Kevin Wu

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Head of Solution & Category Product Marketing, Airtable
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Kevin Wu
Kevin Wu
Head of Solution & Category Product Marketing, Airtable
Kevin Wu
Kevin Wu
Head of Solution & Category Product Marketing, AirtableMarch 2

PMMs should be responsible for KPIs that bring users and customers to the product and through onboarding and activation. Are the materials provided to educate a user leading to activation? Is the onboarding experience good? Are experiments leading to intended results? Once the user has activated, PMs should be responsible for owning long-term adoption of specific feature areas. At some point, sending more emails to remind users that certain features exist just won't cut it. If the feature isn't solving a real business problem, that's a problem with the product.

Kevin Wu
Kevin Wu
Head of Solution & Category Product Marketing, AirtableMarch 2

Stakeholder management is an important skill of all PMMs. If you're actively driving an important program or initiative, there are a few tactics you can try out.

1. Organize, structure, and lead regular "cadence meetings" - For cross-functional initiatives, people often don't want to volunteer to be the program manager. If you're willing to put in the work and set up the calendar invites, manage the agenda, run the meetings effectively, and foster healthy participation and collaboration - you'll dramatically increase your influence. These are opportunities to speak up and share ideas. Not an easy thing to do.

2. Reporting - Every important project will require some level of reporting. If you provide transparency at the right level and offer consistent reports on a regular cadence, you can surface issues early and gain visibility. Again, reporting is not often seen as a fun thing to do.

3. 1:1s - You may get shot down but it doesn't hurt to set up a monthly or quarterly 1:1 with senior leaders to get feedback and mentorship. It's not a daily tactic but if you rotate through key senior stakeholders you'll build rapport over time.

4. Customer feedback - There's feature feedback that will come through the software but that doesn't capture customer feedback at the sales level. Sales teams often struggle to collate and prioritize feedback on why they lost a deal. As PMMs, you can help make this a regular report back to the leadership team with ACV numbers attached. Hugely influential.

The other effective thing you can do is deeply understand your persona, solution, product, market, industry - whatever. Become a subject matter expert (SME). Be the person people come to for insights and expertise. There's no quick fix for this. You have to be willing to put in the time to study the market, talk to experts, talk to customers, and get close to the sales team.

Kevin Wu
Kevin Wu
Head of Solution & Category Product Marketing, AirtableMarch 2

Good Product Marketing OKRs really depend on the business and what the company is trying to achieve. For example, if there's no unified launch process, you may set an objective to develop a launch program. Or another example: you're starting to lose deals to a specific competitor. You may kick off a competitive program to mitigate losses on competitive deals. It really depends on the business.

For product launches:

  • Did I reach my intended audience for this launch? How many people engaged with our launch materials? Read the blog post? Watched the video? Engaged with the landing page?
  • How many existing customers adopted the new feature or product within a reasonable amount of time?
  • Were we expecting a certain amount of leads or pipeline from the launch?
  • Did we brief the analyst community properly?
  • Is our sales team enabled on what's new and why customers should care?

For campaigns:

  • Content delivery
  • Gated content downloads
  • Webinar registrations and number of viewers
  • Lead flow

For sales enablement:

  • What % of reps are certified on the pitch and demo?
  • What % of reps have gone through persona training?
Kevin Wu
Kevin Wu
Head of Solution & Category Product Marketing, AirtableFebruary 28

We use OKRs at Airtable and we align OKRs from the top to bottom with an app built on Airtable (of course). Every PMM works on objectives that ladder up to marketing OKRs which in turn ladder up to corporate OKRs. Pretty standard stuff and we find that it works well for us. Not every company works this way though. Salesforce famously uses a method called the V2MOM which is more complex but is similar in spirit.

Key results, in aggregate, should indicate whether or not the objective was achieved.

Kevin Wu
Kevin Wu
Head of Solution & Category Product Marketing, AirtableFebruary 28

Airtable grows quickly within the enterprise via word of mouth and through natural viral growth. When a team builds a solution on top of Airtable, other teams learn about it and realize they can solve their problems too. If you're asking about standard marketing channels we've seen success in the community, via paid ads (FB + LinkedIn), and of course SEO/SEM.

Kevin Wu
Kevin Wu
Head of Solution & Category Product Marketing, AirtableFebruary 28

I see PM and PMM as different sides of the same coin. PMs face engineering, design, and research while PMMs face marketing, sales, and success. PMs are responsible for solving a customer’s problems in a delightful way and owning the roadmap. PMMs are responsible for taking products to market and driving awareness and acquisition. The two roles intersect on product launches.

The truth is, many of the skills required are highly transferrable. PM and PMM are both roles that work through influence and not authority. PMs don’t directly manage their engineers and PMMs don’t directly manage demand gen teams.

