Jeff Hardison

Jeff HardisonShare

Head of Product Marketing, Calendly
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Jeff Hardison
Jeff Hardison
Head of Product Marketing, CalendlyAugust 11

First, I try real hard to let go of my ego and temporarily forget about the past (e.g., how I worked with demand gen in another company). Every company’s marketing department is structured differently, and it’s important to quickly adapt.

Then, I try to be human and have a conversation with each demand gen person, asking how can we help them achieve their goals. Sign up for some activities to help them with some shared KPIs. Once you get some shared wins, other departments tend to start trusting you more. Then, they might allow you to weigh in on their strategy too. 

Jeff Hardison
Jeff Hardison
Head of Product Marketing, CalendlyAugust 11

This is one of my favorite topics, and I write more extensively about product-led marketing versus sales-led marketing on the Product-Led Growth Collective site: https://www.productled.org/blog/marketers-prepare-product-led-growth

The tl;dr, though: In many product-led growth (PLG) companies non-salespeople (e.g., product managers, designers, engineers, founders, etc.) helping to create the actual product have the initial greatest influence on what product marketing does. In many PLG companies, product marketers find themselves in particular helping out product managers with research, positioning/messaging, launches and adoption marketing.

In sales-led companies -- or traditional software companies -- the sales leaders have a much greater influence -- than in pure e-commerce PLG companies -- because they’re bringing in the revenue. Not some PLG e-commerce engine. In sales-led companies, the product marketer is doing everything they do in PLG -- research, positioning/messaging, launches, and adoption marketing -- and they help out the sales team with sales content, new-product training, and more.

Today's most difficult job for a product marketer, I believe, is working in a PLG company that’s going "up market" because you have three masters: product leadership (who ran the show when they only way to buy was with a credit card), sales leadership (who is trying to influence company direction to close bigger sales deals), and of course whomever your boss is. :)

Jeff Hardison
Jeff Hardison
Head of Product Marketing, CalendlyAugust 11

Growth can mean different things in different orgs. In some orgs, a growth person owns acquiring new users (with performance marketing or ads, and so forth). In other orgs, growth helps with proposing and testing different growth levers (e.g., an invite-a-friend option in-app, adding signup-for-free CTAs to collaboration opportunities such as an email a Calendly meeting invitee receives). Sometimes, growth owns the lifecycle marketing from signup to first-time user experience in app to emails and in-app messages weeks after the user signups.

Growth product marketing generally helps with one or more of the above. At InVision, I helped with all of the above.

I recommend getting your feet wet in growth PMM by offering to share a KPI with a department/staffer helping with one of the above. For example, you could go to whomever is in charge of acquiring new free users and offer to share a KPI (perhaps write social-ad copy) of theirs for the upcoming quarter. You could go to a product manager owning in-app growth levers (invite-a-friend call to action button) and offer to help with some customer research around what they're doing. Approach your email manager and offer to help test various experiments around the initial emails a new sign-up receives. 

Jeff Hardison
Jeff Hardison
Head of Product Marketing, CalendlyAugust 11

First off, I love shared KPIs between departments (particularly between product management and product marketing management)! I’m happy you’re thinking this way.

Historically, some organizations did measure product marketing qualitatively. Did XYZ department feel supported by PMM?

Or even in a “binary” fashion. Did product marketing launch the product? Did they train sales? Did they help conduct research? Yes or no?

Increasingly, though, companies are measuring product marketing more quantitatively. How much did the launch impact demand generation? How much did product marketing help increase adoption of a feature? To achieve these goals, cross-department collaboration is essential. 

What I like to do is talk to my cross-department partners (e.g., for sales, the sales-enablement leader and VPs; for marketing, demand gen leader and content/brand/PR leaders; for product, our product managers), about two weeks before a quarter starts and find out what their KPIs are. Then, where it makes sense, we offer to share certain KPIs with them. Then, we announce our shared KPIs right before the start of the quarter so we can hit the ground running for a three-month sprint (and often continuing for six months or more) to achieve the shared KPI, reporting back along the way. 

Jeff Hardison
Jeff Hardison
Head of Product Marketing, CalendlyAugust 11

I’d have to see your assignment response to make recommendations! And I probably shouldn’t print my recommendations here publicly, as this company probably wants to keep the assignment confidential. Feel free to befriend me on LinkedIn, and I'll take a look at your assignment and give you feedback. 

