Varun Krovvidi

AMA: Google Product Marketing Lead, Varun Krovvidi on Enterprise Product Marketing

June 20 @ 10:00AM PST
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Google Product Marketing Lead, Varun Krovvidi on Enterprise Product Marketing
Top Questions
How would you differentiate a mature enterprise product that is similar to competitive products?
We're struggling to find value added differentiators for one of our products that has been around for 20+ years, for which we've historically been recognized as a market leader. Currently we're losing ground because it's very similar to competitor offerings but at 2x the price. What approach would you recommend from product marketing perspective to to drive sales?
Varun Krovvidi
Varun Krovvidi
Google Product Marketing LeadJune 20
Great question. This is a traditional "positioning" problem most enterprises face with historically successful products. Before answering the question, for any behavior to change in such enterprises, all the cross functional stakeholders (product, sales, marketing, and engineering) need to recognize that the market has evolved (new competitors, alternatives, needs, or even customers) and the said product is not well positioned to be the leader forever. With that understanding, it is important to take a fresh look at the following: 1/ Who is the ideal customer "today"? If your product is still generating new revenue but the conversion rates are low, chances are there is a niche customer base now but our definitions are too broad for them. Historically your customers might have been early adopters, large enterprises seeking a comprehensive solution, or those valuing brand reputation. Today, they might have moved to 1/ Late majority who are risk-averse, 2/ niche sectors with specific needs, or 3/ decision makers who value different things. It is important to "redefine" them as specifically as possible 2/ What is the real "value" we provide? In this case, start asking the question without your product in mind. Focus on understanding, what is 1/ outcome your are providing, 2/ experience you are creating, or 3/ ecosystem you are neatly fitting into. There has to be at least 1 of them where "you are best in the world". It is really important to tie them to things your new ideal customer really cares about - security, effort, risk, scale etc., 3/ What are the true alternatives? We tend to think every competitor (or only our competitors) as an alternative. Sometimes it can be an intern with google sheets (in case of data visualization software). High performing sales people truly understand the alternatives. It is important to dig them out to not mark every lost deal as being lost to a competitor. This happens because product and marketing teams' competitor lists are longer than an actual prospect's. Often, strong differentiators get ignored because we can identify a competitor that has the capability. But what if that competitor is not showing up on a prospect's list for other reasons. 4/ How are they paying for your product? Overall the purchasing behavior is also gravitating towards value based pricing than long term subscription models. Sometimes it is worth rethinking the "way" the product is priced than the actual pricing itself. 5/ How are they purchasing your product? It is also important to evaluate the channels of GTM. Maybe the buying behaviors shifted from direct sales to channel partners. Or maybe a preferred mode is to integrate your product into a broader solution offering with other vendors. If none of these still work, the problem might be in product strategy itself and not positioning. Oftentimes I realized getting an external opinion (consultants like April Dunford) help make the process easier in a company than trying to change minds with legacy approach. Hope this helps.
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What should a new product marketing lead prioritize when 'inheriting' a new team?
Our PMM team has been a lean mean delivering machine. Now, due to organizational changes, I'm set to take the lead of our team. What do I need prioritize in a product marketing leadership role to ensure we continue delivering at the same pace, if not better. Can you recommend any resources that could help in the transition from IC to leadership?
