not just brand message. So yeah, now agree with you. Well, I want you to thank you today so for for your 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 surely they all let the US at some of the some of some of our clans are 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 and discuss pet marketing with US and already and raid the conversation. Now, if everyone wants to follow up on the toptic today, discuss with you, fells, or even speak about Obsidian, which we were the best way to get in touch with you. Yeah, you can reach out to me on Linkedin on twitter. My handle on twitter is Sada Shrine Buston. You can also connect with obsidy on twitter at Obsidian sect. That's one off. Well, again, many, many second for your time today's with that, it was great to have under shore. Thanks for having me on the PODCAST. operatics has redefined the meaning of revenue generation for technology companies worldwide. While the traditional concepts 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 fast and complex world of enterprise technology sales. See How operatics can help your company accelerate 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 favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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