Alexa Scordato

Alexa ScordatoShare

PMO, TikTok
Currently: Marketer in Residence at Glitch + advising startups and coaching marketers. Previously: VP Marketing at Andela and Stack Overflow
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Alexa Scordato
Alexa Scordato
PMO, TikTokAugust 14

1. Is the business taking a product to market, trying to achieve product market fit, or accelerate demand? I recognize that some teams might say, "All 3!" but if you had to pick one, what's most important? 

2. Based on the answer above, product marketing can flex towards supporting product vs. sales. I like asking each functional leader what their top 3 needs are and actually exposing that list. Sometimes you get a pleasant surprise afterwards and both functions will actually request the same or relevant requests. For example, a sales team might want better messaging or training with regards to ideal customer profiles / personas. A product team might want more customer / user insights too, in which case killing 2 birds with one stone is ideal. 

3. Sometimes I plot initiatives on a matrix. The X axis = easy/low effort vs. difficult/complex. The Y axis = low vs. high impact. I prioritize 2-3 easy/high impact initiatives near-term and in parallel try to pursue 1-2 hard/high impact initiatives. 

Alexa Scordato
Alexa Scordato
PMO, TikTokAugust 14

My first piece of advice: Talk to your direct manager about this and make it known that a) you're interested in becoming a manager b) you'd appreciate any professional development they can provide in this area. The reason I call this out to start is because it's not always clear or obvious to managers that a team member wants this for him or herself (I've managed PMMs who want to stay individual contributors or move laterally into product management roles). I also know that there are a ton of managers who aren't proactive about having career developement conversations with their direct reports so in the absence of them not talking to you about this, start the conversation. That's part 1.  

Part 2: Understand if there's a path for growth within your current company

If there's a precedent for people moving up in your organization or the company is scaling in such a way where there's a need to grow teams, that's great. There's also the possibility that you may never move up in your current company in which case the only way to move up maybe actually be to move out. 

If you think you can grow within your current company: 

  • make sure your work product is exceptional. be the type of individual contributor who is setting a higher bar 
  • demonstrate that you're thinking beyond your own individual swim lane. showcase a commitment to operational excellence and process. be the person who is documenting their work, teaching others, and leaving a clear paper trail of artifacts that can be referenced as playbooks. 
  • practice servant leadership. in the absence of having a formal title, are you the type of person who is sharing knowledge generously within your org and also showing a genuine concern for others 
  • to the extent that you can work on complex and cross-functional projects and be seen as an A+ collaborator and communicator, the better 

As a people manager, if someone had a track record of the above and there was a management or lead position open on my team, I'd be more inclined to give someone in-house a shot than hire an outsider above them. 

If you think you can't grow within your current company and you want to be a director: 

  • seek out roles at startups where its understood at the onset that an experienced product marketer can and will grow into a manager
  • seek out companies where there's a clear growth path for product marketers and demonstrated mobility within the existing team 

I've always been a believer in learning by doing, but I also have had many managers and mentors along the way who gave me a shot in the absence of experience. Maximize your options by doing exceptional work, learning by doing (side hustles, extracurriculars, etc.), and growing your network. And to the extent that you have a good relationship with your manager, get them involved in this process. Great managers want you to succeed whether it's at your current company or not. 

Alexa Scordato
Alexa Scordato
PMO, TikTokAugust 14

Where to start? Every company has different policies for promotion criteria, but ultimately it needs to take into account 2 things: merit and business need. Business need has to come first. It means that there's a larger scope of a role that needs to be done - more responsibility and complexity within an org / team - and there's now an opportunity or need for someone to fill that. If that doesn't exist, promotions shouldn't be happening arbitrarily. I recongize that especially within startups, individual contributors want to grow and should be recognized for their efforts, but when merit supercedes business need, it creates complications down the road (inexperienced middle managers, people promoted for the sake of being promoted and then drowning in the deep end, etc.). There isn't a blanket set of KPI's someone needs to hit before they're promoted, but there should be an expectation with any job description that success is defined by x, y, and z. What those things are can be a combination of both quantitative and qualitative results. 

Alexa Scordato
Alexa Scordato
PMO, TikTokAugust 14

It's a good practice for anyone at a company, regardless of function, to ask themselves how their role impacts the bottom line. I think of revenue as a shared goal that helps frame goals and initiativese, but when it comes to the actual work product, I usually lean on other KPI's that are more immediately tied with the output. For example, a product marketing team is tasked with converting free trial users into paid subscribers. The overall goals and plans are specifically in service of increasing revenue by X. As a business leader I want the KPI to be revenue, but as a functional leader / line manager, I'm also looking at things like channel performance (e.g. email open rates) or KPI's like an increase in # of sales demos booked. You want revenue to be a shared KPI, but product marketers should also have KPI's they can own independently. 

Alexa Scordato
Alexa Scordato
PMO, TikTokAugust 14

The first 2 PMM's are going to wear many hats and serve many masters. There's unfortunately no way around that given the breadth of the function. The biggest tension is striking the balance between supporting product, supporting sales, and establishing an operational cadence for go-to-market (GTM) within the organization. I believe that a pod of 3-4 PMMs is really when the team can start hitting its stride by working across insights, GTM, and sales enablement. Until then, there are always going to be many competing priorities and the need to do more with less. My best advice for how to advocate for more resources: 1) Address the pain points of your functional leaders in sales and product. "If I had one more person, this is what I'd be able to do for you and your team..." Having 2 functions go to a C-level advocating for a full-time hire is a lot easier than 1! 2) Address the pain points of the business. "Churn is a real problem at the company and here are the initiatives that product marketing can do to support that..." Speak in terms of overall business KPI's vs. tactics or functional responsibilities 

Alexa Scordato
Alexa Scordato
PMO, TikTokAugust 14

This is related to the question above with regards to marketing's ability to influence the roadmap. There's no right or wrong way to do this. It's a matter of the role a CEO wants marketing to play within the organization. When a product is nascent or acting as a challenger within the market, I firmly believe marketing should have a big seat at the table and really shape the vision, voice, and brand at a company. 

Alexa Scordato
Alexa Scordato
PMO, TikTokAugust 14

If product marketing is embedded within product, what that usually tells me is that marketing is a secondary function to product. If you're operating within a product-led organization, the cadence of the business will be determined by product leadership and the roadmap they set. That said, marketing can certainly influence it, but it's a shared service to product. When product marketing reports into marketing leadership, that's usually a signal that marketing is a leading function at the executive table in which case there's more a balance between marketing and product co-creating or designing the user experience together. In both cases, marketing has a role to play, but in short, product marketing under marketing sets the stage for a partnership-oriented relationship with product vs. a service-based one. 

Alexa Scordato
Alexa Scordato
PMO, TikTokAugust 14

Starting with those three functional responsibilities - insights, launch/go-to-market, and sales enablement makes a ton of sense for a team of that size. Depending on the current and future product set, I've also seen teams re-org to match customer segment (SMB, enterprise, etc.) or paired with a product manager who is either tasked with overseeing a product and/or stage of a user life cycle (e.g. acquisition, retention). 

Credentials & Highlights
PMO at TikTok
Product Marketing AMA Contributor
Lives In Brooklyn, New York
Knows About Consumer Product Marketing, Product Marketing / Demand Gen Alignment, Solutions and P...more