Varun Krovvidi
Varun Krovvidi
Google Product Marketing LeadJune 20
Congratulations on your new leadership role! Majority of your success in transitioning from IC to a leader is driven by how quickly you can fundamentally shift your mindset and approach. Here are a couple of pointers that can help. 1/ Go from being a "doer" to an "enabler": Let go of the need to do everything yourself. Most importantly, don't evaluate your team based on "how you would have done this". Trust your team's capabilities and empower them to take ownership. Shift from focusing on your own performance to helping others develop their skills and reach their full potential. Create an environment of "psychological safety" where team members feel comfortable sharing ideas, challenging assumptions, and working together towards shared goals. 2/ You are not an "expert". You should be a "visionary": Move beyond the day-to-day tasks and focus on the broader strategic direction of the team and its alignment with company goals. Inspire others by painting a compelling vision of the future and communicate it in a way that motivates and excites your team. Focus more on your decision making where you balance the needs of the team and the company. Consider the long term implication of your choices for both your team and the company -- this is the hardest part. 3/ Understand your team: Spend your initial weeks getting to know your team members individually and collectively. Observe their work styles, strengths, areas for growth, and how they interact with each other. Understand their motivations and how they contribute to the team's success. Gauge the team's overall morale, communication patterns, and decision-making processes. Identify any potential areas of friction or improvement. 4/ Build trust: Be clear about your expectations and goals. Involve the team in decision-making and solicit their input on key initiatives. Show that you value their expertise and opinions. Give team members the autonomy to own their projects and take calculated risks. Celebrate successes, both big and small. Acknowledge individual contributions and foster a culture of appreciation. 5/ Be a coach and a mentor: There is pure joy in helping someone on your team succeed. Help team members identify their career aspirations and create individual development plans. Provide opportunities for team members to enhance their skills and knowledge. Offer mentorship, coaching, and access to relevant resources. 6/ It's ok to not have the answers: Acknowledge that you don't have all the answers and be open to learning from your team members. Regularly solicit input from your team on your leadership style and how you can better support them. Here are some resources that might help. "Leaders Eat Last" by Simon Sinek is a book that helps with mindset shift. Seek out experienced leaders within your company or industry who can offer guidance and support. Also, explore if hiring an executive coach is an approach you prefer. Lastly, transition from individual contributor to leader takes time and requires a willingness to learn and adapt. It is not merely a change in title, but a fundamental shift in mindset. Good luck and if you have any questions, feel free to reach out!
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Varun Krovvidi
Varun Krovvidi
Google Product Marketing LeadJune 20
Product marketing is a relatively new and evolving discipline. Unlike traditional marketing roles, there's no specific educational path or degree that leads directly to a product marketing career. As a result, we often come from diverse backgrounds, bringing unique skill sets and perspectives to the table. When hiring junior PMMs, especially those without direct experience, it's essential to recognize this and look for candidates who possess the fundamental skills and mindset that can be applied and developed in the context of product marketing. Here's what I prioritized: 1/ Can they tell a compelling story? Ask them to summarize a complex technical concept in simple terms for a non-technical audience. Or even have them tell a story about a product they like. Specifically evaluate if they can identify 2-3 key aspects of a product that can drive impact on a customer 2/ Can they work with cross functional stakeholders? Present a hypothetical scenario where they need to collaborate with sales, product, and design teams. Assess their ability to navigate different perspectives and build consensus. Ask about past experiences working with cross-functional teams, focusing on challenges they faced and how they overcame them. 3/ Can they identify the most critical tasks and focus their energy where it matters most? Give them a list of competing product marketing initiatives and ask them to prioritize them based on potential impact and available resources. Observe their thinking process (or) Present a case study of a failed product launch and ask them to analyze the root causes, emphasizing the importance of prioritizing the right actions. It can be a common launch in the market as well. 4/ Can they truly understand and represent a customer? Ask them to create a customer persona for a target segment, detailing their pain points, motivations, and buying behaviors. It can be for a product they use. They need not have the right framework, but can they deeply understand a customer and their behaviors. 5/ [Optional] Can they understand what a business needs? Ask them to explain how they would measure the success of a product and how it might relate to a business outcome. I recommend not looking for frameworks in their answers, but to understand if their thought process is in the right direction. Frameworks are coachable. Mindset is tougher. And lastly, every PMM is a result of some manager taking a chance on them. Good luck in hiring !
