Sharadhi (Gadagkar) Patel

Sharadhi (Gadagkar) PatelShare

Director, Product and Solutions Marketing, Hopin
Sharadhi (Gadagkar) Patel
Director, Product and Solutions Marketing, HopinJune 1

One of the best pieces of advice I got before joining Hopin, was to take the necessary time I needed to be a "sponge" and let things soak in, before going straight into "solve-mode". Of course, that's easier said than done :) 

When joining any startup as the first product marketer, you'll be getting requests from every angle from week 1(and sometimes before you even start!) - and that's especially true with PMM, because it is such a cross-functional role. This is what I've found to be helpful: 

30 days: understand both the tangible and intangible working cultures of the company. How are decision made? Who are your main stakeholders? What is top of mind for each of them, and where is there overlap? Also use this time to develop your own "Product Marketing Charter" to do a bit of a roadshow and help others understand your mission and responsibilities (remember, PMM is still a fairly new concept for many!) 

60 days: identify some quick win projects to start building your brand and help the company start to understand the value of PMM (develop sales one-pagers, put in a better release process, start tiering your feature releases, etc...) Also take this time to identify the tools and resources you need in order to do your job successfully. 

90 days: by the 90 day mark at most startups, you're on OG! Embrace that feeling and remember that more likely than not, no one at the company knows more about product marketing than you do. Present your big ideas and long-term plans to your stakeholders, and see what resonates to help you prioritize where to execute first. This is also a great time to ask for any additional resources or headcount you need in order to do your job successfully. 

Sharadhi (Gadagkar) Patel
Director, Product and Solutions Marketing, HopinJune 1

This is a great question, and one that I ask most of the candidates I interview at some point in the process. The kinds of materials I like to see are dependent on the job they’re being hired for, but generally speaking pitch decks, sales one-pagers, competitive battlecards, messaging docs, launch strategies, buyer personas - these are all helpful bodies of work to share with your PMM hiring manager.

If you’re brand new to Product Marketing or even Marketing in general, don’t feel shy about making that known to your hiring manager when sending work samples. Lots of candidates transition to Product Marketing via customer success, sales engineering or even product management. In this case, relevant work examples to include would be any customer facing presentations, custom demos, market or buyer research, or really any body of work that showcases your expertise in either the product or understanding of your customer.

Sharadhi (Gadagkar) Patel
Director, Product and Solutions Marketing, HopinJune 1

As mentioned before, product marketing is one of the most cross-functional roles of any in most companies. And as such, you’ll be getting requests for projects and deliverables from every angle. The first thing I try to understand is: what responsibilities fall under me vs. another team (ie: is there a separate pricing team? Enablement team? Market research team?)

Once my purview is clear, I put together a Product Marketing Charter (my PMM mission, PMM pillars, responsibilities under each pillar) to share with my stakeholders, to help structure our conversations around what is top of mind for them and where they need support. I like to create a table of all these requests, the stakeholders who have requested them, and understand the effort level of each request. More often than not, you’ll start to see overlapping requests or challenges across multiple teams. That’s where I like to focus first, to help make the biggest impact with the limited time or resources I have.

Sharadhi (Gadagkar) Patel
Director, Product and Solutions Marketing, HopinJune 1

An A+ product launch example to me includes the following characteristics or elements:
What stage of the product launch the candidate was involved in. 

1. Clear delineation between the PMM and PM’s responsibilities for the product launch and where there was overlap.
2. Examples of cross functional alignment between product, marketing, and the GTM teams.
3. An example of something that didn’t go according to plan during the launch and how the candidate overcame it.
4. An out of the box marketing activity or tactic that was used that helped make this launch stand out.
5. Why the candidate felt this launch was successful and why it stood out to them.
6. The ability to tell this product launch story in a clear, concise and compelling way.

