How do you think about your first 30/60/90 day goals when coming in as the Head of Product Marketing in a startup that didn't have product marketing before?
30 days: Balance being an absolute sponge and learning by doing. Be a sponge by reading every doc you can get your hands on (enablement materials, case studies, team quarterly/annual plans, research studies, etc.), talking to as many prospects and customers as possible, and scheduling 1:1s with both stakeholders and company leadership. Learn by doing by getting involved in low-risk, low-hanging fruit activities where a PMM touch is needed but perhaps don’t require a ton of context.
60 days: Hopefully you’ve gained enough context by 30 days to start to get an idea of what the big challenges and opportunities are at the company. My goal is to have identified a couple of “base hits” that I can deliver by days 60-90 that can demonstrate tangible results against things that a key stakeholder cares about like the CMO, a Sales VP, or a product manager/leader who is a respected influencer within the product org. Identifying and delivering these base hits gives you an early platform within the organization of visible results and relationships that can open doors and give you the room you need to set an ambitious vision and plan for the function.
90 days: Delivering a POV on both the role you want to carve out for the PMM function (see my answer on surprises about moving to a smaller organization) and the initiatives you hope to tackle in the coming quarter. If you’ve done the homework of gaining context as a sponge, delivering one or two meaningful base hits, and winning the trust and endorsement of a couple influential stakeholders, you’re much more likely to get buy-in on your plan/POV and the latitude to actually start getting to work on building the PMM function as opposed to just executing on stuff people throw your way.
Now this is a fun challenge. Assuming you did your homework during the interview process, you should have a good idea of what you're getting into. That doesn't mean you won't find some skeletons lurking behind close doors. Rather you should understand how the team views product marketing, what kind of executive support you can expect, and their expectations of you.
With that mind, here are a few key things I would want to accomplish after 90 days.
Everyone knows what product marketing does and what we're responsible for. That means internal evangelism and roadshows. You will need to educate internal teams on product marketing and get everyone on the same page. Don't assume they have the same definition. You define and evangelism it with executive support.
Get product marketing added to the cross-functional agenda specifically product and sales teams. It's crucial that you're seen as a leader within these teams.
Find and knock out any quick wins. This will make you look like good and earn respect among other teams. People want to work with A-players and people that can count on to get shit done.
At the end of 90 days, you should be prepared to present a long-term strategy of how why we're gonna win. Depending on the company, long-term could be a year, 6 months, or a quarter. Whatever that timeframe is I would want to see a presentation outlining our go-to-market strategy.
Lastly, be sure to check out my Sharebird podcast called Thrills & Chills where I interview first product marketers and those who have established product marketing in company.
One of the best pieces of advice I got before joining Hopin, was to take the necessary time I needed to be a "sponge" and let things soak in, before going straight into "solve-mode". Of course, that's easier said than done :)
When joining any startup as the first product marketer, you'll be getting requests from every angle from week 1(and sometimes before you even start!) - and that's especially true with PMM, because it is such a cross-functional role. This is what I've found to be helpful:
30 days: understand both the tangible and intangible working cultures of the company. How are decision made? Who are your main stakeholders? What is top of mind for each of them, and where is there overlap? Also use this time to develop your own "Product Marketing Charter" to do a bit of a roadshow and help others understand your mission and responsibilities (remember, PMM is still a fairly new concept for many!)
60 days: identify some quick win projects to start building your brand and help the company start to understand the value of PMM (develop sales one-pagers, put in a better release process, start tiering your feature releases, etc...) Also take this time to identify the tools and resources you need in order to do your job successfully.
90 days: by the 90 day mark at most startups, you're on OG! Embrace that feeling and remember that more likely than not, no one at the company knows more about product marketing than you do. Present your big ideas and long-term plans to your stakeholders, and see what resonates to help you prioritize where to execute first. This is also a great time to ask for any additional resources or headcount you need in order to do your job successfully.
Product Marketing’s superpower is being the “Voice of the Product to Customers and the Voice of Customers to Product.” When establishing PMM as a new function, the best place to start is listening. First 30 days: Listen and truly get to know your Customers and the Product.
On the Customer side, what this looks like practically is spending as much time in the early days reviewing Help/Support tickets, reading through research reports, sitting in on focus groups/interviews -- anything you can to get close to the Customer. Even if you’re a Customer yourself, you’ve got to fully understand the range of customers your product attracts and why. Who are the power users? Who are the churned users? What experiences are the most delightful? The most painful?
