Browsing Tag

product marketing

Marketing is in the Middle: John Peltier

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 @ 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.


Twitter: johnpeltier


Thanks for taking the time to provide your feedback on where you see marketing today John!

Marketing is in the Middle: Chris Cummings

The fourth interview for Marketing is in the Middle is with Chris Cummings.  I’ve been reading his blog for quite a while – Product Management Meets Pop culture.  Not only does he have a cool blog, he’s got an interesting gig as the Director of Product Management of Games and stuff at Lycos’ Gamesville.      Chris provides clarity with every post by trying to look at the product marketing and management delima through a pop culture lens – movies, comics, and other pop culture ephemera.  Not only does it resonate with a gaming, tv watching and comic liking geek – it provides everyday examples which are easily digestible and fun.

I’m glad Chris was willing to share his take with y’all.  So here are his insights:

What marketing roles have you had and in what markets?

My first professional job was working in the marketing communications office of a college database company called CMG, which soon started spinning out different web-based startups. That was back in 1997. I’ve been in online ever since. The majority of my time has been in online games, and I’ve recently branched out into web publishing.

When you look at your career in marketing, what activities have you found most interesting/challenging?

The most interesting and challenging has been defining and explaining what it is, exactly, that I do. Over the years, more than one person (including multiple CEOs) have noted that: a) they’re not entirely sure how I do what I do but b) I always get the job done, and bring real value to the business.

On the one hand, that’s a big compliment. On the other, it made me a little nervous: I never wanted to be a magician or to live in a black box!

Based on your experience what activities do you think get the most return?

I’m really focused on digital, so I’d say making sure your website or app has customer-focused content and interactive features that speak to the needs of your customers or prospective customers is paramount. Part of that “interactivity” should be providing clear, and plentiful, ways for them to reach you. So many businesses still rely on the “Contact Us” or “About” page to drive leads, it’s mind-boggling. But then again, almost half of all small businesses don’t have a digital presence at all so there’s clearly plenty of room for improvement!

What do you feel is the most important component of a successful marketing gig?

Understanding the problems of the market you’re focusing on. If you don’t get that, then you basically just have a really cool tech demo and not a business. That applies to everything, even online games. What problems does solve? Part of it’s psychological, part of it’s pure advertising. Gamesville provides a place for people to come together, create community, and encourage each other playing games while also pulling together a valuable demographic that advertisers want to reach in an environment uniquely suited to getting their messages across.

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 think we’re seeing more strategic integration on the metrics that drive our businesses, and that’s helping everyone including the roles you mention… providing they’re doing a good job. Not everything is measurable online, but many key things are. Focusing on those key metrics helps everyone understand our joint success and failure, and you’re individual role in it.

If you could design the perfect corporate environment for a marketer to be successful what would that be?

If I was going to design the perfect corporate environment, we’d have a product organization that reports directly into the CEO along with the other C-level functions. The Chief Product Officer would be responsible for leading the product while working with the other members of the senior team to make sure finance tracks key metrics (not just costs!), that our marketing is effective, sales is selling, and engineering is making the magic happen. Team work among the senior team is critical, including productive conflict, but everyone needs to respect and understand who’s driving which parts of the business — and which “key drivers” are really key.

How far is this from reality?

I think we’re getting closer and closer to this every day. Thanks to web analytics, there’s so much information available — and anyone with the right credentials can see it, at any point, including the CEO. Step one was getting everyone to see the same data. Step two is getting everyone to agree on which metrics actually matter!


I think the Chief Product Officer (CPO) will definitely be an emerging role in the market as Chris suggests.   I also think that Chief Marketing Officers and CPO’s will need a key technology role to support them in the goal of improved processes and metrics.  Organizations are going to not only need to invest in developing products to be successful, but also leverage tools and content to drive efficiencies and increase ROI of marketing programs/investments.

Twitter: chriscumming01
Blog: Product Management Meets Pop Culture (

Get Insight from the Community of Marketers: ProductCamp Atlanta is on the schedule!

The 4th installment of PCAMPATL is on the schedule for February 19, 2011 at GTRI.  The last several events continue to validate that the community of technology leaders in Atlanta are committed to sharing best practices in Product Management, Product Marketing and development.  The last event was standing room only – let’s see if we can do that again!

While historically these are often seen at techno-centric events, they aren’t!  Product Camps are for anyone that markets, builds and lead groups who bring products to market.  Representation from B2B companies and Consumer product companies abound.  If you aren’t familiar with what a product camp is or if it’s for you, Paul Young has a great product camp overview on his blog which summarizes what product camps mean for the community/participants.

The event is free, so if you haven’t been to a product  camp make this one.  You can register here.

Not in Atlanta? provides the latest information on PCamps around the globe.   If there isn’t a Product Camp in your community why not start one?  Not sure how?  You can read up on best practices for gearing up a Product Camp in your city and there is even a starter kit available.

By the way, these events wouldn’t happen without volunteers, so when you sign up also help out because PCamp isn’t a spectator event, it’s about participation.  How do you volunteer?  The sign-up form asks you if you want to help or you can ping @jbrett on twitter.

Roles, Organizations and Change….

The role of product management and marketing typically different from one organization to another, which isn’t new per se, but it is a topic that continuously comes up in the in the industry.  Every role I’ve had, every new CMO I reported to and every company I worked for required something different, it’s just the reality.  The challenge for most of us to how to deal with different definitions of the role and the evolving expectations of product management over time.

Technology Association of Georgia’s Product Management group met this week to tackle this issue.   A panel of folks participated that provided some real insight into how to implement a strategic approach to product management and change organizations.    The panelist addressed “Selling Product Management to an Organization That Doesn’t Use It or Understand It”, here is the abstract from the event to provide more context:

While many companies have embraced product management as a key strategic role within their organization others are still unsure of the value that a product management team can bring. Many companies are building product management organizations but these groups are facing internal hurdles in establishing their place within the organization and becoming truly effective. This panel discussion will give you perspective on selling product management internally as well as strategies for addressing the challenges you will face building a team.

The panel included:

  • Cate Bowman, Director, Product Management, RelayHealth/McKesson
  • Eric Christ, Former President of Patient Placement Systems
  • Steve Ely, SVP Equifax

The discussion took three very different approaches to the challenge of successfully selling product management as the leaders of the business and sparked a good deal of discussion afterwards as well in halls.  I was lucky enough to have a camera with me, so I had some side conversations and interviewed some additional folks and edited in some of the high lights of the talk.    The whole panel discussion will be online as well for TAG members, but here are the cliff notes of the TAG PM panel and some additional interviews around the role of product management which might be of interest for folks outside of the southeast as well. Unfortunately the video from Cate was not clear, so I didn’t get any clips from her great drill-down on the importance of deliverables and ownership.

Thanks to everyone that spent some time chatting with me, the panel members and the TAG Product Management Society for putting on another insightful event for the local marketing community.

On another note…

A big thank you goes out to Tom Chmielewski, not for being in the video, but for all of his contributions to the product management and marketing community in Atlanta.  Tom helped develop/co-found the first PM group in ATL, the TAG Product Management Society.  Tom has also been active in numerous tech groups in Atlanta and most recently  helped drive the sponsor efforts for the latest Product Camp ATL.  He has been instrumental over the last decade + in Atlanta tech, but he’s leaving to do new stuff elsewhere.

Tom has landed a great gig out of state and will be taking his PM acumen on the road in the coming weeks.  I wish Tom the best of luck and the greatest success in his next gig.  Tom’s contributions have been big for Atlanta and I’m sure Tampa will soon benefit from having him in the community.  Cheers!