Katherine Kelly

Katherine KellyShare

Head of Product Marketing, Benchling
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Katherine Kelly
Katherine Kelly
Head of Product Marketing, Benchling | Formerly ExactTarget (Salesforce Marketing Cloud), Zendesk, Slack, SalesforceJuly 30

This is a great question that varies by company size. In a smaller company it may be appropriate to present recent wins in an all-hands from time to time. But at a medium - large company, just like all product marketing, you have to think about your audience first and then plan the message and delivery that works for each. Here are a couple of ways my team and I do this at Zendesk:

  • Regional syncs: we have monthly meetings with Sales and Marketing leaders in each region. We structure the meeting with hot discussion topics for the region at the top, recent / on-going programs, and finally heads up on major launches and programs coming over the next 3-6 months. This format means we ensure they are hearing from us regularly, but because it's a meeting we also hear from them and have a chance to answer questions and get feedback.
  • All sales: we work with our enablement team for training and updates as needed throughout the month. But every month we send a newsletter that is segmented by type of information (new launch, new content, etc) why it's relevant and what they should do with it.
  • Marketing / executive leadership: we work with product on a quarterly GTM <> Product Sync where we update on where we're at and what's planned for the coming quarter. We also do organizational quarterly business reviews which are useful for sharing achievements and learnings.
Katherine Kelly
Katherine Kelly
Head of Product Marketing, Benchling | Formerly ExactTarget (Salesforce Marketing Cloud), Zendesk, Slack, SalesforceJuly 30

When you launch as quickly and regularly as we do, as soon as possible! :)

But to be more descriptive - the goal is for these teams to have some visibility and control over planning for their workload, and for you to have all the resources you need for a launch. So I think it's helpful to look at it across a couple of horizons:

  • Annual - work with product to give people a sense of the biggest launches coming for the year, at the beginning of the year. This should be something you and product leaders can present to the whole company at a kickoff or offsite or all-hands, whatever you normally have. But it's also something you should be able to present to a marketing leadership group so they know the general shape the year will take...this is a great time to try to line up with events or other items on the calendar.
  • Biannual / Quarterly - we do our resource planning biannually, but had previously done it quarterly. Whatever you do, use this time to talk more literally about the big things coming during that planning cycle, what resources you think you'll need, what audiences you'll need to target. 
  • Kickoff - once you have the specifics of the launch, and know who will be working on it, have your kickoff meeting. We do a messaging source doc and launch plan for each of our launches, but it's ok to have the kick-off before all of this is finalized, you want people to be able to start planning for the workload so you can start with the high level and set expectations for when the detail will be available.

This is super high level because each organization is able to work at different speeds. It's important to understand the work-back schedule of your most important and longest lead-time channels, for us that's often web and/or video. So we know we need to kick off X weeks ahead if we expect to have a brand new tier one product page up, less if it's only a landing page, etc. Develop a relationship with the channel teams so you have regular check-ins and planning cycles where you can balance giving them advanced notice and setting expectations for when you'll have all the details they need. That way they aren't surprised, but also aren't spinning up before you're ready.

Katherine Kelly
Katherine Kelly
Head of Product Marketing, Benchling | Formerly ExactTarget (Salesforce Marketing Cloud), Zendesk, Slack, SalesforceJuly 30

We have partnered with our integrated campaigns team to formalize roles and responsibilites and then we actually aim to share KPIs. I think it makes us stronger to feel like we are succeeding and failing together vs being able to say Product Marketing "succeeded" in a quarter where we didn't hit our pipeline target if that makes sense.

Katherine Kelly
Katherine Kelly
Head of Product Marketing, Benchling | Formerly ExactTarget (Salesforce Marketing Cloud), Zendesk, Slack, SalesforceJuly 30

There's really no perfect way. I'm not sure if you're asking at a broader level, how do you prioritize product's needs against sales or marketing needs, or if you mean on a granular level. I think the first step is understanding what is a short-term ask vs. something that should be owned, and then lookng at your team structure and making sure that you are staffed to have owners of the key responsibilities you are signed up to. Sorry that isn't more granular but this is a question you could take a lot of directions, hope it helps!

