The Ins and Outs of Product Marketing with Drift's Aurelia Solomon

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This is a podcast episode titled, The Ins and Outs of Product Marketing with Drift's Aurelia Solomon. The summary for this episode is: <p>Contrary to popular belief, product marketing is <em>not </em>just about making decks. In this episode, Maggie sits down with Drift's Director of Product Marketing, Aurelia Solomon. Together, they talk through the ins and outs of a product marketing role, why storytelling is crucial to success, and how to build, and manage, a strong PM to PMM relationship. </p><p><br></p><p>Like this episode? Leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review, hit the subscribe button, and share the pod with your friends. You can also connect with Maggie and Aurelia on Twitter @maggiecrowley and @Aurelia90716528</p>

Maggie Crowley: What's up? Welcome to Build. This is Maggie. Today I have Aurelia Solomon on the show. She's a Director of Product Marketing here at Drift. She's been in product marketing and partnerships forever. She was in sales. She's also a fellow athlete. And she's someone that I personally have learned so much from as a coworker, and I'm so lucky that I get a chance to work with her. And today I finally get her to give me the rundown on product marketing. So we get into what it is, what good looks like, and why it's actually the key relationship for any product manager to have. I hope you enjoy it. Aurelia, welcome to the show.

Aurelia Solomon: Thank you, Maggie. Happy to be here.

Maggie Crowley: Yes, I am excited because this topic has been such a long time coming. It's one of the first questions I ever got that someone wanted me to do on the show, but I wanted to get more experience actually launching products so that I felt like I had at least something to say, and that's product marketing. So we're going to cover what it is, how it works in all of that, but where I want to start is I imagine that it's a little bit similar to product management and that you don't start off your career being like, I want to be in product marketing unless you did. But Aurelia, how did you get started? How did you find this path?

Aurelia Solomon: Yeah, no. It's a great question. I think everyone gets to it from a little bit of a different journey. So I started my career in sales and actually got into product marketing earlier than I would say most people. I think you might see typically folks doing five to six years worth of professional career, whether that's sales, finance, a lot of different maybe in marketing, just different roles and then finding their way to product marketing. So I started in sales and I loved the commercial side of the business. Actually bringing in revenue. I had a quota. Loved working with clients and customers.

Maggie Crowley: Really? I don't know that. That's awesome.

Aurelia Solomon: Yeah, probably where I made the most money. I had to stick to sales and I loved it, but I really want to do more of that commercial side and even bigger picture. I lived in New York at the time, was looking to move to Boston and that's how I stumbled into product marketing. I had never heard of it before. I met this woman who now would become my boss twice after that, and she told me what product marketing is and how you get to work with customers and sales and think about how do you message and position these products to really commercialize them, bring them to market. How do you understand the competitive landscape and price and package them? And it all sounded really great, and I guess I asked the right questions. And so that's how I landed my first role at a very right entry level position into product marketing. And the thing I live by that my boss had at the time told me is, know enough to be dangerous and that's always what I think about for product marketers is you're never going to demo like the product manager or the SC but you should understand the product and be able to demo it to a prospect. You should understand and sound intelligent, wherever, whoever you're talking to, and so that's the rule of thumb that I've lived by.

Maggie Crowley: Yeah. I love that because it's so similar to what we, as a product manager, we talk about when we're thinking about working with the stakeholders that we work with most often, which is design and engineering most typically, and even with you. It's like we have to know enough about your role to have a conversation that's meaningful versus not knowing anything and not being able to work together. Okay. So then I would imagine that people also have a different opinion on what product marketing is only because the other day I had a person who actually listens to this show, call me up and he was like, " Maggie, I don't know how to organize product management because we have this problem where the PMs doing all this work and then they have to do the website and then they're doing this." And I was like, " You are literally going point by point through what I think a product marketer does." He had no idea. I think he was in the camp of product marketing is like just doing decks maybe, which is what maybe we'll talk about. So in your opinion, on your experience, what is product marketing and, what are the basics of it? What do you guys do and how are you measured?

