Eileen Buenviaje Reyes

Eileen Buenviaje ReyesShare

VP, Product and Growth Marketing, 1Password
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Eileen Buenviaje Reyes
VP, Product and Growth Marketing, 1Password
Eileen Buenviaje Reyes
VP, Product and Growth Marketing, 1Password | Formerly Dropbox, SurveyMonkey, LinkedInFebruary 11

Product marketers often end up in the position of “dotted line” managers/stakeholders for many functions — design, writing, research (to name a few). What’s worked for me in the past is two-fold: 

  • Influence: For every function that feels like a “dotted line”, it’s important to build a close relationship with the leaders for those functions. This relationship enables you to freely exchange ideas, maintain alignment on priorities, operate efficiently, and set expectations between teams. If things between us go sideways, a strong relationship feels less like an escalation and more like a productive conversation. 
  • Action: For the individuals that partner closely with your team, treat them like an extension of your team. I’ve even gone so far as including them in my weekly team meetings. It gives them a ton of context, full transparency, and a regular touchpoint, so ideally priorities and plans can maintain alignment more seamlessly. 

For the specific instance of giving feedback, this is where it’s important for Product Marketing to be included in the appropriate spot in a DACI. If we’ve aligned that PMM is the approver, our feedback should carry more weight than if we’ve agreed that PMM is only consulting. In either case, how you give feedback is just as important as what you’re giving feedback about. Feedback needs to be given with empathy (“I think you did this because of [X]”), curiosity (“Why did you choose [Y]?”), and flexibility (“I think [Z], but that’s not as important as [X].”). Whether or not you have authority, you must always have respect.

Eileen Buenviaje Reyes
VP, Product and Growth Marketing, 1Password | Formerly Dropbox, SurveyMonkey, LinkedInFebruary 11

I can only speak to the change from ~1000 → 3000+. As a company grows, the number of stakeholders grows along with it. That shouldn’t be a surprise. What I’ve also learned is that as the number of stakeholders increase, so does the importance of collaboration skills, role clarity, and decision-making processes:

  • Collaboration skills: With more people to align with, product marketers need to be especially flexible, picking the right battles to fight and letting things go that may not be worth the effort.
  • Role clarity: As mentioned in some of my other answers, its important for product marketers to focus on our core responsibilities and recognize when they are on the path to “peanut-buttering”. That is a slippery slope and happens easily when functions scale unevenly across the organization.
  • Decision-making processes: A larger company means 1) there are more decisions to be made and 2) there are more stakeholders to play a role in those decisions. 
    • Types of decisions: Determine whether a decision is “Tier 1” (cannot easily be reversed) or “Tier 2” (changeable if needed). Tier 1 decisions need to go further up the organizational structure while Tier 2 decisions shouldn’t. 
    • Decision-makers: For Tier 1 and Tier 2 decisions, explicitly designating who approves versus just consults should help manage expectations across groups and enable you to still move quickly, despite the increased number of stakeholders.
Eileen Buenviaje Reyes
VP, Product and Growth Marketing, 1Password | Formerly Dropbox, SurveyMonkey, LinkedInFebruary 10

Market research is the most powerful tool for influencing product. I recommend applying your marketing skills to your internal stakeholders in the same way you use them for your externally-facing initiatives. If you have some great market insights in hand, consider these steps:

1. Understand your internal target audience: Why does product and design consider themselves as the consumer? Where are the largest differences between our internal teams and the actual customer? How do internal teams best consume information?
2. Create a messaging strategy for your insights: What are the key takeaways you want product and design to hear from customers? How can you make it crisp, clear and compelling?
3. Consider programs to bring it to life: Can you bring customers directly in front of product and design (e.g. to focus groups, on field research, etc.)? What formats (video clips, quotes, well-crafted presentations, etc.) can best communicate the customer voice?

While the tips above are great for socializing single studies and getting the culture change started, true culture change requires more systemic shifts. In the absence of company-wide initiatives, you can tap into or create regular, recurring touchpoints with customers so they can more naturally flow into the product and design process. At Dropbox, we regularly gather customer insights from the agents that field our huge volume of web chats. We also have a weekly cadence of in-person customer conversations where product teams can sign up and ask questions directly on just about anything. Like most things, the journey to being more customer-centric starts with a single step. I hope one of these ideas helps!

Eileen Buenviaje Reyes
VP, Product and Growth Marketing, 1Password | Formerly Dropbox, SurveyMonkey, LinkedInFebruary 10

There are pros and cons to any PMM reporting structure, with no perfect solution. My experience has mostly been with a PMM team that reports into a marketing leader and doesn’t report into product. In this case, an intentional effort needs to be put toward building bridges across teams. All levels of the product and marketing organization need to implement and exhibit a culture of collaboration that minimizes silos between groups. What might this look like?

  • At the top: Marketing and product leaders co-presenting in one another’s team meetings to show where and how the teams are coming together. Shared OKRs across organizations. Recognizing one another’s team for their contributions.
  • On the ground: Automatically including the product or marketing partner in your recurring stand-ups or team meetings, ignoring any arbitrary organizational divides that might exist. Bringing one another into processes as early as possible, when no pen has been put to paper. 

In the scenario where product marketing reports into product, I've observed that alignment and communication between product and product marketing comes more naturally. But the trade-off that occurs here is that product marketers lose the benefits of being closely connected with other marketers, and silos are introduced at the product-level instead. This makes “marketing the org structure” a more likely outcome since it can be more challenging to identify bigger-picture marketing synergies and opportunities.

