Jo Ann Sanders

AMA: Honeycomb.io VP Marketing, Jo Ann Sanders on Developing Your Product Marketing Career

December 22 @ 10:00am PST

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Top Questions
Do you generally recommend that candidates go 'above and beyond' in preparing for interviews by, for example, putting together 30-60-90 day plans or a report on the company/product and strengths/weaknesses/opportunities to give the interviewer a glimpse into how they think? In which situations do you recommend this approach or not?
Jo Ann Sanders
VP Marketing at Honeycomb.io
It is really hard to get these types of big deliverables right, as you won’t really have enough information as an interviewee to nail them. Unless I specifically ask for this type of deliverable, it can actually work against you. Instead, I prefer that candidates show how they think throughout t...more
What is the single most important skill / expertise for a relatively junior PMM to cultivate that separates the good from the (potentially) great?
Jo Ann Sanders
VP Marketing at Honeycomb.io
The single most important skill is to deeply understand and feel a sense of ownership over how your company makes money and where the problems are in the marketing-SDR-sales funnel. Or in the self-serve funnel, depending upon your business model. PMMs are drawn to the function generally because ...more
Product Marketing is often a very flat team, with very little hierarchy (except at larger companies) how do you prepare yourself to become a Director and manage a team, without any experience managing anyone previously?
I'm on my 5th year of product marketing in my career, with another 5 years before that in general demand gen at very small companies. I've had management experience in the past, but not in a Product Marketing role. Often times in smaller companies, there will be 1 or 2 PMMs, usually in a very flat hierarchy, or a single boss, with no room to really move up a proverbial ladder and into management experience. So what are ways that I can prepare myself now, so that if the time comes to apply for a Director position (either internally or at another company) that I can be considered even without recent people management experience? Are there any courses for this that are highly regarded in the management arena?
Jo Ann Sanders
VP Marketing at Honeycomb.io
Great question. There are 3 ways to get demonstrable management experience outside of having FTEs report to you. #1: Manage interns and contractors. Volunteer to run a message testing project through a research vendor. Volunteer to produce an explainer video series using an animation production ...more
If your product marketing team is only or two people responsible for covering multiple products with complex features, how would you recommend dividing the workload in the short-term so as best to support long-term growth and expansion of the team?
(context: small company, still establishing product marketing function, no senior marketing leader to guide, lots of room to carve own path, looking for best ways to support success!)
Jo Ann Sanders
VP Marketing at Honeycomb.io
I would look at 2 vectors. * What products/features are critical in winning deals. At Honeycomb, our Sales Engineering leader looked at all closed/won deals in a given time frame and indicated which products/features were most important in successful POCs. We’re putting PMM ownership o...more
What are the most important skills (both tactical and intangible) that are must-have for product marketers?
Ex... GTM: it more important to be skilled at product or feature-specific launches or to be skilled at high-level overall GTM (messaging, positioning, pricing, packaging).
Jo Ann Sanders
VP Marketing at Honeycomb.io
For my #1 tip, see the answer to another question here re: what skills to develop to stand out as a PMM. tl;dr: deeply understand the marketing-SDR-sales funnel (and/or the self-serve funnel if that is important to your company) and tie your work to funnel IMPACT. The full answer unpacks this mor...more
What experiences and skillsets should an experienced 'generalist' marketer look to really profile and play up when applying and interviewing for a fully dedicated PMM role?
Jo Ann Sanders
VP Marketing at Honeycomb.io
What PMM leaders are looking for in a candidate really comes down to 3 things. * A deep understanding of the target audience. As a generalist marketer, you probably have used a variety of tools - Hubspot/Marketo, analytics tools, virtual event platforms, etc. You are more likely to get a ...more
Due to the collaborative nature of the Product Marketing role, KPIs can sometimes be hard to attribute directly to Product Marketing success. Do you have recommendations for alternative ways to measure the true impact of Product Marketing?
Jo Ann Sanders
VP Marketing at Honeycomb.io
This is one of the trickiest parts of PMM. We generally do not hold a number, but we enable teams that do hold a number (i.e. Demand Gen, SDRs, Sales, etc).  I do ask my PMM Directors and above to own the top-level KPIs for those other teams as part of their OKRs, even though they don't own all ...more
I'm a jr. marketer w/ experience in social media & influencer marketing. I'm interested in messaging, positioning, product, etc, and think Product Marketing would be a good fit. What are some career tips & suggestions on how to segue into this area?
Jo Ann Sanders
VP Marketing at Honeycomb.io
In your current company, start building a relationship with the PMM team and PMM leadership. Volunteer to take on a few things that leverage your background and help PMM. One thing that comes to mind is to do an analysis of what is thematically working in social media and influencer marketing, a...more
Do you recommend a Senior Product Marketer who is looking to advance his/her career and has worked at start-ups for 5 years to join another smaller start-up or a larger more established company?
Jo Ann Sanders
VP Marketing at Honeycomb.io
I do think having a mix of both startup and large company experience is highly desirable - it shows that you can succeed in a variety of environments. So at some point, you will need to make the jump. I do believe that my mix of both worlds has made me more marketable. Going to a larger company ...more