Aurelia Solomon: Yeah. Great question. This is one I get all the time and is very different at every single company. I would say, but for folks who have been doing probably marketing and understand it. I think there's really a very simple way to think about it in that we are the voice of the customer. Product marketing takes that outside in mentality, understanding what is going on in the market with our competitors, with trends, right? With buyers and consumers and what our customers and prospects thinking. What are the challenges they're facing? What are some of their goals? How do they talk, right? What's the language they use. And so having that perspective, always and staying close to that allows us product marketing to really have this point of view on what's most important for the business in terms of what are the products? We should be helping product, you focus a roadmap on and invest in because those ones are really going to move the needle for our customers. Those are ones that are going to build a competitive moat against obviously our competitors. I think if you think about measurement there are two key metrics for me for product marketing. It's hard because a lot of the work we do is qualitative, right? Like you're helping on messaging and how do you really say, " Oh, this messaging helped us win these deals." Even if you're involved in it and you help the rep or the competitive positioning helped win that competitive deal, it's still hard, but there's two I think we attached to. One is win rate and the second is adoption. And so that's really where I think with PM and product marketing. Our job is to commercialize all the awesome products that you build. And if customers aren't adopting it, aren't using it and sales isn't selling it, and so new customers aren't adopting it, then in my opinion, we failed in PMM in terms of commercializing that. And so both win rate and adoption influence revenue. So if you bubble it up to the big business impact will tie to revenue.

Maggie Crowley: Before you get into the details, I think it's really interesting the way that you speak about that is so similar to the way we talk about products in general, because I think a PM would say, " Oh, we're the voice of the customer." But what's interesting and what I'm starting to learn over the years is that we are the voice of a specific customer solving a specific problem, but you're bringing that outside of that problems that individual PM cares about, you're looking at the whole customer and their whole business and what they care about overall. And I think that's what I didn't understand in the beginning, because I think if you told me that five years ago, I would have been like, " Who needs product marketing? Like, I already know the voice of the customer." But now I understand like, " Yes, I'm building workflows and we have these things, but without your perspective, that workflow might not make sense to the customer."

Aurelia Solomon: Yeah. That's a great point. I think when you think about voice of the customer, there's so many different personas. And I think the best PMs that I've worked with and obviously working with you and your teams are understanding the user that you're building that feature for. Who is going to be using it? Obviously, you need to understand at the higher level to the executive level, what's the value to them that they would buy it, but there's the actual user of the feature and the workflow. And that's something I think PM's are super close to and from product marketing, we need to understand that too because those are folks that we're speaking with, but also understand how do you sell it? Because the admin, or the VP of ops might be using it, but it's the CRO or something who has the budget to sign off on it. They're the economic buyer. And so it's understanding how do we take the message and really tailor it for each of those different personas and be able to bring that back to you guys too. Of like, here is something that we know our products that are really interesting to these different types of personas that maybe we haven't been looking at.

Maggie Crowley: Yeah. Okay. So then what are the details of the activities that you guys are doing?

Aurelia Solomon: I like to think about product marketing as sitting at the hub of a few key teams, one being marketing, product, sales and CS. And then you have execs there because a lot of the work we do influences them. So they're this side and that side inaudible

Maggie Crowley: We'll see if we get into this one. Yeah. The subtext of this conversation is that I don't think I'm doing a very good job at all, and I'm trying to do better working with Aurelia, working with you. So it's just funny to have this conversation and be like, " Okay, great. I want to try to do better."

Aurelia Solomon: We're all learning. And product marketing is now done it at a few different companies, enterprise companies, and it's different everywhere and there's learning curve. And we're on the up and up, so it's good.

Maggie Crowley: Yeah. Okay. We'll table that one for later because I want to talk about our place in the org because I think it's interesting, but yeah. Keep going.