Sharadhi (Gadagkar) Patel
Director, Product and Solutions Marketing, HopinJune 1

One of my favorite parts of being a Product Marketer is that a lot of the work that we do is highly visible and can affect completely different parts of the organization. For example: buyer personas of course help sales sell your product, but they also help your engineering team figure out who they’re actually building the product for. Or competitive landscapes - this is a project that everyone at the company from your IT team to HR to Leadership is hungry for - everyone wants to know where you stand against the competition!

All of this to say, use this unique aspect of our function to make your work visible across the company and help build your product marketing team’s brand. Figure out existing communication platforms to plug into, like newsletters or all-hands, but also figure out the right cadence and methods to update key stakeholders on a more one-off basis. I’ve found dropping into team meetings on a monthly basis, monthly or bi-weekly 1:1s with your key stakeholders, roundup posts on slack or chatter, and even short loom videos work well - especially in a remote environment. When doing any of this, it’s important to make sure you’re not only promoting what you’ve produced or achieved as a product marketing team, but also why others in the company should care and how they can benefit from the work you’re doing.

Sharadhi (Gadagkar) Patel
Director, Product and Solutions Marketing, HopinJune 1

Absolutely! While there are probably several key metrics to what makes a successful Product Marketing team, there are so many different paths to getting there based on a number of factors that are oftentimes not in our control. This, combined with the fact that Product Marketing is still very much being defined, makes strong intuition one of the most important skills a Product Marketer should have, in my opinion.

As PMMs, we’re often asked to make decisions without all of the necessary data, changing priorities, and oftentime too many cooks in the kitchen :) In these situations, I’ve seen the most successful product marketers lean on their intuition to help come to a decision, rally others around that decision, and continue moving forward.

Sharadhi (Gadagkar) Patel
Director, Product and Solutions Marketing, HopinJune 1

There’s probably a thousand different combinations of answers to this question, depending on who you ask. I’ve seen incredibly successful PMMs come from all sorts of backgrounds - everything from engineering, to education, to real-estate backgrounds, and everything in between. However, I think there are 3 common skills that I’ve seen across the most successful PMMs I know: 

1. Empathy and understanding of your customer base and what they want.
2. Excitement and a deep knowledge of your product and the space you play in.
3. The ability to tell a compelling story to not only your market, but also across your many different internal stakeholders. 

If you can demonstrate your expertise in any of these areas based on your previous experience, that will help open the door to PMM interviews, even if you don't have direct PMM experience in the past . Also worth noting is make those skills apparent on your resume, LI, etc...and be clear about why you're looking to shift your career and how your previous experience will benefit the team. 

It’s rare to have mastered all 3 of the above skills, but in my opinion, this should be the north star(s) for every successful PMM. And lucky for us, there are plenty of roads to actually get there. 

Sharadhi (Gadagkar) Patel
Director, Product and Solutions Marketing, HopinJune 1

Product Marketing has so many different specialties that it’s almost impossible to be a master of all of them. My advice is to pick a product marketing swimlane and develop a strategy or project that you can completely own and run with. This way, you become the go-to person at the company for messaging, or competitive intelligence, or solutions marketing, or product launches, develop an expertise in this area, gain credibility, and can then make the case for higher visibility projects, more resources, headcount, and so on. Even better if that project or strategy is highly visible and requires you to work across different functions of the company. I’ve found this to be especially true at startups.

The other piece of advice I have in this area is to join a network and community of PMMs. PMM is still a fairly new function at many companies and we’re all defining this role together. I’ve gotten a wealth of inspiration and knowledge from listening to PMM podcasts, looking through other AMAs, throwing out questions in PMM slack groups - all of which have led me to feel like I’m learning and growing in my PMM career.

Video: PMM Interviews with Hopin's Head of Product Marketing, Sharadhi Patel
Credentials & Highlights
Director, Product and Solutions Marketing at Hopin
Top Product Marketing Mentor List
Product Marketing AMA Contributor
Lives In San Francisco, CA
Knows About Consumer Product Marketing, SMB Product Marketing, Enterprise Product Marketing, Infl...more