In-the-Trenches Interview with Tiffany Baker on Product Marketing
What Do Product Marketers Do?
The 2018 B2B Marketing Academy spotlight is on inspiring people. Why? Because there’s theory, and there’s practice. B2B Marketing co-founder Peg Miller and I find daily inspiration in the people who work in the trenches to bring marketing to life.
As a profession, marketers are finally getting more credit for their expertise in understanding human behaviors, data science, digital technologies, and orchestration of inputs to deliver tangible outputs. There are many unsung heroes of modern marketing, but it definitely includes product marketers.
What do product marketers do? Let’s find out from an in-the-trenches friend, Tiffany Baker. Tiffany has served brands from large entertainment and high tech companies to fiery startup brands. Among the many things I admire about Tiffany is that she’s solidly an advocate of her brands, and is dedicated to her product teams. Like all product marketers, she’s keen to help grow awareness and chase major market share. Tiffany also has the other winning trait of top marketers: adaptability. We have to grow and change with market trends, and help our product experts know why, what, and how. It’s about leading while serving. Without further ado, let’s meet her and learn how she does it.
Becoming a Product Marketer
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a Director of Solution Marketing at a private SaaS company headquartered in Denver, CO. I chose marketing as a career after working with a career coach named Grace Moniz at Pepperdine University. She introduced me to the Birkham Career Exploration Report. At the time, I was already working in strategic market research at The Walt Disney Company. The results of my report confirmed that marketing was a solid career choice, and a best fit with my natural strengths and interests.
Still, the one question in my mind was if working in market research was the right area for me. From the report, I learned that I was motivated not only by focusing on strategy, but also focusing on innovation, generating new ideas, and being creative. With that kind of career insight, I was able to pinpoint product and solution marketing in technology as a good fit.
I really enjoy the art and science of bringing new, innovative technology products and solutions to market. Primary research from focus groups fuels our creative problem-solving approach to defining the right message for prospects and customers. I also like delivering that message via video, webpages, or success briefs to tell the story of why our technology is unique and valuable.
I’ve also learned along the way that it’s great to have a blend of “big company” and “small company” experience. You can learn a lot of best practices about what it takes to stay on top as a market leader at Fortune 100 companies. At smaller companies, you can go behind the curtain and actively participate in every aspect of bringing a product to market because you wear more hats.
A Typical Day in the Life of a Product Marketer
What’s the best part of your job? What does a typical day look like for you?
The best part of my job is showing prospects and existing customers what’s magical and unique about my company’s products and solutions. I usually do this through creative problem solving to develop new ways to reach the market, including visuals and content.
My typical day involves working very closely with technical stakeholders such as product management and engineering on value props and positioning of a solution. It could also involve working with other teams such as PR, demand generation, copywriters, graphic designers, and legal. Together, we review and approve the market messaging and content before it goes out into the marketplace. Basically, I work with any group that has a stake in how the product gets to market.
When things get busy, how do you prioritize what’s important?
Prioritization is often a big challenge because my job requires a lot of cross-functional collaboration to get projects out the door. I oftentimes encounter competing priorities among different groups. My project timeline may not align with every group’s priorities. Luckily, marketing is very deadline-oriented. It keeps what’s most important front-and-center. That helps me clearly communicate when something is urgent versus when we have more time.
How Do You Measure Impact?
How do you know if your product marketing is working?
One of the key ways to understand if product marketing is working is to look at whether or not my company is moving up the scale in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for our product category. Other ways include marketplace surveys to gauge awareness, usage of product marketing assets by sales, customer NPS scores, product adoption of a new feature, and content views online. The most elusive one is new customer logos. The key challenges with winning new business are fierce market competition, and buyer reluctance to face the switching costs of deploying a new technology.
What marketing technology are you using for your job? Does it have a big impact on your work?
I’ve used a variety of marketing technologies, now and in previous roles. Everything from Marketo and Eloqua to Salesforce and Google Analytics. These tools are typically used to execute on marketing campaigns, and then to measure the success of those campaigns.
Keeping Up with the Latest Trends and Technology
What’s your favorite website or source for information on marketing trends?
I follow a lot of groups on LinkedIn such as B2B Technology Marketing Community. I also enjoy sitting down with a good book too. Right now, I’m reading Innovation by Design by Thomas Lockwood and Edgar Papke. It really captures why some organizations are more innovative than others.
What top 3 skills are must-haves for product marketers in today’s world?
- Strong communication skills. You must be able to collaborate successfully with cross-functional teams.
- A solid grasp of how to apply analytics so you can measure marketing effectiveness.
- Great writing skills so that you can tell a story creatively whether it’s in the form of a blog, a webpage, or a customer presentation.
What Causes Insomnia?
What keeps you up at night in the role?
Leads! Every product marketing job I have ever had boils down to getting leads. How many leads did product marketing bring in? From webinars and downloads of gated assets on a webpage—the question inevitably goes back to ‘how many quality leads did marketing generate last quarter to fill the sales pipeline.’
What lesson took you the longest to learn about marketing work?
The biggest lesson that I have learned is that it’s not just B2B or B2C marketing. It’s H2H marketing, Human to Human. Bryan Kramer captures this very well in his book of the same title. As marketers, he says that our challenge is to find, understand, and explain the complex in its most simplistic form. It’s a lesson I challenge myself to learn and relearn everyday as a marketer.