Aurelia Solomon: Yeah. Let me just start with marketing. Our role and we'll get into this, I know a little bit later where product marketing sits at Drift, we sit within marketing. And so it's funny to say, " Oh, how do we work with marketing?" But product marketing is really just very different team within the entire marketing department. And so our role is really providing them with that company and product level messaging and positioning that they can use for all the content. That type of top of funnel content, demand gen campaigns, website copy, just to name a few. With sales as a really key stakeholder is making sure that they're audible ready to talk about the value of Drift of our product. What do we do? How do we help you, Mr. Customer solve your problems and achieve your goals and how do we do it differently than all the other competitors that you're evaluating right now. And so that takes the form of enablement. Training and that's in partnership with a sales productivity and enablement team, but also thinking about the messaging and positioning of the products and how are they're different from competitors and that's how some of those trends that we need to understand of what's happening in the landscape really comes in into play. And then obviously that comes into content, right? Sales needs customer facing collateral, whether that's decks and one pagers and things like that to be able to articulate this value and show it. And that's where we'll get into a little bit later of why sometimes PMM is seen as debt creators. And my sister is best VP of go to market at a company called Criteo. And she's like now owns product marketing and she's like, " What do you do? I just think you make decks." And I was like, " No, that's not. Let me tell you."

Maggie Crowley: So like the content in those decks is so important. So yeah, I mean, there's definitely some decks and we make decks too, but...

Aurelia Solomon: Yeah. And I think that's the key actually that you just said, it's storytelling. Product marketers are storytellers. And how does storytelling take form it's typically in a deck. However, we can do it in a presentation. We could do it on a prospect or customer call. It's all about storytelling and so while it seems like a deck it's actually, what's the right narrative and story to put together tailored to you, Mr. Customer, like specific for that prospect based on their challenges and their unique situation. So that's a little bit of how I would say PMM is with marketing and sales and now with product, I think being the other major key stakeholder is really bringing those market insights that we talked about. The buyer feedback, the industry trends, the data of why we're winning and losing deals as part of a win loss analysis. The feature requests that come through from customers and prospects and the use cases and challenges that we're hearing to inform roadmap. And I think that's the key piece is like, PMs do a lot of research themselves talking with customers and understanding what's valuable to rebuild. And then what we're also bringing is like, well, these aren't customers yet, like prospects and what are we seeing in the market? How do we get ahead of what's already being requested and really work with you guys to inform a roadmap. And then that allows us to then bring that to you guys and then vice versa as you build these amazing products, our job is to commercialize those. And in a way, I like to explain it as one of my roles I was leading strategic product partnerships. And so I was actually finding partners for us to obviously partner with and/ or potentially acquire a couple. I met the most amazing CEOs of these companies who have built incredible products, but they hadn't taken off. They're still very small and it's because you can build the coolest thing ever, but it's all about commercializing it. That is what people ultimately need to buy it for it to take off. And so that's why I love my job. That's why I love product marketing because your team builds these incredible products that I'd have no idea how to build, and I get to do the fun part of like, " Okay, now let's go sell it." And like, let me tell everyone how to talk about this.

Maggie Crowley: I think I love it because to me, I have exactly the opposite view, which is like, " Man, that sounds really hard and challenging." And like, I would not be able to do it, but building, the thing, that's easy and I know how to do that part. Because I want to get into how the role is different, but I wanted to get quick detour to what good looks like because I think it's one thing to hear how you are operating with all those different teams in the abstract, but I think the on the ground reality, I would imagine, and at least I've seen from working with you is like, it depends so much on the teams and the people and the stakeholders and like how they operate. One of the biggest challenges I've seen is the timing of it all, and I feel like we've really struggled with how can I get more predictable for you? And then when's the right time for you guys to bring those insights back to us so that we can factor it in. And like that timing piece, I don't think I really appreciated how challenging that would be.