Engage with Product to understand what’s most top-of-mind for your team. How is the product best used today? Are there unexpected ways customers have learned to use your product? What aspects of the customer experience are the most challenging to solve?
First 60-90 days: Build the shared plan (see previous question) that addresses the company’s short-term, most pressing, PMM needs while building a PMM team that will drive longer term success for the business.
30 days: Prioritize understanding your customers, your product, and your company:
- Shadow customer calls (or listen to recordings if they exist).
- Get to know your cross-functional partners - schedule time with people from product, sales, marketing, engineering, design, etc. This will help you understand areas of opportunity as you establish relationships internally.
- Learn about your product - get access to a sandbox account, read the documentation, read case studies, etc.
- Educate your company on what product marketing is and how other teams can work with you.
- Ask a lot of questions!
60 days: Plan and validate
- Based on what you've learned, start creating a plan for what you and your team should prioritize over the next quarter and year.
- Share your plan and priorities broadly to get feedback and adjust your plan based on that feedback.
- Develop a hiring plan and start recruiting.
- Continue meeting with customers, teammates, etc.
- By the end of 60 days, try to get a quick win out: revamp the pitch deck, launch a new product/feature, etc.
90 days: Execute and refine
- Focus on hiring and recruiting - the PMM market is really competitive and recruiting takes time.
- Continue meeting with customers, teammates, etc. Product marketing is one of the most cross-functional roles - your cross-functional relationships are really important.
- Continue to share your plan, progress, and accomplishments.
PMM wears so many hats it's important to recognize what is needed at any stage of a company. When first coming into an organization as the first PMM I think the most important thing to do is establish what does and doesn't exist - and where the biggest holes that can be plugged are. This can be accomplished by interviewing the top stakeholders at your company: Sales, Product, Support to understand what is working and where the pain points are. From that, you can build a list and prioritize it accordingly. Using something like an Eisenhower Matrix exercise can be a great way to knock out things that have to happen - maybe you also pick a few "easy wins" to support the team right away. That being said, I think when starting at a company as an initial PMM you have to square away certain areas before beginning others - the #1 thing you have to do first is to talk to users, active, churned, big, small - this will inform a lot of your next steps - I think next comes positioning, which entails competitive analyses as well, then some level of sales enablement, which is a part of a larger GTM initiative.
A KEY THING to know at the onset is, does everyone know what a PMM does and what value they bring? Ask all leaders and cross functional partners.
Product Marketers are the marketing strategists, the brains of marketing, the connective glue between cross-functional partners, the ones who support a company's internal teams, the market, and target customers to achieve competitive advantage, increase users, adoption, find a path towards monetization and build customer lifetime value, we are a strategic function that aligns stakeholders to drive business growth, product usage and customer lifetime value -- you pick your definition.
If they do not know this, then you become the product and you need to product market yourself ASAP. You need to have a strategy, narrative and deck to gain a position in the mind of all your co-workers (personas) so they know what value you bring and the power of having a PMM on board to collaborate with them. Then, identify your and crush them.
This is the scenario I've seen too many times when the above doesn't play out right...the startup is struggling with hitting their numbers and layoffs begin. PMM's can be first or last on the chopping block. I've seen PMM's be the first to get laid off. OR I've also seen, PMMs be the first executives will call upon to be the strategists to help steer the ship back: I.e. redefine our persona and target customers, relook at our TAM/SAM, roll out a new position and message to win market share, identify where in the customer journey we are falling short, figure out a new pricing strategy to stop the bleed on churn, help enable the field better to understand complex problems and identify sales signals better etc...
The first 90 days are crucial to any job, but especially for new product marketing leaders. This is the time to establish your credibility, build relationships, and layout team roles that will set your function up for success for the months to come. Here’s how I break down my priorities by month:
First 30 days – Assess the current state and product roadmap
Look at my response below regarding the 3 prior deliverables that I review when joining a new company. But, in general, here the goal is to understand what the immediate internal pain points are. Start with looking at what audience research exists, reviewing existing customer messaging and landing pages, and understanding the acquisition funnel. You should also use this time to become intimately familiar with the product roadmap. From here, you should be able to identify some quick wins as well as some areas for strategic, step-change impact. Lastly, use your newness to inquire about current roles and responsibilities of product marketing and stakeholders’ thoughts on how that could evolve. This provides important intel for influencing RACIs down the line and identifying which people or functions may be aligned with your vision.
