Mike Polner

Mike PolnerShare

Head of Consumer Marketing, Discord
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Mike Polner
Mike Polner
Head of Consumer Marketing, Discord | Formerly Uber, Fivestars, Electronic ArtsDecember 12

This is a great question. I would zoom out and think more holistically about how to approach career advice and what I tell people looking to get into Product Marketing overall. 

I usually approach significant career transitions or moves in two-steps. Sometimes, people see the next job and say - I’m a content marketer at a startup - how do I get into PMM at Uber or Google? Sometimes you first have to get into PMM, then, you have to move over to Google or Uber in PMM. 

Same approach for B2B vs. B2C approaching in two steps. In general, I actually think great PMMs are audience agnostic, and most of the frameworks / principles are similar...Yes, there's some ramp up time, but each discipline has their own super power. 

B2B has the challenge of working indirectly through sales to get the message out, so you really need to rely on influence and creating assets that others will use, but I usually see a bit more of a growth/funnel focus from B2B folks. 

B2C PMM typically need to bias on Product + User Experience, and telling emotional and compelling stories. The best can bring both sides to the equation. If you’re in B2B now and want to move over, I would start by trying to get closer to the Product (focusing on user and customer experiences) and focus on crafting great stories. Even if you’re not launching splashy campaigns, great marketing is still great marketing.

Mike Polner
Mike Polner
Head of Consumer Marketing, Discord | Formerly Uber, Fivestars, Electronic ArtsDecember 12

I think the two you mention are solid. Thinking outside of just PMM workflows, in general PMMs need to be extremely tight with the customer and have really strong business and market context so I try to read a lot of industry (AdAge, Skift Table for Restaurants), and general business publications (NYT, WSJ, TechCrunch.) This is a question I get often, so if others have good resources, share them here!

Mike Polner
Mike Polner
Head of Consumer Marketing, Discord | Formerly Uber, Fivestars, Electronic ArtsDecember 12

I think Growth Marketing in tech is actually super applicable to Product Marketing on the consumer side. Most of the PMMs I've hired have actually come from growth / performance marketing backgrounds. I don't have any clear recommendations on courses or education apart from just taking on hard projects at work (sometimes outside your core scope if you have that flexibility) that move you closer to the product experience.

Overall, the bar that I find Growth marketers sometimes need to be mindful of is the product user experience and being able to clearly articulate the short and long-term tradeoffs of decisions. 

For example, yes, making everything FREE! will convert better and drive meaningful short-term lift, but what are the long-term implications on product and brand reputation? Do people associate the product just with deals and discounts? When economics right-size and you stop discounting, will everybody just churn? 

I think if you're a Growth or Performance marketer and you have the grasp of the short-term levers to pull to drive growth but can see the big picture, ping me on LinkedIn - we're always looking for great talent! :D

Mike Polner
Mike Polner
Head of Consumer Marketing, Discord | Formerly Uber, Fivestars, Electronic ArtsDecember 12

In my career path I've looked for a few things and created a few career principles...

1. Finding growth industries that will be more important in the next 3 - 5 years given where I see trends moving...For example, I was in AdTech in 2010 when mobile and display advertising was just starting to take off, marketing automation in 2014 as marketers were starting to get much tighter around spend, measurement, and performance and finally, marketplace-based food delivery in 2016 just as on-demand services were reaching into more and more consumers lives! I wonder what will be even more important to people's lives in the next 3 - 5 years...

2. Identifying hard, ambiguous problems - These are the problems I am most passionate about solving! Solving the hard problems will differentiate you from a career perspective. It's great if you are working on Search at Google, but that's a problem that has probably been 80% solved, and probably won't be increasingly important in the next 3 - 5 years given current trends.

3. Finding great people and great products - Uber Eats taught me the value of finding a great product and working with great people. When I first joined Eats I was absolutely blown away by how smart, motivated, and talented people were. It felt like a company I just had to join (and haven't regretted it since!) It was also a product that I thought had a ton of potential. 

Those were just a few of my principles, but whether you're at this company or that company, I recommend developing the things you're trying to optimize for, posessing the growth mindset (there's always something to learn!) and finding hard problems.

Mike Polner
Mike Polner
Head of Consumer Marketing, Discord | Formerly Uber, Fivestars, Electronic ArtsDecember 12

Great question! I think about this one a lot...First off, it’s important to callout that there is no perfect org structure :) 

In general, you have to identify what you’re optimizing towards and what structure will give you the highest chance to get there. For Eats PMM, we’ve always kept a fairly tight PMM to PM relationship, so we map PMMs directly to their Product counterparts. 

Product is broken down by audience - ie., Consumer, Restaurant, Delivery Person so we have leads within each audience and typically, sub-groups within that focus on either Growth (getting users from 0 → 1 trip), “Experience” (Ordering + Receiving Food) or Engagement + Loyalty.