Aurelia Solomon: Yeah, no. As they say, timing is everything just for life, but it was very true in our role. And that's why I think the alignment between PMM and PM is so important. And that's why I think having a roadmap is so important. It's really more... Yes, it's used customer facing. Like you or me could talk and show a prospect. Here's what we're investing so that they understand where we're going from a non- sales perspective. And that obviously has a ton of value, but it's really about the internal alignment piece of knowing, " Okay, here are the big things that are coming that we're going to make a huge splash about." And here are these other really cool things that maybe aren't impacting everyone, but would impact a broad set of our customers that we want to make sure to drive awareness and enable the customer marketing team to be able to do some really fun customer activities around. So I think getting into to that, what good looks like for PMM is proactive. I would say a little bit of where we are at Drift right now is we are reactive and that just is a due to resource and bandwidth of just needing to, we're going to hypergrowth and we just need to grow the team. It's a really tough market for PMM right now because there's, I don't know, every company has, I guess, realize that product marketing is a full function and everyone's hiring product marketers, but yeah, I think it's being proactive and it's partnering with the product managers early. As early as possible on anything that we are building.

Maggie Crowley: Yeah. I think that hypergrowth thing is so real because it's one thing to say, " Okay, sit down and make a roadmap. Okay. I know where I'm going." Great. But then like it changes so quickly and I think the hard part is how do we keep everyone on the same page? How do I help you understand what we're learning and how we're thinking without like, you know. There was a meeting I was in the other day where it was like, how many spreadsheets do we have that's tracking the same thing slightly differently? it's not the kind of stuff that I think just explodes when you're growing really quick and everyone's trying to solve a set of problems. But I guess before we get too deep into the reality and the traps and things like that, you mentioned earlier that it's different at different companies. And so can you take me through the common ways that people do product marketing, just so that if other people's orgs are different, they can have a sense?

Aurelia Solomon: Yeah, absolutely. I would say the biggest impact is really what department product marketing sits in. And so I've sat in it both typically under product or it's under marketing. In my career, I've actually been both a couple of different times. And so when you're reporting up to what you've product officer, I would say the PMM function is a little bit more product driven, right? And you have probably better alignment from the get- go between PMM and PM because you're on the same team. When it sits under marketing reporting to a CMO, it's a bit more like commercial focused, much more with that sales side. And I really think regardless you need a healthy balance like product and sales are our two most important stakeholders and it should be 50/ 50, no matter what department you're under. But regardless of that, I think obviously that impacts a little bit of process, but to me there's some core pillars of product marketing. And the way I think about it is one of these pillars is market insights. And this is to inform roadmap as we've talked about as well as messaging and positioning. And so some of those pillars would be market research. What's our TAM and SAM? What's the addressable market? Influencer conversations, analyst relations, competitive, win- loss, voice of customer, having a customer advisory board, which is something Drift will be doing hopefully next year with the pandemic winding, hopefully down, TBD. So that's like taking all of that great knowledge of the market and using that across right to influence messaging and roadmap. Similar but I think it deserves its own pillars around product positioning. So this ties at the highest level our company positioning like who we are and what problems we solve, what value we deliver to bringing that down. So if you think about Drift. Our philosophy of being buyer first. We're all about using conversations to allow buyers to meet businesses on their terms anytime, anywhere, anyhow, any way they want, but then how do we do that? Like, that's cool. I think that excites me. Awesome. Okay. Well, how do you do that? Actually what is the... Okay. We have a revenue acceleration platform. Okay. Well, what is that? And what are the key things components of it, but without just listing features that to you and me might be cool because we know what they are, but our prospects are like, now what problem does it solve? So then it's taking those and aligning it to how this helps solve your problem. So under that, obviously there's roadmap, there's launches all of that. And then I think about go- to- market, which is a big pillar but it encompasses a lot of things that would be tied into a product launch, but also might not necessarily be... So it could be like a rebrand where you're doing a whole new name for Drift overall. But typically these are things like pricing and packaging, which as you and I know is quite complex and it is anywhere. Naming. How do you build a naming structure for a business so that every feature and product can scale as you grow and maintain this consistency. Partnerships. Channel or strategic referral, that type of thing. Working with demand gen and customer marketing on content. Thinking about segmentation. Who are those different verticals of customers we sell to whether it's healthcare or SaaS or financial services. Are they enterprise businesses or SMB? And then who are the personas? Is it sales, marketing, ops and then there's so many personas within that. And then demo. I think demo scripts and partnering with the solution consulting team and product team on building customer facing sales demos that showcase our product, but talking about it with value based language, opposed to features. And then the last big pillar I think is on sales and CS enablement and partner enablement, because again, you can build this awesome product. I can be like, " Here's the pricing. Here's its name, here's its messaging." But at the end of the day, if the folks who are selling it, which our partners are our CS and our sales teams don't understand it, don't know what to do and how to talk about it, then we won't sell it.