30-60 Days – Begin Establishing Processes and Adding Value
From your first 30 days, you should already have a sense of where some acute pain points from an external positioning and internal operations perspective. This period is now focused on showing value by getting in some quick wins. This could entail a quick messaging refresh, establishing a GTM tiering framework for different product releases, and/or some sales enablement collateral. This will be critical for gaining credibility and winning partnerships with other teams.
By this time, you should be ready to roll out your team charter and RACI. Results come first from the quick wins, but you don’t want to wait too long to get your working model and flows aligned. This is the time to start to communicate your larger vision for product marketing. This step should likely come in 30-60 days if you are at a larger organization. But at a startup focusing on delivery in less controversial areas wholly owned by PMM first will set the right tone. Additionally, here’s where I would kick off a larger strategic initiative or big bet for your team, such as a revamp of the customer segmentation or a new market entry strategy.
This is a great question.
First 30 days:
Focus is on getting to know the team (your peers, execs, and those who work for you) and the product -- and starting to build relationships, build trust and respect from others.
Do a listening tour
Talk to sales, product, cs, finance (internal)
Talk to customers live and listen to gong calls (customers & prospects), read G2 reviews, customer NPS and product/feature feedback & requests
Talk to analysts (gartner, forrester, idc) and read their reports
First 60 Days
After you've listened and learned (and of course will continue to learn), put together your reflections. What you've heard, what you see as challenges and opportunities, and what you are going to do to help the company, how you'll measure success (share this brief plan with your executive team -- 5-8 slides total).
Do you have the right people on your team? Do you have the data you need? The tooling you need?
Include any FTE and budget requests you have in this deck (and if you're not ready at this point, you can do this after 60-90 days)
Build the Goals/OKRs (whatever framework your company uses) for the following quarter (depends on when you join)
Now that you've built some relationships, you can talk to leaders of each department about the opportunity to join their team meetings (or a company all hands) to share a bit more about yourself, your team (what is product marketing, how pmm helps their team, how to work together etc).
This is you building your team charter & mission deck - and incorporating "what is pmm and why it matters" so that you can do a roadshow with each team
Pick 1 big meaty project that you are assigning your name to and can start to work on (this might be parenting with sales to rebuild the sales process, redefine your ICP, revamp messaging & the website, build a competitive program, build customer insights & advocacy programs etc).
Identify a few quick wins you can take on and deliver in the next 1-2 months before your 90 days.
First 90 Days
Continue executing on the big project
Showcase the results of the quick wins (if possible)
Make sure you're building up your team - and getting them wins. Ensure they are creating value for the internal stakeholders they work with
Reinforcement of PMM and the conversations you should be part of (if you're not in those meetings already)
Imbed yourself in the business at this point - be the glue, be part of the conversations. You might still be listening in some but have valuable inputs to share for others.
I'll "yes and" Gregg's answer and say that this will really vary by company size and complexity. I was at a startup where my 30-day goals included creating buyer personas and enabling the sales team to talk to the decision-makers. So it was more like a 10-20-30 day goals as described below.
At SAP, the organization is so sprawling and complex that the my goals were actually 60-120-180. I've been with the company for almost a year and I'm still getting introduced to some of the far-flung enablement teams spread across the globe.
The key is to set some measurable goals against appropriate milestones.
Oy! First, good luck! I have done the "first" before. I don't think you have the luxury of 30/60/90. I think it's more like 30 days to identify the problem and tackle easy wins. Sixty days build out a basic launch framework, then a GTM strategy, align both with leadership. Then 90 days to test and what you build and revise based on market feedback. My advice is to prioritize like crazy.
Understand and map the following points when you start new with any organization. This may also be helpful if you are the only PMM.
First 30 days:
01. Mission and Vision (Talk to the CEO /Founder if its a startup)
The founding story?
Why do you exist?
What are the targets? Objectives, goals and metrics.
What are roles and responsibilities?
What’s on the product roadmap-month, quarter, year? How are tasks prioritized? How are customer requests prioritized?