Jeff Hardison
Jeff Hardison
Head of Product Marketing, CalendlyAugust 11

Oh, man, big question! It really depends on the product and company. But if I have to generalize...

First, I’d try to get crystal clear on what we mean by adoption rate. Is that net-new free signups? Is that activation of those signups? Let’s say it’s it’s activation of those signups for discussion purposes.

The second thing I recommend is sign up for free (if you're PLG) for your company’s product using a burner email and record your screen going through the first-time user experience. What screens do you see? What emails do you receive in the first five days? First 30 days? What in-app messages do you receive when you return? Is someone in customer success hitting you up right away to schedule a call? Sometimes, it helps to take screenshots of everything and throw it in InVision Freehand or another whiteboarding tool to analyze the process.

Step back and think like a family member of yours who is checking out where you work. Is the experience helpful? Do the emails urge you to try the right features? What are the right features? Where’s the friction? Is the friction helpful for you the marketer, but not the customer?

Next, I dive right into Mode or Amplitude, and I start looking at the cohorts who are active. What Top 20 people are using this product? What’s their job title, what kind of company do they work for, what industry are they in? I even grab their photos from LinkedIn and create a whiteboard of them sometimes. Here’s the account's first user, the champion, the most active, etc.

I then like to interview some of these most active customers to find out why they’re active, what they like about the product, and what marketing communications, in-app experiences, and third-party content they’ve benefited from.

I’m all about focus, so I generally double-down on that cohort (say, product managers in medium-sized collaboration-software SaaS companies) and try to do more of whatever marketing tactic worked to reach their lookalikes until I exhaust that method and cohort.

Jeff Hardison
Jeff Hardison
Head of Product Marketing, CalendlyAugust 11

It's very common -- particularly in modern software companies -- for product teams to move timelines based on engineering constraints, customer feedback in the beta-testing process, and more. All product marketers wrestle with this situation. So, realize you're not alone!

I recommend explaining what's in it for the product-engineering-design team. Do they want much-anticipated recognition for and usage of the product they've toiled for so many months on? Then, let's set a date. Do they want a lot of help -- not just mention in a monthly newsletter, but also a dedicated email campaign, media-relations support, an ad campaign, etc. -- from the greater marketing department? Then, let's set a date and work back 30 days with all of those stakeholders. Do they want the customer-success leaders to stop getting upset with them for moving dates all of the time? Let's set a date. 

Jeff Hardison
Jeff Hardison
Head of Product Marketing, CalendlyAugust 11

I just say, "I really think this feature idea is really cool!" 

Just kidding.

One of my go-to tactics is compiling customer feedback about a problem or feature idea from several customers. Create a Notion document, outline the problem, and list several quotes from customers about said problem. Even better, get Gong/Chorus recordings of the customers talking about the problem to bring the issue to life. 

Jeff Hardison
Jeff Hardison
Head of Product Marketing, CalendlyAugust 11

Each quarter, our team is generally proposing helping with KPIs around:

- acquisition of new users

- activating those new users

- expanding or upgrading users (using their credit card to buy something more)

- retaining those users month over month, and year over year

- talking to sales about our Enterprise plan

How much effort we put it into each really depends on the needs of the business, but we’re generally doing something for each.

Jeff Hardison
Jeff Hardison
Head of Product Marketing, CalendlyAugust 11

Because product marketing is such a collaborative function -- we're like diplomats and glue between product-engineering-design, marketing, customer success, and sales (if you have it) -- I try to open up my "empathy reserves" for the various departments I'm going to work with.

If it's B2C, I think about product-engineering-design, customer support (dealing with thousands of tickets), and my friends in marketing.

If it's B2B, I think about all of the above plus the sales team (which is likely a newer department than the B2C ones and, therefore, they're probably struggling to get resources and having their voices heard).

Then, I think about how we're all going to work together to address the needs of these various customer segments, which often have different needs and like to be dealt with differently. 

Credentials & Highlights
Head of Product Marketing at Calendly
Top Product Marketing Mentor List
Product Marketing AMA Contributor
Lives In Portland, Oregon
Knows About Growth Product Marketing, Self-Serve Product Marketing, Establishing Product Marketin...more