Maggie Crowley: Yeah. I think what I love about all of that is that at least in the world that I'm in, I think it's really common and I've been here before for people to think, " Well, if we build the greatest product ever, it's going to go viral, we're going to have word of mouth. It will be organic. We won't need to do all of this because it's just going to work so well." And maybe that works for the occasional company, but I would imagine even those companies have a really strong sense of all of these things, depending on what product they are. I think it's such a trap you can fall into as a product person to assume that just building a great product is going to work commercially when you haven't thought about this whole list of things and you haven't appreciated how challenging they are.

Aurelia Solomon: Yeah. You love the building of it, which to me, I'd be like, " I don't know what to do." But then if you think about it, that's so much time to build if you then also have to think about all these other things of how do you build it? And then you need to commercialize it. It's like you don't have time and that's where I think PMM plays that nice intersection of almost in a way of buffering sales from product. And I love salespeople, but I don't mean that in a negative way, but they're the loudest people, which is great. But they're going to have feedback and it's like, " If you're just getting that directly to the PM, that's hard." Then there's so much noise. Like where do you focus? It's like, " Oh, I heard this from a customer, but sales just asked me this and this." And it's like, we should be that suction of like, all right, here's what we're hearing. And then let's digest it in a way and share it out to the teams in a more digestible way.

Maggie Crowley: Yeah. I think what's interesting though is that you want to have that more representative understanding of what's going on because you're able to pull in all those different sources of information. But I also think like I would mentor PMs and for myself, like I need to be having that relationship with sales directly as well. And so I don't think it would be healthy for an org to have products and sales never speaks to each other because they only go through product marketing. But at the same time, I feel like the conversations where it's you and me and a sales director are more productive because then it's like, we're all bringing a different perspective and you see both sides even more than either sales or me.

Aurelia Solomon: Yeah, absolutely. And I think you nail on the head of her of what level? I think PMs versus leadership, it's certainly not like we all need to be aligned across the teams. And to your point, that those are the most successful is when it's PM, PMM and whoever like sales leader that we are working with or a GM or whatever the structure of the business is, that alignment. And that's actually how we structure PMM at Drift or where we got our team is having my team focused on a certain product line. So yours, for example, all the products you build for marketers and then a certain sales segment, whether that's mid- market or enterprise or growth so that they are aligned to that sales leader, and they are aligned to that product leader being yourself. And so they can really be that direct liaison across.

Maggie Crowley: So we're getting into this a little bit, but I want to talk about the traps and pitfalls and mistakes that people make. And you mentioned earlier, and this is something that we've talked about before that if you're not properly resourced, or if you fall behind a little bit, you start to get reactive. I think it's interesting because that's often how products can feel too. If maybe you're drowning in tech data or you're fixing bugs or this and that and then all of a sudden you feel like you're barely ever able to get ahead and you're always trying to catch up. And so take me through what that is and then what other traps people fall into.

