Alina Fu

Alina FuShare

Head of Marketing for Viva Goals and Learning (Director), Microsoft
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Alina Fu
Alina Fu
Head of Marketing for Viva Goals and Learning (Director), MicrosoftJanuary 25

If I could only pick 3, it would be:

  • Storytelling
  • Competitive insights
  • Customer-obsessed

Telling a story isn’t just filling out a messaging and positioning framework but about being able to pitch a narrative on why status quo is broken, paint what that world would look like, and why your product will address the need. Layer in competitive insights in your analysis about the market, trends, and competitors to highlight your product’s differentiators and you can go even farther. Finally, doing all of that while being customer-obsessed and putting imaging how, when, and why they would choose your product and how to create a great product experience for them will help you reach that next level.

Alina Fu
Alina Fu
Head of Marketing for Viva Goals and Learning (Director), MicrosoftJanuary 25

Like any good first meeting, ask yourself some discovery questions:

  1. What do I enjoy doing the most at work?
  2. Why do I want to get into product marketing?
  3. What products do I think are marketed well? Why?
  4. What products can be marketed better? How would I market it differently?
  5. Did I enjoy thinking about these discovery questions? If so, try to break into PMM!
Alina Fu
Alina Fu
Head of Marketing for Viva Goals and Learning (Director), MicrosoftJanuary 25

Every company has its own system or values that they look for during candidate review. During interviews, especially at larger enterprise companies, the recruiter or hiring manager usually has a rubric that assesses how much the candidate fulfills the criteria.

Here are what stands out for me in a pool of PMM candidates:

1. Achievement - how do they take initiative and demonstrate that they are results-oriented

2. Influence - how do they convey ideas that can influence others without formal authority

3. Leadership - how do they build on the work of others and help develop others

4. Adaptability/ Resilience - how do they navigate through ambiguous solutions and how do they pivot when needed

5. Self Awareness - how do they handle constructive feedback and how aware are they of their own strengths and opportunity areas

6. Problem-Solving - how well do they analyze situations, identify key issues, and produce an alternative solution

7. Strategy oriented - how well do they think beyond their current activity/scope into a broader vision

The more senior the role, the more emphasis I have on finding a candidate that can address all 7 characteristics on this list.

Alina Fu
Alina Fu
Head of Marketing for Viva Goals and Learning (Director), MicrosoftJanuary 25

I think that depends on the hiring manager. I would even go so far as to suggest maybe you haven’t found the right role or HM who is looking for that broad horizontal PMM or you may be under-leveling yourself. As you become more senior, that is when the broad horizontal PMM skills come into play. It also has to do a lot with the culture of hiring at said company. I’ve worked at a company where they are looking for that ALMOST-EXACT fit and domain expertise; I’ve worked at a company where they didn’t know what they were looking for but knew a PMM was “hot”; and I’ve worked at a company where my colleagues and direct reports all have VERY different backgrounds. If you have a specific skill set and you feel like the companies you’re interviewing for aren’t looking for that, I would recommend changing a dimension of the types of companies you are submitting your application to and see if that gets better results.

Alina Fu
Alina Fu
Head of Marketing for Viva Goals and Learning (Director), MicrosoftJanuary 25

How much do you trust your manager/management chain?

I’ve had direct reports who share their career aspirations with me, even if it’s a role outside of my team, and I count myself lucky that they trust me enough to share that. When they did, I would put them on projects that would expose them to the opportunity to build those skills. When I was at Google, they offered 20% projects and that allowed my direct report to experience what the other role would be like. I believe in nurturing people’s passions and leaning into their core competencies.

I’ve also had team members or mentees who want to be managers and they knew in their gut that there was no upward path for them (because of headcount, their peers’ leveling, and their skillset) so they went to a smaller-sized company to be the first PMM or Dir of PMM (team of 1-2) to get the title before making the jump to a larger company. That’s another option.

If you are truly invested in becoming a people manager, please start by telling your manager or skip level so they can keep an eye out for opportunities (this is assuming that you have a reputation as a high performer and you have a good relationship with your management chain). If you are in a company that invests in their employees (read: great culture), they would be able to offer alternatives such as managing an intern, leading more junior employees, or orchestrating a larger initiative.

I also nominate people for managerial-type learning courses or support supplemental development - companies usually have an education/learning budget allocated for this. You just need to ask if these opportunities exist and if you can be considered for it.

Alina Fu
Alina Fu
Head of Marketing for Viva Goals and Learning (Director), MicrosoftDecember 1

ABM is a topic that is near and dear to my heart, as we just announced 7 new ABM integrations and hosted a webinar about ABM strategies.

Data-driven marketing has extended beyond analytics, social, SEO/SEM, and A/B testing into insights and 3rd party data on customers’ wants and needs to tailor and target more relevant messaging and content to the recipients. How does this impact what product marketing focuses on?

It has made targeting and segmentation a greater focus for the team. In the past, I had to convince B2B leaders to run deeper segmentation beyond firmographics because the only segments they wanted to use were small business, mid-market, and large enterprise. But not all organizations based on size have similar tech adoption maturity, motivations and challenges. I prefer to use 2x2s to determine the target sweet spot, greenfield opportunities, and secondary audiences. This has made product marketing more influential and collaborative with demand gen, growth and campaign teams because of the retargeting opportunities and MarTech solutions available.