When I build PM or PMM teams, I look for similar qualities: strategy, execution, partnership, empathy, communication, track record, coachability, character, and intelligence. PM interviews will often focus on case-style interview questions and have candidates explain strategic trade-offs. PMM interviews will often require candidates to build a presentation and deliver it to a group.

The one thing I enjoyed about being a PM is that they have an advantage with sales from day one. Salespeople are nicer to PMs because they want certain features to make it onto the roadmap. Salespeople also want PMs to sit in on their sales meetings and talk to customers. On the other hand, PMMs can sometimes be the punching bag for sales. It just comes with the territory.

Kevin Wu
Kevin Wu
Head of Solution & Category Product Marketing, AirtableFebruary 28

I agree with this statement. Sometimes when I look at PMM resumes that say something like “Increased sales pipeline by 30%” or “Increased product adoption by 15%”, I’m often skeptical because how much credit can a PMM really take? Did you write all the content? Did you do all the work on campaigns, ads, paid performance, SEO, SEM, digital, video, webinars, and webpages?

PMMs operate through influence, not authority. We’re the strategic center of marketing—defining the strategy, personas, messaging, and execution. That being said, let’s at least start with the stuff we can take credit for:

  • Personas - How well are the personas defined and how well does the marketing and sales org understand these personas? What research has been conducted? Which documents can we point to?
  • Messaging - Good messaging is highly subjective but the key here is ensuring all messaging has been vetted by sales, customers, and internal experts. Is the messaging easily consumed by other stakeholders like content marketers?
  • Sales enablement - If you’re B2B, PMMs are directly responsible for enabling the field on the market, competition, product positioning, messaging, pitches, and demos. Of course, this is all influenced pipeline but is the foundation there? If it’s not, you’ve got work to do.
  • Campaign strategy - PMMs should be shaping and directing the themes of campaigns throughout the year and educating the marketing org on why a certain kind of campaign is needed. Campaign runners are responsible for driving those campaigns in market.
  • Product launches - PMMs are often the quarterback for launches. How many launches can be accomplished per year? How organized are these launches? Are they reaching their target audience? Was the launch able to drive the expected amount of product adoption?
  • Analyst briefings & thought leadership - Just keeping analysts informed and up-to-date is critically important for the business. Spearheading a Gartner MQ is a ton of work. Did you develop thought leadership themes with the comms team?
  • Events - Supporting user conferences, tradeshows, and keynotes. How many field events did you support?

There's a lot I missed. Some of the above can be measured quantitatively but most are qualitative. If you take a step back, I would say a PMM can tie themselves to the holistic movement of core KPIs quarter-over-quarter. If you’re doing your job right, you should be able to claim influence on sign-ups, activation, pipeline, and close rates QoQ.

Kevin Wu
Kevin Wu
Head of Solution & Category Product Marketing, AirtableFebruary 28

This depends on the industry, segment, and target buyer. When I was at AppDynamics marketing application performance monitoring to IT Ops teams, the land could take up to 3-6 months and the expand could take 6-12 months depending on the size of deal.

At Airtable, there’s a lot more variability because we sell into so many functions (marketing, product, IT, HR, finance, legal, etc). Generally speaking, the more tech-forward departments like marketing, product, and IT will buy more quickly than say finance and legal. Most land deals will close in quarter.

Kevin Wu
Kevin Wu
Head of Solution & Category Product Marketing, AirtableFebruary 28

This is a big question! I’m assuming we’re talking about new product positioning vs re-positioning an existing product. If you’re working on a mature product, it will be very difficult to change the position of that product in the market.

For a new product, I would research and consider the following perspectives:

  • Company vision, narrative, and category - What is the vision for the company? What’s the narrative? Is there a category you’re trying to create or win? How does this product fit into the story of the business?
  • Product-market fit - What does the product actually do? What are its key features? What are the use cases? Who is it for? Are the personas known? What does this product do that is 10x better than the next best alternative?
  • Competitive positioning - What are the competing products in the space? What are these competing products good at? Is there white space where your product can wedge itself into the market?
  • Adjacent offerings and services - Does this product interact with an existing suite of products? Does it come with professional services?
  • Ecosystem - How does this product engage partners within your ecosystem? Why should your partners care?

Once you’e done this research, it’s time to put on your Geoffrey Moore hat and build a few 2x2s where you choose the x-axis (key benefit) and y-axis (key differentiation) such that your product is farthest in the upper right corner vs the competition. By this point you should have a pretty good sense of how you might position the product. Draft up some positioning statements and start testing them with sales, with customers, and with analysts.

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Head of Solution & Category Product Marketing at Airtable
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Product Marketing AMA Contributor
Lives In San Francisco, CA
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