Aurelia Solomon: Yeah, no. It's a great question. So I think it's very common when you're at a smaller team of PMM and PMM teams are, unless you get into a big enterprise business are never going to be massive. Maybe like 10 people. I've been at companies that are 6, 000 people where we had a 45- person PMM team but again, that comes with scaling. But I think one of the biggest pitfalls and I do this myself, which is something I'm working on, but is getting stretched a bit too thin and it's taking on a lot of work. I think we just talked about, of the role of PMM. I hate it sounds really like tooting my own horn to say it, but it's like these egg unicorn people who can work with product, but can work with sales and can work with execs and can liaise across all these different types of stakeholders and also be a good storyteller at the same time. And so typically they're overachievers who work really hard. And one of the pitfalls of that is you take on a lot and then you do everything like, okay. But not excellent. And so I think the key is to really prioritize what are the... It's not about the number of activities. It's what are the most impactful activities to move the business forward, to move the needle for the business and that's what you should be prioritizing. And that means you're going to have to say no to a lot of things. You're going to have to say no to the one- off one- pager requests that come in from sales. You're going to have to say no to the, " Oh, I have this feature that I want to do something with, with product, but I haven't heard about it." You have to do it and I think the key is doing it tactfully. So it's not like rude obviously, but here are the big things we know are going to move the business forward, and I think that's the best way to be successful when you're a small lean PMM team.

Maggie Crowley: Yeah. And I think the other piece, and we were talking about this earlier, is that you're working across all of those different teams within the business, but then where we sit in the hierarchy also means that we are right in between the executive team and the IC team. And so it's not just that you and I both working across the stakeholders that we have, but it's also like, and we have these other two groups of stakeholders. So it's this three dimensional list of stakeholders that you have to manage. I would say that the people who succeed in what I do and what you do have a lot of the same characteristics in terms of being able to manage all those personalities and saying, no, tactically is definitely a thing as PM is good at, or maybe not tactfully and just aggressively. And I also think that like, there's something to be said for just being able to stay positive. I think that's something I think a lot about with product is you have all these stakeholders, you have to say, no. You never have enough time. You have that list of different things that PMM does 100 things long. You have to figure out how to do that and not burn out and also to be relentlessly positive with the stakeholders that you have. Because part of what you're doing is selling which I imagine why you're probably so good at this role, as soon as you have experience doing that. And like, how do you think about keeping that optimism going?

Aurelia Solomon: Yeah. That's a great question, and I think on selling, you're always selling. Everyone's always selling. I mean, that's the way I think about it. Even internally, if you're trying to sell a product that you want to build and you need to sell it up to Leo or to Elias and it's obviously a different motion. And so I think that's spot on and I do think the positivity is so important because the way you express yourself and to others has a big impact, right? Especially on how cross- functional product marketing role in particular is as well as PM. If you have a negative attitude on things, that comes across and that's actually not going to help you influence, which is one of the most important jobs of the role. So I think for me, and I certainly been in the burnout. I mean, I was the only PMM at Drift for a while and I-

Maggie Crowley: And we all learned how valuable PMM is and how much we appreciate you.

Aurelia Solomon: But I definitely burned myself out in it but it's hard because you feel like you're failing. And this is something I talk about. I just know all the things we should be doing and can be doing in PMM. I was having this conversation with Elias and he was like, " Aurelia, you're just one person. We know you can't do everything." And I'm like, " I know, but there's so much Elias that we're not doing that is best in class product marketing. And I know what that is and I know Drift needs it." And so I think for me was learning to say, " Okay, Aurelia, you're not failing. You're one person, you can't do everything. And what I learned I could've done better is articulate, here are all the things I'm not going to do because I can't and this is the impact of the risk to the business and not having that, which actually might've helped get maybe more headcount faster and maybe not. But I think that's a learning I've taken is like by sometimes taking on too much and trying to do people actually just keep letting you do that opposed to letting you build out, helping build out. Realizing it's too much. So for me, it was really focusing on, " Okay, I feel like I'm failing, but I'm not. Here are the things that can really drive the needle and impact. And instead of doing 10 things, I'm going to do five things and do them really well. And I'm going to break in the things that I like, that make me happy. To your point about happiness, there's people at Drift I love to work with. You're one of those people and it's like, " Okay, I'm going to find some of those people and I'm just going to spend some time with them." Because everyone has days at work that aren't great and you have to remember that it's a point in time and what's the part of my job I love the most is like working with sales and helping close deals, is finding awesome products to launch, is certain people. It's like the little things to celebrate and keep that positivity.