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Varun Krovvidi
Varun Krovvidi
Google Product Marketing LeadJune 20
I love this question. Fundamentally going to market for enterprise vs SMB/mid market requires a difference frame of thinking. 1. Buyer Personas: Enterprise: * Decisions involve a complex buying committee with diverse roles (C-suite, IT, procurement, end-users). * Prioritize proven solutions, established vendors, and robust security/compliance features. * Require extensive due diligence, proof of concepts, and negotiation. SMB/Mid-Market: * Often involve fewer stakeholders, with a primary decision-maker (owner, manager). * Seek affordable solutions with quick ROI and ease of implementation. * More agile and open to trying new products/vendors. 2. Distinct Needs: * Enterprise: * Need solutions that can be tailored to complex workflows and integrate with existing systems. * Require products that can handle large volumes of data and support business growth. * Expect dedicated account management, training, and rapid issue resolution. * SMB/Mid-Market: * Prefer intuitive interfaces and minimal setup time. * Seek cost-effective solutions with pay-as-you-go or scalable pricing models. * Value online documentation, tutorials, and community forums for support. 3. Differentiated Storytelling: * Enterprise: * Quantify ROI, highlight case studies with similar companies, and emphasize risk mitigation. * Tailor messaging to C-suite concerns like revenue growth, cost reduction, and competitive advantage. * Position your brand as an industry expert through whitepapers, webinars, and speaking engagements. * SMB/Mid-Market: * Emphasize ease of use, quick wins, and tangible results. * Showcase testimonials and case studies from similar businesses to build trust and credibility. * Leverage online reviews, ratings, and awards to demonstrate your product's popularity and effectiveness. 4. Go-to-Market Channels: * Enterprise: * Focus on building relationships with key decision-makers through personalized demos, presentations, and negotiations. * Target specific high-value accounts with tailored campaigns and content. * Participate in conferences and trade shows to network with potential clients and partners. * SMB/Mid-Market: * Generate leads through content marketing, social media, and email campaigns. * Leverage a dedicated team for high-volume, transactional sales. * Offer free trials or limited versions of your product to allow users to experience its value firsthand. 5. Iteration Cycles: * Enterprise: Longer sales cycles and complex implementations often require more extensive planning and testing before iterating on messaging or product features. * SMB/Mid-Market: Shorter sales cycles and faster feedback loops allow for more rapid experimentation and adjustments to marketing campaigns and product offerings. 6. Pricing Models: * Enterprise: Customizable pricing models with tiered options, volume discounts, and add-on services. * SMB/Mid-Market: Simple, transparent pricing with clear value propositions, such as freemium, monthly subscriptions, or usage-based pricing. This is just general guidance while the actual approach should be tailored to the specific use case
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What can I include in my marketing portfolio to standout from the crowd as a product marketing candidate.
I'm new to Product Marketing. In the interviews that I've done, I am being asked to present a marketing portfolio.
Varun Krovvidi
Varun Krovvidi
Google Product Marketing LeadJune 20
Absolutely! One way to do this is by thinking of yourself as a "product" being sold to the company. Your product marketing portfolio is a marketing campaign – but for yourself. Just like a successful product launch, you need to showcase your unique value, tell a compelling story, and provide evidence to back up your claims. To do that, you need to understand: 1/ What is your unique value? What sets you apart? What specific skills, experiences, or perspectives do you bring that other candidates don't? Identify your target audience well. Tailor your value to the specific companies and roles you're interested in. What are their pain points, and how can you solve them? 2/ What is a compelling story that communicates your value? Your portfolio should tell a story of your career journey, highlighting key milestones, challenges overcome, and lessons learned. If you don't have a portfolio yet, starting posting your thoughts on channels like LinkedIn to communicate your thought process. 3/ What is the proof point to your story? Quantify your achievements whenever possible. Use data to demonstrate the impact of your work. If you do not have data, gather positive feedback from colleagues, managers, or clients to reinforce your credibility and showcase your skills. Here are some of the other things to consider: 1/ Develop a strong personal brand that reflects your unique value proposition. This could include a professional website or online portfolio or active social media presence etc., 2/ Connect with other product marketers and build relationships with potential employers. Attend industry events, join online communities, and participate in relevant conversations. 3/ Be authentic. Let your personality and passion shine through in every conversation. Good luck!
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