Mike Polner
Mike Polner
Head of Consumer Marketing, Discord | Formerly Uber, Fivestars, Electronic ArtsDecember 12

Great question. I would first caveat that this is something we're always working on, so if you haven't figured it out yet, don't worry, goal setting, responsibilities, and KPIs are always a work in progress!

I think it's rare that in larger organizations and with significant cross-functional work there's one person or one function who owns one clear KPI. I try to think of it as a Venn Diagram. On the left is Product goals or responsibilities - overly simplifying here, but defining the product, buiding the product, measuring the product impact on the business...then on the right side is demand gen + marketing. How many downloads of a product do you get, what about awareness, consideration, intent. At what cost and efficiency do you generate those trials? 

The PMM is in the middle of the Venn Diagram. We ultimately own the outcome on the marketing end, but we will not be successful if we don't have the right demand gen programs and if we haven't built the product the right way. 

Mike Polner
Mike Polner
Head of Consumer Marketing, Discord | Formerly Uber, Fivestars, Electronic ArtsDecember 12

Love this question and something I had to do a ton when I first got to Eats and everybody was like - hold on, what is Product Marketing? 

I talk a lot about internal marketing and say you have to Product Market, Product Marketing...This starts with a very clear and differentiated articulation of our value. For example, I made it very clear from Day 1 that PMM is the primary POC to Product within the Marketing organization and built teams, hired people, and reinforced with KPIs that story. Over time, that continued to build and we eventually built up a reputation (a brand!) that we were the team that had end-to-end product launch responsibility, that we helped shape both product and marketing roadmaps, and crafted the story, messaging, and positioning of our products. 

Of course, there were a lot of challenges along the way, but find the ONE thing your team will do better than any other team - hire for it - measure it - and reinforce it. 

Mike Polner
Mike Polner
Head of Consumer Marketing, Discord | Formerly Uber, Fivestars, Electronic ArtsDecember 12

I think there has been a massive shift in just the awareness and momentum around Consumer Product Marketing overall. When I joined Eats 3 years ago as the first Consumer PMM, everybody was asking what this role was and how we were different than Brand Marketing or Performance Marketing. Not only at Uber has that changed dramatically, but also, within the industry there has been a really evolution of folks who would traditionally be in "Brand Management" roles at CPG companies starting to move into PMM roles at tech companies. I think there are a lot of similiarities between those two actually. 

As more and more industries and companies continue evolving to be "tech" companies, I really expect to continue seeing a lot of growth in Product Marketing as a function. The industry needs a lot more people who can think both analytically and creatively, bringing the user into all our decisions, and these are PMMs! Really optimistic about the long-term prospects for PMM and Consumer PMM in particular.

Mike Polner
Mike Polner
Head of Consumer Marketing, Discord | Formerly Uber, Fivestars, Electronic ArtsDecember 12

I touched on this a bit above - I started my career in B2B and learned really valuable lessons before moving more deeply into B2C. 

I think Marketing is evolving so quickly that you can learn extremely valuable skills in either the B2B or the B2C world that are applicable across both, so wouldn't say strictly focusing on just one for the next 10-years is absolutely the right (or wrong choice.) It's more the growth mindset and defining and understanding what your career goals and ambitions are. 

When hiring somebody, it's extremely context specific. For a Consumer Growth PMM for example, having done some serious lead generation on the B2B side and having an extremely deep knowledge of funnels and growth levers would absolutely be applicable as long as you also clear the bar on the consumer basics - product and user intuition. 

Conversely, if we're looking for a Restaurant Experience PMM who's primary responsibility will be defining the overarching narrative and differentiating our business, I wouldn't exclude a consumer focused marketer who has had success building brands and launching integrated campaigns.

Mike Polner
Mike Polner
Head of Consumer Marketing, Discord | Formerly Uber, Fivestars, Electronic ArtsDecember 12

In general, I don't really think "background" is that important. To me, background does not = skills. I hire for signal on skill and not for whether or not somebody has done something before. 

We have some absolutely incredible PMMs on Eats and almost all of them came from a background that was not Product Marketing. 

Because the function and the role is growing so quickly, you rarely find somebody who's spent 5 years in Consumer PMM for example. Instead, hone your skills. 

Uncover great insights, run a bunch of research and get really good at understanding customers, competition and category context...Sometimes, folks coming from Support have some of the best insights here because they've had so much interaction with customers.

Practice crafting great stories. Build decks (personally, my favorite way to articulate an internal story) or get your hands into part of the launch process. You don't need to be leading fully integrated GTMs, but at least see what they are and how they work. All those are nice leading ways to start building and developing skills that are applicable to PMM.

Credentials & Highlights
Head of Consumer Marketing at Discord
Formerly Uber, Fivestars, Electronic Arts
Top Product Marketing Mentor List
Product Marketing AMA Contributor
Lives In San Francisco, CA
Knows About Release Marketing, Product Launches, Market Research, Competitive Positioning, Messag...more