Gone are the days when leaders say “We offer our products and services for everyone. We are one size fits all”. Now it is “what is your size and preference and we will find the perfect fit for you”.

Alina Fu
Alina Fu
Head of Marketing for Viva Goals and Learning (Director), MicrosoftDecember 1

I take a relationship-based approach when I think about stakeholder management. I prefer to tailor my style to the individual, so it doesn’t matter as much which department but what type of personality they have and their communication preferences. For instance, a leader in department X may prefer pre-reads days in advance and then a discussion over feedback while a stakeholder in department Y prefers video conferences to spitball ideas in real time. At the end of the day, the goal is to foster a productive relationship with an enthusiastic stakeholder who will be a thought partner and collaborator.

A wise mentor once shared with me the rule of 3, especially if the stakeholder management is for someone on the senior leadership team.

  1. If the topic is something I’m willing to go to battle over, I will push until I hear a firm “no”.
  2. If I’m convicted but not all in, I would try 3 times before I accept that “it’s not going to happen”.
  3. If I feel indifferent either way, I would want the person driving the project to make the decision. I can share my thoughts but I want to empower them to own the call.
Alina Fu
Alina Fu
Head of Marketing for Viva Goals and Learning (Director), MicrosoftDecember 1

I don’t know if there is a turnkey framework but there are definitely lots of framework options available. You can find one that fits your needs or make your own (like I do).

Core to a GTM strategy include these essentials:

  • Core Bill of Materials (pitch deck, demo, battlecard, FAQ/data sheet)
  • Customer Journey across the funnel (or bowtie, which I prefer since it covers retention marketing)
  • Brand positioning and SWOT analysis
  • Messaging house (value prop and messaging pillars)
  • Segmentation and Targeting
  • Personas playbook
  • Cross-channel marketing strategy
  • Partner ecosystem

I believe in a product marketing org that covers all of these, which means multiple stakeholder groups. This is where the RACI for their signatures with time stamps would come in handy to document alignment and approval.

Alina Fu
Alina Fu
Head of Marketing for Viva Goals and Learning (Director), MicrosoftDecember 1

I partner very closely with the VP of Rev Marketing to make sure we have a coordinated funnel strategy. We are in constant communication and alignment for acquisition, conversion and retention. In addition, product marketing measures deals influenced for attribution. Our product marketing team’s metrics are quite different from rev marketing team’s metrics, so I don’t feel the need to own more of TOFU. However, I have a vested interest in conversion and retention, which is where my product marketing leans in most heavily.

It depends on the type of organization you’re in (marketing-led, sales-led, product-led) and your relationship with Rev Marketing. I have mostly worked in product-led environments, so product marketing isn’t reactive to rev growth, but rather a main stakeholder in coming up with the campaign concept, putting together the strategy and plan, and working with rev marketing to execute it.

Alina Fu
Alina Fu
Head of Marketing for Viva Goals and Learning (Director), MicrosoftDecember 1

I would recommend first uncovering the root cause of the confusion. Is the confusion causing redundancy, disagreements over roles & responsibilities, are mismatched expectations of results?

The best partnership between product marketing and marketing is when there are clear metrics that will make each team successful. Usually, this is pretty obvious for Tier 1 product launches given the level of resources and prioritization to warrant its own marketing campaign. The easiest way to outline how product marketing can make the marketing team successful is through a project brief that covers the proposed launch plan with product marketing calling the “play” - what channels, marketing mix, cadence of communications, etc - and have the marketing subject matter experts weigh in on what’s possible and what’s recommended given the audience, priority, and timing. Some PMM leaders use the hub and spoke model, with PMM described as the hub, working with the other teams (Marketing, Sales, CS, Product, Research, etc)

In most of the organizations I’ve been in, Product Marketing sits in Marketing but works closely with Product Management to achieve successful launches. Product Marketing and Product Management have clear, complementary objectives. When Product Marketing is best buds with Marketing, the Marketing team benefits from having a greater understanding of the company’s products and services to create campaigns and targeting to more efficiently generate and close opportunities.

Some companies delineate Product Marketing as Inbound and Outbound product marketing. If your Marketing organization is more focused on marketing-led or sales-led growth vs product-led growth, this could be a source for tension or the lack of clarity on what team is responsible for what aspect of the launch.

To address this, our Product Marketing team hosts the kickoff meetings with the rest of Marketing to discuss the handoff points and use Asana to project manage to completion. It stays high level enough so each Marketing department’s role is clear across comms, creative, demand gen, campaigns, marketing ops, and other groups.

The ideal product marketing organization would cover both - inbound and outbound product marketing so they can influence product innovation and GTM strategy. However, I have experienced that not all PMMs get to do both.

Credentials & Highlights
Head of Marketing for Viva Goals and Learning (Director) at Microsoft
Top 10 Product Marketing Contributor
Lives In San Jose, CA
Knows About Product Launches, Enterprise Product Marketing, Influencing the Product Roadmap, Mess...more