Josh Colter

Josh ColterShare

Head of Marketing, Woven
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Josh Colter
Josh Colter
Head of Marketing, WovenMay 30

Manav Khurana did a call with me years ago. He asked a lot of very good questions. The one that stopped me in my tracks was this: 

Who or What is the villain in your story?

I think about this with every new role. What's the big story here? Who is the villain for our customers? How do we help them make progress?

Josh Colter
Josh Colter
Head of Marketing, WovenMay 30

Demand gen needs a strong POV to differentiate the company in noisy channels. Content from subject matter experts can build trust while evangelizing the brand. Here are ways PMMs can participate with campaign ideas:

  • Company narrative takes based on industry/market research 
  • Customers who are succeeding with the product
  • Content from SMEs that would be useful and demonstrate credibility
Josh Colter
Josh Colter
Head of Marketing, WovenMay 30
  1. Use cases- Document how developers can use your product in different situations.See Ask Your Developer for a really good take on how important use cases are to developers.  
  2. Data- developers tend to be highly skeptical. Use empirical data and engage their "problem-solver" mind. 
  3. Memes- levity has been highly effective for Woven. Humor helps with awareness and makes Developers less resistant to marketing Messages. 
Josh Colter
Josh Colter
Head of Marketing, WovenJuly 9

Strategic advice: Combine the launch and rebrand into a single narrative. Your company rebrand should allow you to position yourself within a story where your customer is the main character and you are the impact character who helps them make progress (think customer = Luke Skywalker and you = Obi Wan Kenobi). Your product would then become the magical gift or power (ie Lightsaber for those still following the analogy) that you offer to the main character to help them along their journey.

Tactical advice: Find a couple of customers who love you and prep them to talk to media that you notify about your launch. In this way, the story shifts from your rebrand (which no one really cares about) to the story of how your customer overcame challenges thanks to your new brand and the magical gifts offered by your product launch.

Josh Colter
Josh Colter
Head of Marketing, WovenJuly 9

If your role involves writing product messaging then you should be good at writing. Writing is a necessary skill to help users understand your product and to view solving their problem through the same frame as you. 

Note that there are different forms of writing competencies. Writing short, succint headlines is different than writing long-form whitepapers. One way to segment this might be copywriting vs content writing.

Typically I would expect to see a UX person with copywriting ability to guide the user's experience within the product. The UX or PM should then be in regular communication with their product marketer, who frequnetly operates as content writer — producing release notes, sales sheets, and other relevant assets to launch.

Josh Colter
Josh Colter
Head of Marketing, WovenMarch 8

Product is comprised of people. And so it should be clear upfront that you need to start with a foundation of trust with the people in product. Take them out to coffee. Ask about what motivates them personally. What do they want to accomplish? Who do they read/follow for inspiration and growth?

OK, let's assume you've built trust by listening. Now make yourself helpful to them as a conduit to information and outside sources that help inform them. Frame your job in terms of informing product about what's going on outside the company and in sales/marketing. Note that this is informing, not influencing at this point. 

Here are a few practical tactics you can use to provide access to useful info:

  • interview customers about why they purchased and then share the notes/recording
  • create a win/loss analysis report and share high-level metrics about what features are coming up in sales conversations (good and bad)
  • read analysts reports in your market and provide a cliff-notes summary
  • monitor competitors and send any relevant feature announcements
  • record sales calls (or install sales call coaching software) so you can share specific calls 

Beware of interjecting your own opinions because if people sense you are trying to influence them then it can trigger a defense mechanism. You'll be far more effective if you can get the insights from customers, prospects, and market to shape the thinking in product. 

Remember that product is getting hit from all sides with requests and has to make tough tradeoff calls on where to spend precious time and resources. Don't become another voice in their ear asking them to listen to you. Become helpful and they'll naturally ask for more from you.

Josh Colter
Josh Colter
Head of Marketing, WovenOctober 16

Mike's answer is spot on. It's not uncommon for companies to have a poor strategy or fit within their marketplace and then expect marketing to sprinkle magical growth hacker dust on it make the problem go away. To help alleviate this trend, marketers need to do two things: be good at math and speak the truth.

 

  • Math represents Derek's response (also very insightful). Product marketing can fall into a grey, undefinied space between departments. So it's incumbant upon you to connect your actions to tangible outcomes within the business. My team affectionately calls me a "roving linebacker" because I am consistently working on the most strategic company initiatives. I accomplish this by monitoring key numbers across the entire customer journey and then systematically address weaknesses that are preventing us from reaching our goals.
  • Speak the truth involves two concepts: first, speak up. Play a strategic role rather than slipping into order-taker mode. Be respectful and assertive at the same time. You represent the customer, so don't be afraid to take a contradictory perspective. And secondly, share truth. Don't sugar coat. Be realistic with expectations. This, I believe, is why management consultants can thrive in PMM roles. They are accustomed to picking up on client expectations and delivering on them. Part of what makes someone good at this is setting the correct expectations in the first place.

 

Finally, someone who's experienced this much turnover might consider applying their analytical skills to selecting their next post. PMM is a highly collaborative role. All-star individual performers can and do fail when they are surrounded by a poor team. Conversely, mediocre performers can attain a level above their skill set when they are a great team. So choose your team wisely, employ some math, and speak the truth. Best of luck!

Josh Colter
Josh Colter
Head of Marketing, WovenSeptember 28

Apply agile sprint thinking to launches. You can do this by creating themes just like agile has a sprint (my team is moving to quarterly message themes). These themes encapsulate at a high level the features that the product team is working on.

 

This approach has a couple of benefits. First, your product folks should appreciate agile, which will make them more likely to buy in and maybe meet a few more of those deadlines. Second, you get to execute a launch with some flexibility. Communicating the aggregate of features mitigates your risk in the event that some things don't make it out in time. And then when they do make it to production you can roll them into your existing theme.

Josh Colter
Josh Colter
Head of Marketing, WovenSeptember 20

First, make a concious decision to give them respect without demanding any in return. You don't really "deal" with them. Instead, you learn to foster a healthy and productive working relationship.

 

Now, treat PMs like a customer who you have to understand so you can win over. Enter into their world. Follow them on social media and read everything they repost. Ask them what books or podcasts they would recommend. Follow through by actually reading and then reporting back to them what you thought about the content. Learn to speak their language. When we feel understood, we feel loved. 

 

Finally, be aware that we all bring baggage into situations. Sometimes a bad experience with marketing at a previous company can cause PMs to look at you through a tainted lense. If you can rebuild healthy rapport with them on a personal level, then you have opened the door to share with them how marketing provides value.

 

 

Josh Colter
Josh Colter
Head of Marketing, WovenSeptember 1

Buyer Personas should be formatted to be easily digestable and convey key insights that help teams in your org operate more effectively. The ideal format can vary by situation, organization, insights communicated, and even business model. For example, demographic info about age and gender might be helpful in B2C but is probably counterproductive noice for B2B selling. I personally use a single summary slide with 5 supporting slides. Then I linked these slide to a google doc with categorized customer quotes that equip our team with deeper insights when appropriate. I've also contemplated designing a poster of the summary to hang on our wall for a continual reminder. However, this is less useful if you operate with a distributed team. Consult Adelle Revella's book Buyer Persona's and the Buyer Persona Institute for a helpful framework when conducting and analyzing your research.

Credentials & Highlights
Head of Marketing at Woven
Lives In Indianapolis, Indiana
Knows About Building a Product Marketing Team, Messaging, Customer Research, Category Creation, G...more