April Rassa

April RassaShare

Product Marketing, Cohere
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April Rassa
April Rassa
Product Marketing, Cohere | Formerly Adobe, Box, GoogleApril 2

There are probably three major questions to answer when operationalizing a GTM plan: What is the governance? Meaning who is in charge? What is the division of labor? Who holds what decision rights (e.g., decide, influence, escalate)?

When do you scale?

There are two broad options: launch-and-learn or test-and-scale. In a launch-and-learn model, scaling happens first as the commercialization comes online across the enterprise at once. Learning then occurs after rollout and across the enterprise. This type of GTM implementation makes sense in a low-risk, high-resilience situation.

In a test-and-scale model, the innovations come online in pockets and pilots. Pilot learnings inspire changes to the plan, and the finalized plan is rolled out in waves. The test-and-scale model makes sense for implementing a commercialization strategy when external and internal resilience is low. It also makes sense when resilience is high but risk is also high.

And, last you need a framework.

In either scaling framework, what is the cadence of activities over the course of the implementation? I've used a 4-step process successfully:

1) Act on the plan

2) Measure the actions’ results

3) Share and discuss the results

4) Adjust the plan

April Rassa
April Rassa
Product Marketing, Cohere | Formerly Adobe, Box, GoogleSeptember 29

I think some of the work April Dunford has done in terms of the framework she lays out in her book is super practical and easy to use.

There are some good examples you can find here.  

I'm a big fan of the Content Marketing Institute and they have some great content around messaging framework you can find. This is one example.  

April Rassa
April Rassa
Product Marketing, Cohere | Formerly Adobe, Box, GoogleJanuary 18

Addressed a similar question related to Campaign teams earlier. Please refer to that response. 

In short, Product marketing is the vital work of developing a customer lifecycle journey, pricing, sales support materials, analyst relations, and press. Demand generation consumes the outputs from product marketing and injects them into marketing machinery that delivers content to prospects at scale consistently.

April Rassa
April Rassa
Product Marketing, Cohere | Formerly Adobe, Box, GoogleApril 2

When a product is in development you typically will be working on a launch plan in parallel.

These elements include:

- GTM strategy: product adoption strategy, pricing/packaging, competitive, customer playbook

- Internal enablement & comms strategy

- Sales enablement/technical enablement (product docs, training)

- External comms and planning (PR, analyst briefings, customer comms, customer testimonials, etc)

- Demand gen plan

April Rassa
April Rassa
Product Marketing, Cohere | Formerly Adobe, Box, GoogleApril 1

Captain obvious here but customers and data. Framing stories and pain points mapped to personas helps, partnering with your Product team so you're locked in the customer journey is also super helpful, so the teams recognize where the shifts muct be made.

Customer retention is the holy grail of business, and don’t you ever forget it! Without customers, you don’t have a product or business, so if you want to keep them (happy), it’s in your best interest to serve their needs.

Your customers should be the “why” behind your product vision and at the end of the day there shouldn’t be anything that goes on your roadmap that doesn’t help soothe customer pain and solve their problems. Maintaining customer focus within your roadmap also means not wasting your team’s valuable time and resources on features that will have no impact. Investing time into meticulously prioritizing your customer’s needs and coming up with real solutions to real problems is the best possible way to keep the product roadmap relevant.

April Rassa
April Rassa
Product Marketing, Cohere | Formerly Adobe, Box, GoogleSeptember 28

Messaging is the ability to communicate pains and solutions for a specific persona using the written word. PMM writing is unique because it’s all about distilling a message down to it’s essence and packaging words in a way that will be accepted by a specific group of people. A PMM should write with very little fat.

Practice writing. Test your messages with your sales team, SDRs, A/B test marketing campaigns. Listen to how your sales team pitches. Listen to how your customers talk. 

April Rassa
April Rassa
Product Marketing, Cohere | Formerly Adobe, Box, GoogleSeptember 29

When you think about your product messaging, you may start with the features and benefits the product provides. While those things do need to be defined, they should not be where you start developing your product messaging from.

