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Arianna Schatzki-Mcclain

Arianna Schatzki-McclainShare

Group Manager, Product Marketing, Lyra Health
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Arianna Schatzki-Mcclain
Group Manager, Product Marketing at Lyra Health August 3

I strongly believe that every GTM strategy should start with researching and understanding the market, competitive, and buyer/prospect needs. Above, I mentioned more details about what types of data might be interesting to look at for verticle prioritization, but this list can also apply here. Combining market and more internal business data together helps inform your business case, which ideally happens and comes together before a decision is made to prioritize an offering onto the roadmap. If for whatever reason the business case step was skipped early on or not fully completed, you can still complete it. Better surface potential risks/opportunities before launch than wait and learn after the fact.   

Beyond starting with research, I recommend spending some time establishing a structure and plan to set yourself, your team, and your company up for a successful launch. This probably includes:

  • Identifying your key stakeholders and hosting a kickoff
  • Aligning on a framework/process with clear stage-gates
  • Decide how you want to communicate and share updates, will you meet weekly, bi-weekly? Is there a slack channel or will you use email?
  • Set goals and decide how you will track progress as a team
  • Align on who is the final decision maker on key decisions, who is responsible for each GTM task, who is contributing and pitching in, and who needs to stay informed. Often times the "informed" group may be executives so consider how you will share updates with your executive team. 
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Arianna Schatzki-Mcclain
Group Manager, Product Marketing at Lyra Health August 4

Across B2B and B2C companies, one of the biggest influencers in a buying decision is a happy customer. Think about it, when you go to buy something that matters to you, how often do you ask a friend who's used the product how they like it, or look for peer reviews online from trusted sources? 

Peer feedback, case studies, and references can make or break a purchase decision . Buyers want to know that they can trust you as a company and that your product will deliver what you say you will provide. Without having an existing customer or user base, the challenge of setting up a successful launch becomes much more daunting and risky. 

Instead of having customer testimonials, you'll have to get creative to find ways to build that trust:

  • Offer a free trial or free beta program 
  • Include a respected industry influencer in your launch process or as an advisor as you build your product and GTM motion
  • Find ways to include key personas and potential customers in your research process and make sure your buyers know that their voices were included in the process
  • Consider if there are other companies your buyers trust that might be open to partnering on a webinar or another channel activity
  • Spend time making sure you test your messaging and positioning with you key personas so it immediately resonates
  • If you're in the B2B space, offer to include a key prospective customer as part of your roadmap development (but be sure to set clear guardrails) and make sure they feel heard
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Arianna Schatzki-Mcclain
Group Manager, Product Marketing at Lyra Health November 30

If you don't have the opportunity to manage an entire new product launch, you'll have to get creative. See if there is an opportunity to own a specific piece of a launch someone else is managing or even manage a smaller feature launch. I'd also look for opportunities work with the product team, even if it's not on a specific launch. Big bonus points if you work with the product team on research or roadmap prioritization elements. 

Let's say none of those opportunities are available - you can still focus your time on cultivating the skills that make a great product launch PMM. Beyond the tactics, the skills and experience I look for when hiring product launch PMMs include the following and I think you can work on these in a variety of different projects:

  • Someone that really knows how to work with product teams and understands how they work
  • Can manage a broad range of stakeholders
  • Strong and bold storyteller 
  • Project management skills
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Arianna Schatzki-Mcclain
Group Manager, Product Marketing at Lyra Health November 30

Top questions depend a bit on the role since I always try to make sure each question is evaluating a specific competency tied to that job. (More on this below). That being said - here are a few questions I find useful a lot of time when hiring PMMs. 

  •  What can product marketing contribute to an organization? of What's the role of product marketing? Tells me about how they view product marketing's role and value and their general understanding of the role. I'm listening to see if them talk about GTM strategy, roadmap, and storytelling. This is particularly helpful for candidates that might be newer to the PMM role. 
  •  If I asked you to put together Messaging and Positioning for a new product today, what would your process look like? Messaging and positioning is a core PMM function. I can generally learn more about their level of experience, how structured or unstructured they are, and how data and research-oriented they tend to be based on their answer. 
  •  What kind of teams and managers enable you to do your best work and can you share an example? I want to make sure that the candidate we choose is going to thrive, so understanding what type of teams and managers enable them to be successful is important to me.
  • I tend to look for candidates that have a learning mindset and can self-reflect. To evaluate this, I might actually ask them to reflect on how the interview went or a how the presentation went towards the end of the interview time block. This way I can see if they are aware of certain gaps and how they "show their cards", which is a company value. 

