Meredith Davis Shields

Meredith Davis ShieldsShare

VP, Product Marketing, LendingClub
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Meredith Davis Shields
VP, Product Marketing, LendingClubJuly 26

If PMM is a new discipline within your org chances are other teams were "covering" PMM unofficially. This could mean product managers trying to wear marketing hats or lifecycle / brand marketers pitching in to support product. My advice is to start developing a rapport with PM leadership out of the gate. Set up team norms, artifacts and practices to operationalize PMM. Look at the product - eng roadmap and create work back dates to maximize marketing impact. If PMs have been doing product marketing, it has likely been side of desk. Most of the time they will welcome your dedicated capacity and collaboration to drive home an even bigger GTM moment. Practically speaking, start setting up boundaries and RACIs so that appropriate transitions can happen to enable your new PMM team and set them up for greater success. Also! Align on creative reviewers but mostly approvers and decision makers. Standardize test, learn, optimize to take any sort of legacy subjectivity out of claims writing, creative reviews, etc. 

Meredith Davis Shields
VP, Product Marketing, LendingClubJuly 26

Chances are you will inherit a number of projects in queue Day 1. Do your best to deliver on those projects to drive results out of the gate. This will instantly help you build credibility with colleagues. That said, start thinking about a learning agenda for each of your org's big areas. At Chime we have built LAs for banking, credit, liquidity and insurance. The PMMs on my team work lock step with PM, UX, etc. to translate Chime's goals into a series of powerful initiatives twice a year. From there they set up a series of experiments and /or new feature - product launches. They work together to 1- knowledge map existing insights and data to inform the LA and 2- outline what is still left to learn. They then sequence the work. Having a formidable LA for each "vertical" really helps everyone with a single point of truth document. New opportunties, partnerships, scope will inevitably crop up. Having really solid LAs will help you more easily re-negotiate the work within each agenda and have thoughtful conversations with your partners ala, "Is [blank] now higher leverage than [blank] or do we stay the course, look for additional resourcing and capacity or backlog something else to make it happen?"

Meredith Davis Shields
VP, Product Marketing, LendingClubJuly 20

Obesessing about what our Members need from Chime (v. what Chime wants to sell to our Members). Making sure that the products (and experiences) we deliver are actually solving real problems in their lives and that we are merchandising them in a way that is simple, clear and compelling. Celebrating the moments when our products work better together to drive even bigger outcomes for our Members.

Meredith Davis Shields
VP, Product Marketing, LendingClubJuly 20

Customership. Is your team being tagged in by cross functional stakeholders to weigh in, collaborate and spar?
Are you getting asked for more support for your team to lean into big agendas in the "grooming" phase (not just GTM execution)? Are others (like PMs) advocating and helping you build the case for additional headcount YoY?
What is the relationship between the PMM and Strategy disciplines at your Company? What about Biz Dev? Are you regularly and organically connecting? If you can answer, "Yes" to these then that is an extremely strong signal that you are driving meaningful impact within your organization. If you answer, "Sometimes" to these then you likely have work to do with your partners to change the dynamic of your relationship. My advice is to work as far upstream as you can to inform the product - engineering roadmap. Use your power tools (eg. segmentation to inform product fit) and that will start opening up the aperture of PMM capabilities well beyond positioning, RTB and GTM execution.

Meredith Davis Shields
VP, Product Marketing, LendingClubJuly 20

1- Don't focus on a singular, perfect process. You may need to vary your processes depending on the intent (eg. simple feature release v. next flagship product GTM launch). 2- Get input from your stakeholders to know where process is breaking down (eg. is there too much swirl in the creative review and approval process?). You can solve for that with more in-market testing and optimization to remove the subjectivity, if so. 3- Look at all of your inititiaves collectively. Were you mostly working upstream with product owners to inform / influence R+D or were you often brought in after the product construct was locked and you're simply grabbing the baton? If the latter, figure out ways to connect earlier with stakeholders to drive greater influence around product fit, bringing in competitive insights or making connections elsewhere on other agendas to start building up trust and rapport to change the dynamic. 4- Call the ball. Be open about wanting to change the process. Get partners on board with your vision by talking through things like speed to market. Let them know its a work in progress and that you are going to try new moves, but be time bound around a solution within X weeks or months.

Meredith Davis Shields
VP, Product Marketing, LendingClubJuly 26

One of the big bets we made in PMM at Chime this year was to commission and activate a deep segmentation study. This has been a bit of a Rosetta Stone for our entire organization and has been picked up by many stakeholders cross functionally. Many of us are using this work to think deeply about product market fit with various sub segments of the market. We are looking at how might it inform future TAM expansions. This has brought our Growth, Strategy, PM , UX and PMM teams together in deep collaboration. The study has become an anchor to future strategies and has helped us validate / discredit earlier hypotheses around consumers and needs in the market. 

PMM and Strategy are really closely linked. I work daily with Corp Strat partners who are often focused on the 3+ year plan within an organization. Chime is no different in this regard. I have found -- both at Capital One and at Chime that there is a tremendous allyship with your Strat partners. Get to know them. Have coffee with them. Talk about the industry with them. Raise your hand to collaborate / have your team collaborate on special assignments. Ask questions and really set aside time to deepen your relationships with a couple of folks within the Strat team. It will be well worth it. 

Meredith Davis Shields
VP, Product Marketing, LendingClubJuly 20

Project Diversity.  Terrific PMMs can oversee a number of projects at different life stages simultaneously (incubation - insights - strategy - planning - beta / pilot - GTM). This requires great attention to detail but more importantly the ability to flex, pivot and be very nimble across initiatives. I came from a strategic planning background in the agency world and managed multiple accounts from wide spans of brands and categories. I also worked at CBS in journalism and there is nothing like the pace of a newsroom and having to react very quickly with varying degrees of information. These were two pivotal career moments that scaffolded where I am today as a PMM leader. I think having a high aptitude for change is critical. I also worry less about deep PMM experience when I am hiring someone new. I am far more interested in the individual's curiosity (eg. do they obsess over people) and their ability to tether a truth to an insight (and then ultimately a strategy). Any of these fields are stepping stones to product marketing:  insights, communications, account planning, account management, journalism, other marketing disciplines (lifecycle, performance), corporate strategy / consulting.

Meredith Davis Shields
VP, Product Marketing, LendingClubJuly 20

My first 30 days at Chime was all about team. I needed to spend a lot of time listening, observing and reviewing learning agendas to see how they think and what value they were adding to the organization. I talked to their day-to-day partners and stakeholders (across UX, PM, Creative, Insights). The next 30 days (Day 60+) was all about the app, the experience and understanding the durable competitive advantage by product in our portfolio. You cannot be a great product marketer if you are not using your app (or your product). I spent a lot of time with our PM VPs to understand their roadmaps, milestones and paths to hitting designated KRs. I studied product performance and asked a lot of questions. Finally-- and most importantly-- within 90 days is connection. I invested a lot of time in operationalizing product marketing at Chime -- setting up all of the regular touch points and systems to stay connected to the work. That meant meeting cadences, attending SteerCos, working with our PMO counterparts to start honing processes to make it easier for my team to work better and move faster. I stared deeply at org design and tweaked it to make sure we had not only coverage but fantastic scope to give PMMs runway to do the best work of their lives, to grow in role and to drive really big impact for the business.

Credentials & Highlights
VP, Product Marketing at LendingClub
Top Product Marketing Mentor List
Product Marketing AMA Contributor
Knows About Consumer Product Marketing, Product Launches, Enterprise Product Marketing, Influenci...more