Katherine Kelly
Katherine Kelly
Head of Product Marketing, Benchling | Formerly ExactTarget (Salesforce Marketing Cloud), Zendesk, Slack, SalesforceJuly 30

Empathy is incredibly important for stakeholder management. The more you understand what your stakeholders need, can talk to them in their language, take feedback and get better at predicting and proactively providing the information they need the more trust you will earn from them. I don't think that means you need to know how to do their job, they are the expert and your trust in their ability to do it and to be the expert on that job is one half of the relationship. But really listen to them when they describe the pain points, or understand why they ask a question rather than just jumping to answer it. It will go a long way to making you a bit more strategic in how you think about your programs and launches.

Katherine Kelly
Katherine Kelly
Head of Product Marketing, Benchling | Formerly ExactTarget (Salesforce Marketing Cloud), Zendesk, Slack, SalesforceJuly 30

One of the best alignment tools we rolled out in the last two years was a messaging source document. This document includes overview / background on the market, description of the thing we are launching or marketing, details of the audience and related personas, etc. This document can be used by various teams and is owned and kept up to date by product marketing.

Katherine Kelly
Katherine Kelly
Head of Product Marketing, Benchling | Formerly ExactTarget (Salesforce Marketing Cloud), Zendesk, Slack, SalesforceJuly 30

The best way to get yourself in the driver's seat is to know where you're going and how to get there. If you understand the needs of each of these stakeholders and can start to anticipate their questions and put that proactively in your plans and communication I think you will start to feel like you are driving vs. reacting. 

Katherine Kelly
Katherine Kelly
Head of Product Marketing, Benchling | Formerly ExactTarget (Salesforce Marketing Cloud), Zendesk, Slack, SalesforceJuly 30

Such an interesting question because I actually think it doesn't change that much. My last role was a company that was ~150 employees, Zendesk is now ~3,000 I think. In both companies, my biggest stakeholders were:

  • CEO
  • Head of Product
  • CMO
  • Head of Sales

Often it feels like the job of product marketing at the stakeholder level is to help translate between these people and their teams to keep everyone aligned. If the product marketing leadership in your team has a seat at the table with these executives it's much easier to be effective and strategic vs tactical and execution focused.

Katherine Kelly
Katherine Kelly
Head of Product Marketing, Benchling | Formerly ExactTarget (Salesforce Marketing Cloud), Zendesk, Slack, SalesforceJuly 30

I actually don't have much experience with this, I'm sorry! I wonder if you should just start rolling out / following a lightweight launch process to show-not-tell how it can help? I'm getting an error that my answer is to short so I am typing more but again, I haven't really experienced pushback on having a launch process in the past.

Katherine Kelly
Katherine Kelly
Head of Product Marketing, Benchling | Formerly ExactTarget (Salesforce Marketing Cloud), Zendesk, Slack, SalesforceMay 19

I'll tell you a few of the red flags that immediately turn me off a candidate:

1. too many "I" statements. PMM is so collaborative, so cross-functional...if you are making it sound like YOU did all this stuff on your own, either I fully doubt it, or in fact that tells me something was wrong.

2. Speaking in too many absolutes. When I ask about how you do a thing, if you respond like there's one way - that actually makes me feel like you're just quoting the textbook. I love when a candidate says "well it depends...in this scenario, I did it like this. In that scenario, I did it like that" shows me that you're connecting insight through to strategy through to execution and I'm more confident that you'll be able to apply that experience to a new situation.

Credentials & Highlights
Head of Product Marketing at Benchling
Formerly ExactTarget (Salesforce Marketing Cloud), Zendesk, Slack, Salesforce
Top Product Marketing Mentor List
Lives In Pacifica, California
Knows About Consumer Product Marketing, Product Marketing / Demand Gen Alignment, Influencing the...more