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AMA: Forethought Head of Product Marketing, Ryan Van Wagoner
on Developing Your Product Marketing Career
September 16 @ 10:00am PST

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Product Marketing With Ryan Van Wagoner, Head of Product Marketing at Forethought
Top Questions
What is your favorite product marketing interview question and the best answer you've heard?
Head of Product Marketing at Forethought
I'd have to go with this classic: "Describe your process for launching a new product." Why? A product launch is the quintessential act of product marketing. It places the product marketer as the orchestrator between product, sales, customer success, and core marketing. If you understand how to s...more
What did you wish you knew at the very beginning of your product marketing career as a Product Marketing Manager?
Head of Product Marketing at Forethought
Everything! But really...I was pretty clueless. I wish I knew how product marketing works with sales, customer success, product, and core marketing to be successful. I wish I knew to spend time asking questions and getting as much information as possible before starting a project. I wish I kne...more
How do you perform extensive competitive product research? I've been tasked with it but I'm missing the mark. This research is for the CEO and Product/Engineering teams who want to know how our tech stacks up in the market. Do you have any tips?
Head of Product Marketing at Forethought
My first recommendation would be to make sure you understand exactly what exactly your stakeholders are wanting to know (and why). Are they looking at making product decisions based on this information? Adjusting the pricing? Refining the messaging? Knowing the strategic goals behind the request ...more
What's a typical career path for a product marketing manager?
Head of Product Marketing at Forethought
Great question! Product marketing has been getting a lot of attention recently as a top career choice for anyone interested in marketing or strategy, but the truth is everyone's career path is different and product marketing may look different from one role or company to the next.  The product m...more
What's the best way to enter the product marketing field?
Head of Product Marketing at Forethought
Over the course of my career, I've seen incredible product marketers enter the field in all sorts of ways: - Pursuing an MBA and getting an internship at a large tech company - Getting sales experience and then moving into a sales-enablement-focused PMM role as an entry point to the field - St...more
What kinds of skill sets do you look for in Product Marketing Managers who are switching to a career in Product Marketing?
Head of Product Marketing at Forethought
The truth is, almost every product marketer I know switched to a career in product marketing from a different field (I came from Sales!). This is very rarely a career that people start out in right out of undergrad (but it does happen! Check out my good friend Lauren Hanson's post [https://medium...more
How does your product marketing team usually work with your product team?
Head of Product Marketing at Forethought
At Forethought, product marketing works very closely with the product teams to bring products to market. I hold regular check-ins with product marketing and the Head of Product, as well as separate check-ins with individual product managers. These check-ins enable us to: - Align on product strat...more
What is your advice for PMM to work well with Product and Sales?
Head of Product Marketing at Forethought
This is a fantastic question and often where PMMs either excel or fail. Product marketing is the glue between product, sales, customer success, and core marketing, and understanding how to align those four functions is the key to success. Start with listening. Talk with each stakeholder (in your...more
I'm a senior PMM and the first marketing hire at a product-led-growth B2B startup. Do you have any advice on building out the marketing team as the company grows?
Head of Product Marketing at Forethought
Be sure you understand and articulate *why* you're building out the team. We all want to grow the marketing team, but growing for the sake of growing can often cause more problems than it solves. To be effective at a small company with a small team, you need to grow strategically and focus on the...more
what's the difference between a product marketer and a snr product marketer - how to learn and develop strategy skills so you can set better goals and be strategic in your approach instead of just reacting to daily asks? Any book recommendations?
want to see how I can stand apart as a snr product marketing manager apart from just tenure at company.
Head of Product Marketing at Forethought
Generally as you become more senior in your product marketing career (or any career), your role will become more strategic and cross-functional. As you begin to show that you can not only work well in the trenches (create compelling messaging and content, etc.) but also come to the table with new...more
How can I effectively answer "tell me a time when you launched a new product/feature" if you are new to PMM and have never actually done that?
Head of Product Marketing at Forethought
What the interviewer really wants to know by asking this question is how you would handle a product launch, and you don't need direct experience to ace this question. You DO, however, need to do your homework and genuinely understand the launch process. I would highly recommend talking with seve...more