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Chad Kimner

Chad KimnerShare

Product Marketing Director, AR/VR, Meta
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Chad Kimner
Product Marketing Director, AR/VR at Meta | Formerly Mozilla, LeapFrogApril 12

This partly depends on the role that PMM is expected to play, and we know that this can differ pretty dramatically from company to company, even within the same space. At Meta, we have a clear mandate - probably the clearest I've ever seen - to truly lead as GTM "captains". Leadership relies on us to lead the business, defining goals and strategies, driving cross-functional execution and shouldering accountability for all GTM execution. In an environment like this, the business goals are our goals, though of course we cascade those down across the team quarter to quarter, breaking them into more manageable, shorter-term goals that individuals can own. Will some of those goals be shared with other teams? Possibly.

I recognize that this PMM-as-"GM" model is uniuqe. In addition to core adoption metrics that PMMs commonly take on, I've found value in setting goals like:

  •  % of observed sales calls where prescribed messaging is used
  • survey's of cross-functional teams to rate quality of PMM leadership (How clear is the mission? How connected to changes in the business do you feel? How fast are decisions made? Is product getting actionable insights?)
  • Launch coverage sentiment

These are less satisfying in some ways than something like cost per lead, but they reflect the value PMM adds. 

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Chad Kimner
Product Marketing Director, AR/VR at Meta | Formerly Mozilla, LeapFrogApril 13

Starting in CPG brand management I had the good fortune to wear both of these hats (and many more!) early in my career. This ignited a love for both disciplines and started me down a path where I'd jump back and forth between them for about a decade (thanks to all my incredible managers who never forced me to choose a lane!). There are similarities in the roles - which sometimes creates confusion and tension - in the ways they focus on the end user, influence through storytelling, sweat positioning and facilitate within complex xfn environments, so it's natural for talented individuals to be curious about both jobs. 

If you really want to know which you like best, you'll have to try both. But there are proably signals available to you that don't requires such a high-cost commitment. In XFN conversations are you drawn towards technical discussion and thinking through solutions with your eng team and can you build great relationships with them? Are you obsessed with dogfooding and constantly thinking through UX optimization? Maybe you'll love PM. 

The caution I'd offer is that I've seen some of my best PMMs make this jump because they believe that Product is closer to the center of gravity or PMs are "mini-CEOs" who get to make a lot of decisions. And I've been in cultures where this kind of model is glorified, if never successfully implemented. Great PMs, in my experience excel at creating decision opportunities, not making them. They excel at bringing teams together under a shared vision, not necessarily creating that vision. 

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Chad Kimner
Product Marketing Director, AR/VR at Meta | Formerly Mozilla, LeapFrogJanuary 6

There's very little I can say that someone like April Dunford hasn't said better and I find her approach relevant across b2b (where she developed it) and b2c. The following homework is required, in my experince, to generate a high-value positioning that can drive messaging, brand, and all gtm strategy, planning and execution:

  • Hopefully, you've got some customers who really love your product and it's essential to understand what they think is so amazing about it. 
  • Understand your true competition - if these customers didn't have you to solve their problem, who would they turn to?
  • Perform an objective and very sober comparision between your product and those competitors. What is truly different and unique about your product? Think functionally here. We know how hard this can be and how much pressure there can be on us to exaggerate our differentiation. We must resist - the business needs us to be truth-tellers. 
  • Play our role as translators and describe those functional/feature differences in terms of the benefits and value they provide customers. What's the point of our differentiation? What does it enable that nothing else can?
  • Identify the segment(s) who will care about unlocking that value.
  • Help that segment understand who you are by picking a frame of reference for the category you play in that makes conceptual sense to them. Here, it's really worth just picking up Obviously Awesome for the discussion strategic choices in picking marketing categories. 

In terms of alignment, the number one thing we can do is stop saying things like "product marketing owns positioning". This doesn't help anyone. Instead, make it a team sport. When you can help everyone in the business to be a truth-teller and get everyone sharing the same set of assumptions, you'll be amazed at how much of the usual back and forth between product/sales/marketing goes away. 

Make your key stakeholders accountable to the creation and success of positioning and listen their feedback after you launch. You're most likely going to change positioning frequently and look at each change as an opportunity to build better alignment.