Instead, your product messaging should lead with the intangible value your product provides to customers. How does your product or service improve their life? Focus on how your product impacts their experience rather than the specific functions it offers. Features and benefits can contribute to that value, but they are not the overall value of your product.

The core value of your product is the sum of all the benefits your product provides. It’s more than just the tactical solution your product can accomplish — it’s what that tactical solution is building toward in terms of overall goal attainment.

Even though your brand awareness may still be low, your product’s core value should be concise, comprehensible, not jargony and easy to connect with. Once you know what the value of your product is and who you’re trying to market it to, use that knowledge to develop your product messaging.

Your messaging should start by explaining why the prospect should buy a solution like yours. That’s conveyed through your product’s core value. Then you explain why they should buy your product specifically, which you explain by showing how your product’s features and benefits address the prospect’s pain points.

You might frame your value proposition differently depending on the personas you’re addressing. The core value shouldn’t change, but the benefits you highlight might.

April Rassa
April Rassa
Product Marketing, Cohere | Formerly Adobe, Box, GoogleApril 2

The first step is defining the customer journey and making sure your key functiona teams understand that journey. Then, recognizing that there may be stop gaps that need to be implemented to ensure customers can take advantage of the feature. What needs to happen on the delivery side of the house so CS and technical teams are enabled? How can we over communicate and document docs and materials for our teams and customers?

What kinds of enablement efforts do we need to account for to make sure customers understand the benefits?

April Rassa
April Rassa
Product Marketing, Cohere | Formerly Adobe, Box, GoogleSeptember 28

The biggest thing I see when companies develop a product, service or build a brand, is they get stuck on the “what” of the thing. What the product does? What the company does? This thing. And this thing. And this. And that’s great, but the bigger question is why? Savvy consumers/customers look past what a product does; they want to know what makes it authentic? What’s the backstory? Why should they believe in you? People are not just buying products; they are buying better versions of themselves and they want to know how it shapes their lives and their narrative.

Consumers don’t want to be sold; don’t talk at them hawking your brand message, they want something more in addition to the sales pitch. They want you to reach them on an emotional level. They want to know what’s in it for me? They want a story. Show them what your product or service will allow them to do, how it will enrich their lives.

I encourage every PMM to throw away the cookie-cutter framework that's something like: For [target customer description…]…our product is a [product category] that provides [compelling reason to buy]. Unlike [the product alternative], we have assembled [key features…]. Throw it out.

Instead you should always start by talking to the customer, but not to ask them what they love about the product etc (as valuable as this is), but to focus on what has changed in their world over the last few years and how those changes have made your services or product more valuable and a must-have. 

Start with:

- How has their world changed? What's the change?

- How is this change creating winners and losers

- What does the customer see as success -- where do they have to get to

- what's getting in their way? And, how are you getting them over those obstacles?

- what evidence do you have to prove that you can take them there?

For those of you familair with Andy Raskin, this is based on his framework, and I really like it. It's worked for me.

April Rassa
April Rassa
Product Marketing, Cohere | Formerly Adobe, Box, GoogleApril 2

Build strong relationships with your product team. The product plan presents strategic goals and initiatives spanning a long timeframe. The release plan tracks specific phases of work that lead to the deployment of functionality or a major launch. This is usually much shorter than the product plan, depending on the company’s release cycle. It is often 30, 60, or 90 days. So, having regular meetings with your Product lead will give you visibility on how the team is tracking and then sharing the action items and next steps for visibility across the teams helps keep everyone accountable. Raise flags early and often if you feel like the plan is in jeopardy. 

Credentials & Highlights
Product Marketing at Cohere
Formerly Adobe, Box, Google
Top Product Marketing Mentor List
Studied at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Lives In Bay Area, California
Hobbies include road cycling, hiking, traveling
Knows About Influencing the Product Roadmap, Stakeholder Management, Consumer Product Marketing, ...more
Speaks French and Farsi