In my opinion, the most useful and "top" questions are the ones that not only tell you more about the candidate but also whether or not they have the skills required for the particular role you are hiring. In order to do this, you need to have a clear idea of what the most important competencies are and where there is room for the candidate to learn on the job. I recommend putting together a matrix on what is required or nice to have for the role. Then define what "good" looks like so you are consistent, and identify a question that will help you evaluate that element. It sounds like extra work, but it's pretty quick, will probably save you time later, and will help enable a more consistent candidate experience.

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Arianna Schatzki-Mcclain
Group Manager, Product Marketing at Lyra Health November 30

Congrats on growing the team! In a two person team, you have to look at the top priorities, where you can have the biggest impact (where you are uniquely needed the most), and where each of you are strong and excited to grow. You are in the fortunate position to consider what elements of PMM you enjoy most and which ones you would be happy to delegate so don't forget it. 

If you're really not sure, try doing a quick exercise of listing out all the PMM functions you support today, new functions you may need to support in the coming months/year, and rate them by size, impact, priority, and list out internal stakeholders/collaborators. From here you can start to see patterns and how it might make sense to break up work. 

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Arianna Schatzki-Mcclain
Group Manager, Product Marketing at Lyra Health August 1

There are different motivations for launching products. For example, beyond solving a buyer problem a company could launch a product to expand TAM, retain customers, or differentiate from competitors. Based on this business objective you should determine specific goals and KPIs to ensure you are tracking towards success. This may look slightly different whether you are B2B, B2C, or B2B2C.  

That being said, there are some go-to KPIs that most product marketing care about. As PMMs, a key part of our role is finding product market fit and then communicating value to the market. When it comes to launching new products, this is when we get to find out if all the time spent on research and testing is time well spent. Will buyers/users purchase and engaging with the product?

Key metrics to consider

1. Buyer Adoption - did your buyers purchase the product? Or, if it doesn't carry an additional cost, did they adopt the new offering? Depending on the launch, you may want to segment your buyers by persona, industry, or new vs. existing customer. 

2. Engagement - is the end user utilizing the product? This one is simple, are users utilizing the product as expected and are they satisfied?

3. Market Engagement - press release engagement and corporate comms engagement (press release, social campaign, blog post etc.). 

4. Win/Loss - If the product you are launching is differentiating or intended to compete with a specific competitor, consider setting a specific win/loss goal 

Once you have your end goals set, I recommend setting some leading indicators to help you understand throughout the launch if you are on track to hit your end goals. A few examples here include email engagement on launch emails, webinar attendance for upsells, or website landing page engagement. 

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Arianna Schatzki-Mcclain
Group Manager, Product Marketing at Lyra Health November 30

As a PMM, Sales is a main stakeholder that we help support. You can think of them as a "buyer" or consumer of your work so many of the same tactics and best practices that you use to roll out communications externally can be used internally. I'll also note that I have worked with many amazing enablement teams that make this part of the PMM job so much easier, but have also been the one and only PMM in an org. that didn't have an enablement team yet so I'll try to share ideas that are helpful for both scenarios.  

  1. Launch Tiers. Just like when we launch products to buyers, we tier our internal "launches". This helps us rightsize our efforts and ensure the sales team is spending time on what's most critical and valuable. 
  2. Say it seven times. If you have an important announcement, content update, or training, make sure to over communicate across multiple channels. Here's an example of how I've approached the comms for a large update to a sales team. Email announcement from CRO, webinar update with more details, slack and email follow up, team meeting road show, required online training, office hour Q&A. 
  3. Keep it engaging. Consider the format and content. Is there an opportunity to make it more of a panel discussion or gamify it? Can you focus on using moving user stories that capture their attention? We often times have a question for the sales team every few slides to keep it engaging and change up speakers so it's not one person talking for an hour. (No one wants that.) I also recommend taking the time to prep for a sales training in the same way you would prepare for a customer webinar. Also, you're never going to cover everything so instead of packing in a million facts no one will remember in a live presentation, focus on the few things that are most important and direct sales where they are learn more in their own time. 
  4. Calendar it out. Surprises will always pop up now and then, but I would recommend putting a calendar together that outlines when you expect to have new content, training, and announcements. Then you can try to group updates into a monthly cadence or whatever makes sense for you. We have weekly GTM meetings and once a month we use that time to highlight the most important PMM updates.
  5. Tooling. We use Sales eLearning tools for onboarding as well as ongoing updates. PMM records videos on a variety of topics or we work with stakeholders throughout the org. to put together presentations that they record. We also use confluence heavily for organizing and sharing out content and updates of all types. With remote teams, all content and comms need to be early searchable anytime. 
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Arianna Schatzki-Mcclain
Group Manager, Product Marketing at Lyra Health August 1