Maggie Crowley: Yeah. I totally agree. I think it's also, as you grow in leadership, you move away from some of the things that you love doing in the first place that got you into the role. Imagine there are some activities that an IC PMM would do that you love doing and there's definitely things that I miss about being in product or being an individual contributor PM that every once in a while I get a chance to do. And I'm like, " Yes, let me get in here. Let me look at this design." And I'm sure the PMs are like, " This is super annoying. Please stop." But I'm sure there's also those things that you do.

Aurelia Solomon: Yeah, exactly. It's bringing you back to... It's like childhood, as a kid. What are the things that you loved? We both played that sports competitively. And so it's like thinking back to the... There's times that that suck. I can't get around it, but there's a love. There's a reason you do that, and it's the same thing for the profession I think about is like, I thought about do I still want to do product at one point? Do I really want to do product marketing or do I want to go back into sales? Are there other things? and I really thought about and realized like, " I love what product marketing is and what we can do." And so I remind myself of that. Of it takes time sometimes to get to that place, but everything starts somewhere. I wasn't a great soccer player and I worked really hard and eventually got there. And same thing with the job.

Maggie Crowley: Yeah, absolutely. Okay. So then I want to get your advice. So the relationship between PM and PMM is especially in B2B extremely important. And I think PMs typically don't have enough of an appreciation for how important your team is for our products to be successful and I feel like if PMs better understood that, they would be knocking down your door, trying to figure out how to work more effectively with you. What do you think is good for that relationship? And like, what's your advice for PMs in approaching PMM and like how to be a good partner.

Yeah. Super closely. Work together a lot and early. It's as early as possible from a PM perspective when you're writing the epic. Like you're going to be building something like pulling PMM. We're not going to be doing stuff yet, but it allows the product marketer to start to learn the product. Why you're building it. Who is it for? What problem is it solving? So that, to my earlier point of know enough to be dangerous, we then can answer questions and start to really formulate, what's the story we want to tell to market about this and also plan because there's all these other teams. Like to do a big launch, I mean, I'm coordinating it, but I have my customer marketing team, my demand gen, my web team, my creative team. There's so many teams who are involved in making that successful. So when you think about launches, it's like aligning early and often. I think a key piece of that is the product development process which is something that talking about roles and responsibilities, product management owns that. Anything before a product is generally available. It's owned by product. So I think having a clear process of moving from whether it's an alpha, to a beta, to GA with gates, like how are we kicking out? What are the goals of alpha? How do we know we've successfully achieved those and now can move to beta where we expand it to more customers. What do we need to learn and test and reach in beta to say, " Okay, it's generally available or minimum MVP." We don't do that at Drift, but like minimum product that a lot of orgs to do. And so I think it's having that process and then partnering, as I said early. So like before alpha even starts the product marketer's brought in to know, " Okay, here's what we're going to start to do." And we can bake into partner together to think about what's the right time to do a big market launch, to train our teams because that's the piece I would add. Is like, I think sometimes we don't realize how much time it takes our internal teams to really learn these things. Because like you know the product well, I'll know it really well, but they have one million other things that they're trying to do. And we all know sales is hard enough just as it is and so how do we give them the time to learn it, absorb it.

Maggie Crowley: Yeah. One of the things that we did recently that I don't know if we've had enough cycles for it to show up in your life consistently is that we took this advice to heart and we changed our process and our one pager specifically adding in steps to make sure that everyone was talking to go to market and specifically product marketing earlier when it's just in the... When you're even thinking as a PM, when you're in the what vague set of problems am I thinking about solving and the second you start writing one of those on paper, go talk to product marketing and put it on their radar so that they can start thinking too. Because I think that seeing that is one thing, but how do you make it happen at a company is obviously a very different thing. And so we've been experimenting with ways to try to push that behavior.