02. Know Your Product (Existing training material, web content)
Go through Product Demo, Sales Calls, Learn to Demo the product, Enablement Materials, Pitches, etc.
Review website and all available content created
03. Identify Key Stakeholders (Sales, Customer Service, Engineering, Product, Marketing)
Learn the Team structure, schedule 1:1s, build key relationships by talking to the manager, engage in consensus building
Focus on relationship building and understand the expectations each has from a PMM and offer support
Understand individual team plans and deliverables for the next 2 Quarters and areas where you can provide some quick wins
Next 30 days:
04. Know your competitors (Create a central document that gives edit rights to the sales teams to add/modify suggestions)
Start with your direct 5 competitors as well as indirect solutions
Find their(pricing, ads, products, differentiation, positioning, promotions, ICP)
Find their sales strategy(sales process, channels, emails)
Find their customers, case studies, countries, applications, use cases
Identify gaps in the market that are not currently addressed by anyone
05)Talk to your Customers (understand their motivations to buy/not to buy/JBTD)
Align with collaborators to explore opportunities and the best channel to reach out to the customer
Determine relationship-building with vendors and suppliers, channel partners
Talk to the existing prospects, leads, and customer service reps and build feedback loops on the exact process that happens today from the time the prospect enters the funnel till conversion
Next 30 days :
Existing Framework and Process Review
Determine which frameworks need to be reviewed, updated or created
Look at the existing tools-project management, sales enablement
Understand the company and industry standards of practices and existing structure. Compliances, regulations, etc.
06)Define/Refine a Launch Process if there isn't any(Put a framework together by tiering launches)
Share the framework with key stakeholders to get alignment on timelines, tactics, process, metrics.
07)Audit existing content (Marketing Material/PRDs, MRDs)
Sales Deck? Buyer Persona? Value Prop? Identify Quick Wins and create a report with your insights, recommendations, action plans and timelines.
08)Setup Communication Channels
Monthly Newsletters (revenue, key metrics, product/marketing updates, competitor intel)
Online channels(teams/slack/ channels: pricing, competitors)
09)Create Battlecards for 2 to 3 direct competitors
Why we win vs Why we lose
Key differentiators(price, speed, security, supports, apps)
Give collaborators/stakeholders permission and space to review your insights, plan of action.
The first 30/60/90 day goals as the new Head of Product Marketing for a start-up without a product marketing function can be broken down into these 3 parts:
First 30 days: Listen & learn. Set expectations.
The goal is to understand the business and cultural context, without any judgment. Set up internal meetings with teams and cross-functional leaders, and the exec leadership team to:
Understand existing processes and identify potential opportunities/gaps by asking people what they need; what they know of Product Marketing; how do they see their function collaborating with and getting value from Product Marketing. This is a chance to start building relationships.
Understand the immediate, mid-term, and long-term business goals.
Shadow Sales calls if possible, to understand existing sales narratives, customer excite/pain points/ and existing customer personas.
Second 30 days: Active contributor.
Kickstart/participate in one key initiative, based on the information gathered in the first 30 days.
Deepdive into roadmaps:
This is a great opportunity to also start introducing structure where there is none.
Final 30 days: Reflect & lead with confidence.
Start planning for the next Q together.
I've found this structure useful for a team size of 1 - which I've been before in a start-up - to a larger team size.
Having clarity and focus is key - I like to think of 100 days of discovery as a start.
100 day discovery questions - PMM assessment - Ask the questions that will guide your priorities for 30/60/90 -> 100 days
I came across these assessment questions early on in my career and this has helped me in understanding the company dynamics and landscape. This is a good litmus test to understand cross-functional alignment across key stakeholders.
Customer interview questionnaire https://divmanickam.substack.com/p/customer-differentiation-for-messaging
I needed a starting point as I was new to the company(1month+), I didn’t have the breadth and depth of knowledge that is needed for me to conduct a positioning and messaging exercise. So, I created a three-step plan:
Step 1: Understand the market — read the analyst reports, and gather data points that will help guide where the market is going
Step 2: Understand the customer — I created an interview guide to ask the right questions to our most valued customers. And validate by asking these questions to internal stakeholders from sales to customer success, to the executive leadership team.
Step 3: Understand the competition — This is where it’s important to not just know where the market’s going and what our customer needs are, but also understand where the competition is headed in this ever changing market.