The product launch cycle and how PMM collaborates with others throughout this process can look different at every organization. In my experience, PMM is involved early when the roadmap is being created to provide insight on market opportunity, build business cases to inform prioritization, and represent the customer's voice in roadmap decisions. Once a product has been prioritized to the roadmap, PMM is involved on a regular basis to help test early prototypes with customers, build out the GTM strategy including pricing/packaging, and put together messaging and positioning. When it comes time to launch, PMM is taking the lead on market rollout strategy and will stay involved post-launch to evaluate success and future plans. 

If stakeholders don't reach out to involve you, consider how you might be able to provide value to their process and build trust. No stakeholder likes to feel like you are inserting yourself, but they might need some help understanding where you could fit in. Offering research and following through is a good place to start. 

I absolutely recommend utilizing a framework for product launch, this gives everyone within the organization transparency into the launch process and shared language to help with communication. You can use a formal framework such as Serious Decisions or Pragmatic Institute and then customize it to your org. so it sticks. Frameworks are most useful when everyone across the entire organization uses the same one. Having an executive champion involved in your framework decision making and rollout is critical. 

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Arianna Schatzki-Mcclain
Group Manager, Product Marketing at Lyra Health August 3

Almost every launch has something unexpected arise not matter how much you plan. To me, the riskiest items are the ones that might be harder to change or adjust post-launch.

  1. Making sure there is product market fit is make or break. By that I mean, the buyer you've identified has a clear pain point and the product that was build addresses that pain point. I've seen launches across different companies struggle because a product was built before fully understanding the buyer need.
  2. Lack of alignment on decision makers can derail a launch plan. If decisions makers and decisions that have been made aren't clearly communicated, you could accidentally move forward with the wrong GTM plan without even knowing. I've used the RACI matrix structure to define rolls as well as RAPID. It's not a very sexy topic, but can be highly effective.
  3. Pricing is another risky item. If you don't properly research and test your pricing, your product could be underpriced (losing you money), overpriced (causing adoption issues), or could even have the wrong pricing model. 

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Arianna Schatzki-Mcclain
Group Manager, Product Marketing at Lyra Health November 30

It depends on a few different factors: 

  • How big is the PMM team? 
  • How are other teams (sales and product) organized?
  • What are the most important business needs and priorities?
  • What are your team members good at (if they have already been hired)?

Something else to consider is how you want to balance the type of work individuals on the team are doing. For example, many people enjoy having one or two areas of "expertise" where they are owning a project or program and can demonstrate progress over time. If this is an important element to keep the team engaged, but they are always working on small short term projects, that might be less fulfilling for them. 

Here was my experience at Lyra Health, where I was the first PMM and helped scale the team to 13+. 

  •  1 PMM - I did everything as well as covered other roles such as event marketing, customer marketing, sales enablement, and corporate marketing :) 
  •  Small team - When we first expanded the PMM team, each team member supported particular sales teams (we organized sales by account size), and on top of that, each team member was an expert on certain products. This was manageable with a smaller product suite. 
  •  Med team - As our sales team grew and our product team grew, we grew our PMM team as well. This time around, we split the team up. One PMM team (Product PMM) focused on our products and services. Each team member in this group owns certain product categories and strategic product initiatives. Another team called GTM PMM focused on continuing to align on our sales and partnership teams. We also established a market research team within PMM to support across PMM and the broader organization. 

Credentials & Highlights
Group Manager, Product Marketing at Lyra Health
Top Product Marketing Mentor List
Lives In San Francisco, California
Knows About Platform and Solutions Product Marketing, Vertical Product Marketing, Product Launche...more