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Chad Kimner
Product Marketing Director, AR/VR at Meta | Formerly Mozilla, LeapFrogJanuary 22

I like this kind of question becuase so much time is spent at work getting humans to agree that we're talking about the same thing. My particular answers are less important than creating a shared lexicon with the teams you need to mind-meld with. That said, I do like precision and so here's how I parse some of these terms:

Value Proposition: This is the reason that your target audiences should choose you instead of your competition. It's the thing that you do uniquely well and it's the reason someone who lands on your site decides to learn more. Sometimes your value prop emerges so clear and forceful that you don't need to put it through rounds of wordsmithing, but more often than not you probably will. Using an example anyone who has ever seen a single TV commercial break will relate to, Geico's value prop has always looked something like: "we make it easier than anyone else to save significantly on insurance". That used to get translated a lot in their marketing to this famous copy: "15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance". Substantiating their value prop that way made it crisper and more compelling. 

Messaging: Typically an outcome of a product positioning process, I think of messaging as the step in which we identify the specific things we want to say to our audience that support that positioning. What are the compelling arguments that make your value clear relative to competitors? What are the features and benefits you need to make clear? The common confusion about messaging is whether it's the same as copywriting and in my experience, it's wise to distinguish those two steps. Messaging is the "what", copy is the "how" in our communiation approach. 

The question doesn't ask about positioning statements, though I often see that term used interchangably with value proposition. I tend to see a couple areas of daylight between the two ideas. I think a value proposition can be broader than a positioning statement that is going to define, in detail, an audience, their unique needs and the competition. 

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Chad Kimner
Product Marketing Director, AR/VR at Meta | Formerly Mozilla, LeapFrogJanuary 8

As a start-up, there really can't be any daylight between your mission, strategy and initial product manifestations. That is, your company positioning and your product positioning are the same. A disciplined, successful company will continue to invest in new products that pay into the company mission and don't require major strategy shifts in order to successfully get to market.

Of course, strategies will shift as companies and markets evolve, but innovation bets should, in my experience, be tethered pretty tightly to the purpose the company wants to play in the world. And though this sounds obvious enough, I bet most of us can tell stories about major investments in new businesses that looked too attractive to pass-up, even if they were patently off-strategy. I've never seen that work well.

So if management is sharp, the portfolio of products will make conceptual sense and play to company strengths. That makes the job of selling the portfolio easier; the portfolio positioning and the company positioning should look a lot alike. The product positioning is richer and more specific, but you should be able to see connections between each product positioning and the portfolio positioning. And once you have a portfolio positioning, I'd employ the same process to develop messaging that I use on a product level.

In terms of a process, I think what changes most from product positioning is the number of stakeholders you have to bring along for the ride, both in creating the positioning and in shipping portfolio assets. Better to find ways to bring them into the process than deal with sometimes myopic, product-centric objections that miss the point. Too many of us have probably also been tasked with back-rationalizing a portfolio message to make sense of a portfolio that was cobbled together for less than strategic reasons. I don't know that there's a right way to do that, but I think it's a good opportunity to highlight the lack of coherence and the problems it creates. 

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Chad Kimner
Product Marketing Director, AR/VR at Meta | Formerly Mozilla, LeapFrogJanuary 8

The behavioral shift in buliding a marketing team whose output is celebrated for small optimiziations occuring at scale is probalby the most important transformation a modern team can undertake. Moving away from the "6 month sprint to launch" and towards "the ongoing work of getting better at delivering the right message at the right time to the right audience in the right channel" is critical to better messaging. 

At Mozilla, our Agile transformation enabled a test/learn/adapt philosophy previously hamstrung by old fashioned approaches to launch marketing. But your team has to commit to the sustained ground game and we know how hard that can be inside a dyanmic org. You'll need a prioritization framework that can make the case for optimization of in-market work vs. starting on the next big thing; it doesn't have to be science, just defensible. And you need to have a cadence of planning where you can make frequent decisions about where to prioritize time and effort and ask each other where the best business opportunity lies. Two weeks sprints enable this quite well.  

In a Sales-driven motion, you'll generate incredible - if sometimes less numericized - insights by joining customer and prospect calls. Is sales using your messaging? If yes, how do customers respond? Hopefully, you've created a positioning and messaging process that invited sales and other stakeholders in and you should continue to invite unfiltered feedback on how your messaging is landing.

Chad Kimner
Chad Kimner
Product Marketing Director, AR/VR at Meta
Credentials & Highlights
Product Marketing Director, AR/VR at Meta
Formerly Mozilla, LeapFrog
Top Product Marketing Mentor List
Product Marketing AMA Contributor
Lives In Oakland, CA
Knows About Platform and Solutions Product Marketing, Product Launches, Go-To-Market Strategy, Me...more