Before I met the next person in the series, I was facing some of the most challenging product management opportunities in my career – a new product, a legacy market and a bunch of customers who needed a little love and David put it into perspective quickly – “Jon sounds like you’re a project manager and not a product manager.” David Daniels was right, I took his advice and put it to work in a practical way, like many organizations product management needed to be redefined under the management at the time.
David now works at Pragmatic Marketing, where I took my first course on how to improve the definition of a product manager with Steve Johnson. I appreciate David taking his time out of his travels to participate in the Marketing IS in the Middle initiative here.
What marketing roles have you had and in what markets?
- Product Manager (enterprise software)
- Product Marketing Manager (enterprise software)
- VP Product Marketing (enterprise software)
- VP Marketing (enterprise software)
When you look at your career in marketing, what discipline/component have you found most interesting/challenging?
Product marketing was one of the most interesting and challenging roles in my career. It was the first time I was really forced to think about markets of buyers rather than users. Prior to that my focus was on users of products for which I was a product manager. In the role of product marketing manager my thinking shift from using criteria to buying criteria, and that shift was a significant one.
What do you feel the most important component of a successful marketing gig? (Product, Brand, Positioning)
Hands down the most important component of a successful marketing gig is to be the experts on your buyers: who they are, the different types, their buying criteria and the buying process. Everything else you do in marketing becomes a whole lot easier.
Since you selected something I wouldn’t have listed, how has this contributed to revenue?
Becoming the expert on buyers ties directly to revenue outcomes that are more easily discussed with Sales and the management team. Talking to customers (those that have already bought) rarely give you insight into how to sell more stuff.
What experiences brought you to this conclusion?
People start out being buyers and become customers after they buy. By focusing on who buys and why they buy it becomes much easier (sometimes trivial) to develop a position and message that resonates with the people who have budget to spend. Focusing on features drags you down into the weeds and encourages discussion that is more appropriate after the purchase.
If you could design the perfect corporate environment for a marketer to be successful what would that be?
A couple of things come to mind. First, the head of Marketing should a peer of the head of Sales. To make that work, the head of Marketing needs to be focused on markets of buyers and stop talking about promotional activities. Second, the effectiveness of Marketing should never be measured on the number of leads generated. It’s a useless and stupid measurement that doesn’t align with the real goal – revenue. Third, Sales is not Marketing’s customer. The sales team is an audience that Marketing needs to influence in order to achieve a revenue outcome. Finally, put a firewall between Sales and Marketing. Too many Sales organizations use Marketing in a sales support role, resulting in Marketing resources being spent in Sales not on important Marketing initiatives. I define “sales support” as helping one sales guy one deal. If management understood the real cost of Sales resources they would be stunned. The old saying “everyone’s in Sales” is a load of crap.
How far is this from reality?