Define your goals and improve your data skills, four alumni product managers suggest.
- February 18, 2020
When product teams and product marketing teams collaborate, they create a better end result, said Jessica Peet, ’14, senior leader of product marketing at Amazon. But how can they best work together?
At the Tech Product Management and Product Marketing Management Workshop held during the past Autumn Quarter, Peet joined managers and product marketing managers from Facebook, Google, Groupon, and HERE Technologies to discuss their roles, as well as share how they’ve collaborated with other teams and how they helped create successful products.
The panel moderated by Art Middlebrooks, clinical professor of marketing and executive director of the James M. Kilts Center for Marketing, was hosted for current students by the Kilts Center in collaboration with the Full-Time Booth Technology Group. Here are four takeaways:
At Amazon, Peet said that the product marketing management teams bring the voice of the customer deeper into the consciousness of the product teams. “Everybody's responsible for understanding how their customers use and don’t use their products, but marketing is typically pulled back a little bit,” Peet said. This allows marketers to have fresher eyes, Peet said, which can help them solve nagging problems, such as why customers are tuning out or aren’t adopting the product.
Sarav Subramani, ’08, product strategy and innovation lead at Groupon, said that working with multiple teams requires taking into account perspectives from various stakeholders and using data generated from those discussions to build a plan forward. “The nature of learning from and working with multiple perspectives is fun because it’s extremely collaborative,” he said.
A product manager helps teams set goals, meet them, and make the best decisions they can, said Zimran Ahmed, ’03, a product manager at Facebook.
“What that means at any given period can change,” Ahmed said. “Maybe there’s a legal block you need to remove. Maybe you need to stack something up. Maybe you need to set up a partnership in a particular way. But fundamentally what you’re trying to do is define goals, set context, [and] help the team succeed.”
Eunice Kim, ’05, director of Google Play, said that one important context for product marketing managers is the product’s go-to-market plan, which they should be thinking about from day one. She said that products often fail if they’re taken to the wrong market or taken to the right market in the wrong way.
Product managers and product marketing managers must be comfortable with the data sources their companies use and they must instrument their products appropriately, Peet said. This will help them collect good data and make smart decisions.
Kim added a caveat: while you’re improving your data skills, improve your judgment too. Product teams always need to juggle quality, speed, and resources, so managers must be thoughtful about how data can help them become more efficient. She suggests asking questions such as: “What are things that you need to make decisions on now? What are things that you can let go?”
“I tell people the line through every stage in my career has been psychology,” Peet said. Every job has included some component of understanding human behavior, Peet said.
To better understand behavior, ask questions. Matt Preyss, ’14, a product marketing manager of autonomous driving and connected services at HERE Technologies, said that it’s important to ask good questions of both the product team and the customers.
To know the customer, Preyss said that product marketing managers should ask questions that pique customer interest. Dig deeper, he said, as the answers may help find problems that the product team can fix. On the product side, Preyss suggested asking the product team what they’re working on and the reasons they’ve prioritized certain features. Then, product marketing managers must balance that information with what they’ve learned from the customer to inform their own decisions.
Editor’s note: As of January 2020, Peet is now a director of PM at Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft.
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