John Peltier is an interesting guy who I’ve just recently gotten to know better now that he is an Atlanta-ish resident which I am glad I have. I first met him via ProductCamp Austin, btw – the whole Austin crew is just a good group of folks and for a single city I think Austin might have more product marketing and product management bloggers per capita than anywhere. Second I think is Toronto maybe. Which reminds me, John blogs as well @ johnpeltier.com and is still active in Product Camps, now that he has moved to Atlanta he is actively engaged in helping the team make the 4th PCAMPATL a success as well.
John provides some interesting insights into the journey many technology marketing folks take which often starts in the tech side of the business in his responses. John is currently a product manager and product owner.
What marketing roles have you had and in what markets?
I’ve got a little inbound and a little outbound marketing. My primary outbound marketing experience was the year I spent as Marketing Lead for ProductCamp Austin. On the inbound side, I’ve spent three years in product management.
When you look at your career in marketing, what activities have you found most interesting/challenging?
As a technologist with a background in quality assurance and technical support, my biggest ramp-up was the business side of things — the interpersonal relationships and consensus building, as well as the financial analysis.
Based on your experience what activities do you think get the most return?
The biggest return comes from relationship building and understanding what products to build for the market and what the business constraints are. Validating which problems people are willing to pay to solve helps ensure financial justification, as well as a successful rollout and marketing campaign. So tools that allow engagement with a wider range of customers and prospects provide the raw input for the most important decisions faced by an organization.
What do you feel is the most important component of a successful marketing gig?
I am bordering on repeating myself here, but marketers can bring to market a wide range of situations, and developers can build a wide range of products. Marketer need to identify what is needed–what to sell, and what to build–is ultimately the determining factor of a good gig.
How have you seen organizations change in the last 3-5 years to better support the needs of product marketers, product managers and communications teams?
I’m a big proponent of agile development, because I see agile as a response by development teams to the reality that it’s extremely difficult to craft a winning solution out of nothing. Building things iteratively, and proactively obtaining feedback on each iteration, gives marketers the opportunity to change course well before the die is cast. This works best, naturally, when marketers actually bring in end users to see the product throughout the process.
If you could design the perfect corporate environment for a marketer to be successful what would that be?
Companies benefit when they provide the freedom and resources to allow innovation; over-emphasis of delivery dates to the detriment of building game-changing products leads to efficient followers. Further, companies whose leadership can unite disparate divisions around a unified purpose have an advantage over those whose leadership can’t. Product managers can’t necessarily create the former, but those who can provide a vision to help unify the company can improve the 2nd metric.
How far is this from reality?
Some large companies like Google dedicate resources to innovation and to pet projects, and others like Apple force themselves through many design concepts before picking the final one. Obviously exceptional companies, they illustrate ways to institutionalize the innovation that so many of us want.
So what’s next?
Product management is evolving and maturing as a discipline, which is helping illustrate to companies the clarity of vision that should exist for products brought to market. Product managers should strive to establish a minimum set of deliverables that can clearly convey the essence of a product, and should strive to ensure they can complete it convincingly before delivering a product to market. As just one example, last year I proposed a standard set of documentation that covers the problem(s) solved, buyers, users, value proposition, and the proposed workflow(s). My example is probably a bit heavy on the workflow side for a true agile implementation, but by going through a similar exercise in concept validation, a product manager can make the life of the marketer and the product marketer much much easier.
Thanks for taking the time to provide your feedback on where you see marketing today John!
Other Interviews from Marketing in the Middle
- Marketing is in the Middle: Marty Thompson
- Marketing is in the Middle: Mike Troiano
- Marketing is in the Middle: Jay Baer
- Get Insight from the Community of Marketers: ProductCamp Atlanta is on the schedule!
- Marketing is in the Middle: Chris Cummings
- Fab 5 Product Marketing Blogs (customerthink.com)