Knowing how to identify your target audience and determine which products will meet their needs can be a challenge, one that product marketers must overcome if they want their company’s product to thrive in the marketplace. How do successful product marketers function both internally and externally to achieve this goal?
Marketers That Matter brought together Greg Powell, Senior Director of Small Business Marketing at Indeed, and Scott Engelman, Head of Product Marketing at Coursera, to discuss the role product marketers play within companies and the importance of connecting with colleagues across business functions.
Q: Both Indeed and Coursera are enterprise and consumer companies. How does that inform how you serve your different audiences?
Greg Powell: Indeed is a two-sided marketplace—we serve job seekers looking for new opportunities and employers looking to hire. We take a holistic approach to product marketing and how we empathize with our customers. You need to speak to each audience differently, bridge the gap between them, and show what benefits one side of the marketplace can benefit the other side. You also need to consider each audience’s needs, pains, and environments so you can deeply empathize with them and give contextually relevant messages.
Scott Engelman: We serve a diverse set of audiences, from a professional looking to switch careers to universities bringing their degrees online to a government trying to reskill their workforce for the future. We’re standardizing the way we learn about our audiences and how we understand their problems. We’re currently building a playbook on pursuing product-market fit – with the personas and problems as the basis and tying everything to the diversity of audiences we serve.
Q: How do you prioritize? If you have two big product marketing initiatives that need to happen, how do you approach that?
Greg Powell: We’re mission-driven—we help people get jobs. We always start with our core customer: the job seeker. If there’s an initiative sitting on the fence, we tip the scales in favor of the job seeker. We also examine the resources required versus potential business impact, as well as align our objectives to our key results to see which ones have the biggest impact. The philosophy at Indeed is that everything can be measured—everything that should be done has a measurable target.
Scott Engelman: We’re also a mission-driven company, and our value, “learner first,” guides our decisions. Our challenges around audiences relate to prioritization: who are we building for primarily? When we identify the learners we’re serving, we then decide where we’re putting our company resources and evaluate how well we’re delivering to that audience’s needs.
Q: Product marketing relies heavily on working with other internal teams. What are some keys to success in how you collaborate?
Greg Powell: The sign of a great product marketer is when they’ve developed deep relationships with the product managers. If you’re having difficulty partnering with them, focus on insights and data. Product managers often focus on existing customers rather than the potential marketplace. It’s important to deliver to existing customers, but you must balance that with the people in the marketplace who aren’t using your solution and build that perspective into the roadmap. What differentiates a product marketer is their depth of understanding of the landscape in which they operate.
Scott Engelman: Product marketing is extremely cross-functional. We’re intentional about the role and getting input. We share our work with the organization so they can see what we’re doing. We also create a map of our function partnerships and how they help us do our jobs. We’re intentional about which functions we work with, given how cross-functional the job can be.
Q: How do you measure success and use data to make decisions within product marketing?
Scott Engelman: In product marketing, we work with metrics that are shared, as well as metrics that are owned. I frame it as a stack. At the top, we’re attached to the business lines. This is a shared metric rather than a uniquely owned one since we don’t own all the dimensions of delivering against it. The second layer in the stack is product market fit metrics, which show the delivery of the product’s value. The third layer is more owned and relates to our launches and campaigns and the success metrics related to the products we’re marketing.
Greg Powell: Our product strategy team identified ten features that were highly correlated with retention. From that, we developed the “feature usage score” and organized our people around finding ways to grow that score. This can be feature improvements, working with the product and UX teams to change how a product functions or appears inside the product, or looking outside of the product to see how the features can be highlighted on our other channels. This feature usage score is our true north.
Q: What is the role of trust when you’re working with your constituents?
Scott Engelmann: The basis of working relationships is building connection and trust. There are lots of people skills associated with finding and maintaining partnerships. Within working teams, each product marketer needs to identify and create value in service of our company’s mission.
Greg Powell: We try to listen deeply. We have so many cross-functional partners, and each of those partners have their own goals. If we push our goals too aggressively, they won’t want to partner with us. So, we listen, have deep empathy, and identify where our goals overlap. We also try to do what is right for our customers and business, even if it’s not what’s best for product marketing, which also helps to build trust.
Q: As you wrapped up the year, what were your main focuses? How are you thinking about 2023?
Scott Engelmann: We’ve done a lot of planning, as 2022 felt a bit different given the changes in the macroeconomy. Product marketing takes functional cues from the priorities of the company. We are also continuing to advance and hone the function and consider how to serve the company and mission most effectively.
Greg Powell: We’re taking a more top-down approach based on what’s coming from the product team. We’re using narrative to push a strong message into the marketplace and weave the new launches and products into the narrative for 2023.
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Greg Powell, Senior Director of Small Business Marketing at Indeed: Greg Powell is known for accelerating growth and building talented, highly-engaged teams. He has innovated and grown businesses spanning from small business credit, full-service payroll, and salad dressing, by building strategies informed by insights and partnering with cross-functional leaders. Before his role at Indeed, he was the Head of Corporate Marketing at Fundbox, and before that, he was the Product Marketing Leader, Small Businesses at Intuit.
Scott Engelman, Head of Product Marketing at Coursera: Scott Engelman is an operator, business builder and marketing executive with 20+ years of experience driving growth and monetization for the world’s leading technology companies. He has experience with startups and global, scaled businesses including Coursera, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Yahoo! His focus throughout his career has been connecting people with technology products and brands that make a positive impact. He combines strategic business leadership with deep experience building and leading high performing marketing teams. He has worked in B2C and B2B businesses, with a heavy focus on growth stage.
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