Jon Rooney

AMA: Unity Vice President Product Marketing, Jon Rooney on Building a Product Marketing Team

December 6 @ 10:00AM PST
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Unity Vice President Product Marketing, Jon Rooney on Building a Product Marketing Team
Top Questions
What's the best way to split up responsibilities in a Product Marketing team within an Enterprise company?
Should PMMs be split into products, Regions, Projects, Teams, A mixture?
Jon Rooney
Jon Rooney
Unity Vice President Product MarketingDecember 7
I've always structured my PMM teams around customer segments/audiences (a "buyer back" approach), which is an outside-in vs. an inside-out view that better aligns to sales and is less subject to product-first, inside-the-building myopia. This structure forces your teams to take a customer view first - what problems am I trying to solve? what are my goals? what am I doing today and what's lacking? - that will provide useful guardrails for messaging, launches and campaign design. Also, this also encourages more industry and role-specific empathy and understanding. If, for example, your company sells primarily to Financial Services companies and the Federal Government, those are two totally different types of customers who talk differently, think of things in different ways, hang out in different watering holes and even buy differently. If your audiences are more segmented by roles, for example, Cybersecurity folks and DevOps engineers share a lot of the same technical knowledge but have real, meaningful differences (including rolling into different budgets).
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Jon Rooney
Jon Rooney
Unity Vice President Product MarketingDecember 7
The analogy I like to use for folks new to Product Marketing is that it's like archery on horseback. The role requires two very different skills sets that are hard enough to develop separately. A good PMM is an expert marketing/communicator/getter-of-stuff-done while at the same time a curious, fearless technical practitioner who's bent on learning as much about a certain customer/domain/technology as possible to be credible in the marketing work they do. So my general advice is that there's no short-cut, just keep working on both aspects of the job, emphasizing the area where you might not be as strong. If you're strong technically (maybe you have an engineering or computer science background), make sure you focus on writing, simplifying communications to "big animal pictures" and being able to influence and rally others around common work. Read the best business books (Geoffrey Moore, April Dunford, etc), do tons of writing - even if it's just for yourself or your smaller team. Write world class team status reports - every little bit helps. If you're background is the opposite, maybe you think of yourself as more of a pure marketer, dig into product. Learn how to code (YouTube is overflowing with tutorials for pretty much everything available) and learn the mechanics of how things work end-to-end in your industry (like how an insurance claim gets filed and processed or how DevOps engineers go from the first sign of an issue all the way to resolution). If there's Sales Engineering or other technical training/certification that your company offers, jump on it. You might struggle, but keep with it. You'll emerge an awesome PMM.
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Jon Rooney
Jon Rooney
Unity Vice President Product MarketingDecember 7
Any business case for expanding PMM should be built around the expansion of target use cases or audiences. If your company is selling new stuff to existing customer types OR existing stuff to new customer types OR new stuff to new customer types, chances are you'll need more PMM coverage to cover messaging, positioning, launches, sales enablement, campaign design, analyst relations, etc. When modeling, tie additional headcount to projected net new projected revenue, aligning that investment to necessary engineering, PM and sales investment. Look for metrics like average deal-size, average deal cycle, churn rate, monthly recurring revenue and make the case that incremental PMM headcount is a needed to hit targets.
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Jon Rooney
Jon Rooney
Unity Vice President Product MarketingDecember 7
I try to have as much of the recruiting, interviewing and offer process planned as possible before the role is opened and posted. * Keep a repository of job descriptions (JDs) that I've either written before or seen over the years that I keep in a file so I'm not starting from a blank page when it's time to pull one together. * Map out the panel of interviewers including who's asking a candidate about which skills/topics as well as both primary and secondary panelists so the schedule doesn't get slowed down if one person is out. * Personally screen as many of the candidates that flow through (even if it's in the hundreds of resumes) - this will give you a broad sense of the pool as well as prevent things from slowing down if the recruiter is tasked to do 100% of pre-screens. * Clear space on calendars for the interview process - send out a framing email to all the panelists and other relevant folks thanking them in advance for their time, emphasizing the importance of the role and the characteristics you're looking for. This will also give panelists a graceful way to bow out if they're too swamped to commit to interviewing. * Plan out the offer - including total budget for salary and, if relevant, signing bonus and equity. Make sure you really understand your envelope and what you need to do if you need to make that envelope a little bigger to land the right candidate.
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Jon Rooney
Jon Rooney
Unity Vice President Product MarketingDecember 7
Obviously exact metrics will vary by company, but metrics that fall in one of these 3 buckets: 1. Revenue (ARR, MRR, LTV) - some measure that shows that the products/areas you focus on are capturing, as well as creating, value. 2. Product usage (Activation, churn rate, time spent <...>) - "shelfware" is the bane of many a PMM's existence, but with cloud, modern telemetry and PLG motions, it's never been easier to see if people are using your products and how, for how long, etc. 3. Customer engagement/satisfaction (Net Promoter Score, CSAT, 3rd party ratings/rankings) - Happy customers are a leading indicator of future revenue so build out a program to track at least one measurement.
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Jon Rooney
Jon Rooney
Unity Vice President Product MarketingDecember 7
These may seem overly simplistic, but I've found these to be effective even when interviewing for senior PMM roles: 1. Tell me about your current/last company - what do they do? Who are their customers? What problems do they solve? 2. When customers pick your company, why (why do they win)? When customers pick competitors, why (why do they lose)? 3. What launch/program/piece of collateral are you most proud of? What impact did it have? How did you pull it together? 4. What skill do you have that was the hardest for you, personally, to learn? Tell me about that process. 5. Looking beyond your industry, what campaign or launch or rebrand (it can be anything) has impressed you over the last few years?
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