Eileen Buenviaje Reyes
VP, Product and Growth Marketing, 1Password | Formerly Dropbox, SurveyMonkey, LinkedInFebruary 8

Of course Product Managers are wary. They don’t know what “influencing the product roadmap” might mean and everything about it signals a loss of their control and autonomy. It’s important to reframe the situation to minimize the ambiguity and negative stigma associated with it. Product Management and Product Marketing should not be a “them versus us” relationship. Instead, it’s a “we” relationship where we share the same goal of making sure the product roadmap meets the needs of the customer and business. By taking the focus off one function trying to control the other and putting the focus on the customer and the business, it can lead to more productive discussions and a healthier relationship across your teams. (Also, the question above "How can I gain influence with Product..." includes more recommendations on this topic.)

Eileen Buenviaje Reyes
VP, Product and Growth Marketing, 1Password | Formerly Dropbox, SurveyMonkey, LinkedInFebruary 8

The quarterly planning process is critical in order to set expectations up-front about what product marketing can and cannot tackle. Ideally as part of that process, each PMM leaves a bit of capacity unaccounted for (my goal would be 10-20%). This buffer should accommodate any last-minute emergencies, scope creep on the priority initiatives, and professional development.

As a rule, I don’t encourage the habit of accommodating ad-hoc requests. It’s a slippery slope that leads directly into product marketing “peanut-buttering” and being perceived as a “ticket-taking” service organization, so beware! If ad-hoc requests are becoming the norm, I recommend taking a closer look at the planning process to identify and resolve the root causes to minimize ad-hoc request creation in the first place.

Eileen Buenviaje Reyes
VP, Product and Growth Marketing, 1Password | Formerly Dropbox, SurveyMonkey, LinkedInFebruary 8

This is where DACIs (or RACIs) decision-making frameworks are critical. At a projects inception, it’s important to agree with senior executives on who the single final approver should be. Who is accountable for the success of the project (ie. whose job is on the line if it succeeds/fails)? Agreeing on the one approver in the beginning should prevent downstream conflicts.

If you are stuck in the middle, the best you can do is offer objective data for both sides of the argument and leave it up to the decision-maker to understand the trade-offs being made with the decision. (In some occasions, a “test both options” solution might also be worth considering.) 

But disagreement can and will happen. “Disagree and commit” is a very valid, and common outcome. If that’s the path you find yourself on, make sure both parties truly commit and move forward owning the decision, even if it wasn’t the one they wanted.

Eileen Buenviaje Reyes
VP, Product and Growth Marketing, 1Password | Formerly Dropbox, SurveyMonkey, LinkedInFebruary 8

First off, don’t expect it to happen quickly or by brute force. Gaining influence requires trust which can only be built over time. Start with a few small wins to establish credibility. For example, market or customer insights presented at the right time in the product development cycle can be hugely influential. Showing the value of PMM is far more powerful than telling product why they should partner with PMM.

Also important is how you partner with product. Leading with curiosity will build empathy with your product team and will allow you to better position your input for them to receive. I usually start by asking a lot of questions to get a clear understanding of the product perspective. Why have they made the decision to include XYZ in their roadmap? What alternatives were considered? How much customer input was leveraged? How do they currently perceive product marketing’s value? How have they worked (if at all) with product marketing in the past? Their answers to these questions will give product marketing a sense of how and where to get started.

Eileen Buenviaje Reyes
VP, Product and Growth Marketing, 1Password | Formerly Dropbox, SurveyMonkey, LinkedInFebruary 8

I completely agree that PMMs are highly cross-functional and often broadly scoped. The common trap I’ve seen us fall into is that of “peanut-buttering”, spreading ourselves thin over a broad range of projects. This is the slippery slope that leads to burnout quickly. The 3 things I do to combat this are:

1. Increase delegation: Especially at companies in earlier stages of growth, it is typical for product marketing to take on more than they should because other areas of marketing may not have the resourcing or because processes are undefined and product marketing has to figure it out as they go. But it is critical for PMM to not also become the full-time project manager, copywriter, market researcher, events manager, campaign strategist, etc. (That’s peanut-buttering!) Identifying these resource and process gaps early allows you to bring the right specialists (via FTEs, agencies or contractors) and clarify the critical processes so some of the non-PMM work can be delegated appropriately.


2. Identify and prioritize the highest-impact initiatives: During the quarterly/annual planning cycle, product managers usually generate a list of asks for product marketing. Product marketing should not just translate these asks into their to-do list. Instead, a product marketer needs to read between the lines of the product wishlist and scope initiatives that have maximum scale and impact. (e.g. Instead of a single narrowly scoped research study for the next milestone, should it be a broader research project to enable longer-term market opportunity assessment? Instead of a single product release announcement, should it be a bigger multi-feature launch to help customers see maximum value?) After identifying these 3-5 highest impact initiatives, PMMs need to put a very realistic “can this be done with my existing resources/budget” filter on the projects, while also leaving some headroom in their plans for the inevitable scope creep, and for regular investment in your own professional development. 


3. Explicitly highlight the tradeoffs and align with product: After identifying the initiatives you plan to prioritize, you also need to explicitly state the initiatives you are not prioritizing. (I call these projects as falling “below the cut line.”) Each PMM and product partner needs to understand and align on the trade offs required in order to do the high-priority initiatives well. Once there’s alignment on both the will-dos and won’t-dos, then each team member has a higher likelihood of minimizing peanut-buttering and maximizing impact.

Credentials & Highlights
VP, Product and Growth Marketing at 1Password
Formerly Dropbox, SurveyMonkey, LinkedIn
Top Product Marketing Mentor List
Product Marketing AMA Contributor
Lives In San Francisco Bay Area
Knows About Product Marketing Career Path, Influencing without Authority, Consumer Product Market...more