Aurelia Solomon: Yeah. And it's been great. We saw that with our launch of the SalesLoft partnership most recently, and being able to really build that and build that muscle. And one thing that when you guys are writing that, you might be geeking out on it, but we are too. It's product marketing. It's not just marketing. The product is in the name for a reason. And it's because we also love the product and we got over it too. I know this week we were doing design sprints and I couldn't make any of them because of just priority to our point earlier.

Maggie Crowley: Other things that I'm doing as part of your life.

Aurelia Solomon: But I wanted to. I was like, " Oh, I'm so bummed I'm missing this because I love design sprints." It's so fun. And so that's-

Maggie Crowley: And I think also, the thing I think about with the PMs is like, if someone's going to you and you don't care about it. To me, that's a signal I want to get very early is okay, we're really hyped to get this idea. We're thinking about solving this problem. And then you go to you, maybe if I'm looking for someone to like really invalidate my ideas, I might go to Chris over in sales. And then if both of you guys are like, " Cool, but what about this other problem?" Then I know either I'm not explaining myself well, or this is probably not a thing that has legs. That's a feedback that you want to get very early. So it's not just it, it's like help you do your job. It's also to help us do our job.

Aurelia Solomon: Yeah, exactly.

Maggie Crowley: Okay. So then if I'm curious about the role or want to get smarter, what are some resources that you would suggest for people to read or listen to, to get a little bit more into this role of product marketing?

Aurelia Solomon: Yeah. A number of things. So one is just feel free to reach out to product marketers. I get this a lot people reaching out to me on LinkedIn just various sources of like, " Hey, I'm a PM. I'm trying to get into product marketing or I'm in content marketing. I'm trying to get a product marketing. How do I do it?" Advice on the role. So just leverage network is a big thing and I would say while there's a lot of product marketers, it's also a tight community because it's like a role that companies are now just starting to understand. And so PMMs are always willing to talk to others about it. But there are some other really great resources. So there's the Product Marketing Alliance. They are an organization you can join, subscribe for free and get a lot of awesome content. They have what product marketing is, how to work with PMM, the relationship between PM and PMM. They have templates for customer facing presentations for roadmap, those types of things. So really great part and you can also pay to get even more, but there's so much for free. SiriusDecisions is also another one that I love. They do again, a lot about product marketing. The overlap with PM, they have a great roles and responsibility slide. I'll share with you, but just shows in different colors. There's overlaps between PM and PMM. Like some stuff we both do and then some you guys do and we own, and it's a really great visual way to see the key responsibilities. Yeah. I mean, I think there's some good. I've done some talks at Harvard, HBS, there's different things here and there of PMs and PMM in those roles. So if you can do a little Google searching too, I think, a lot comes up. But yeah, typically I would just say those two and talk to a product marketer and a PM and vice versa.

Maggie Crowley: I love that. Yeah. People assume that people aren't going to respond when you reach out to them. And I think a lot of times there's people who are available and are happy to talk about the thing that they do because I love doing it. So, yeah, I second that. Every once in a while I get someone reaching out with an interesting question, like the guy who reached out thinking that his PMs don't have time to do half their job. And I was like, that's because it's an entirely different part of the org.

Aurelia Solomon: Yeah. And people will not respond. That's just part of it, right? The rejection, but the way I look at it is like, it never hurts. That you have nothing to lose in reaching out to ask.

Maggie Crowley: Yeah. Absolutely. Well, Aurelia, thank you so much for coming on the show and walking me through this and hopefully you'll see it show up in my work with you. That I'll be a little bit better and maybe the roadmap won't change so much.

Aurelia Solomon: Thank you so much for having me Maggie. I was so excited when you asked me and I love working with you, so thank you.

Maggie Crowley: Awesome. Thank you.


Contrary to popular belief, product marketing is not just about making decks. In this episode, Maggie sits down with Drift's Director of Product Marketing, Aurelia Solomon. Together, they talk through the ins and outs of a product marketing role, why storytelling is crucial to success, and how to build, and manage, a strong PM to PMM relationship.

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