Inside Product Marketing with Aurelia Solomon, Director of Product Marketing at Drift
Product Marketing is a growing role, especially among SaaS today, and experienced product marketers have tons of knowledge and advice to share with junior roles and those who want to make a career move into product marketing.
We had a very interesting talk with Aurelia Solomon, Director of Product Marketing at Drift, where she shared her career path so far, her experience at Drift, the state of Product Marketing today and some useful pieces of advice for junior product marketers.
This is Aurelia Solomon’s view of Product Marketing
How she started her career in Product Marketing
Aurelia Solomon started her career in Sales. Even though she certainly knows the feeling of being rejected in a cold call, she loves the commercial side of the business.
But it was early in her career that she wanted to make a transition to a more strategic role, taking care not only of her own revenue quota, but growing the business revenue for the entire company. And that’s how she stumbled into product marketing.
Even though she hadn’t heard about Product Marketing before, one boss introduced her to this fascinating role.
It was her first jr. PMM generalist role, supporting different processes from product launches, messaging and positioning to sales content and development. Aurelia describes this first role as a great opportunity to find out which product marketing areas she liked the most.
Since then, she has been into SaaS B2B product marketing in different industries before moving to Drift, where she now leads a team of 4.
The Product Marketing Boom
Early in Aurelia’s career, the “product marketer” role was almost unknown for most companies, but now more and more companies are realizing the value of Product Marketing.
In the era of raising startups and hundreds of new digital products, the role of a PMM stands out as the key to selling.
“You can talk to hundreds of brilliant executives, who created amazing products within small companies, but their products haven’t gone anywhere. And that’s not because it was not a good product (actually they were amazing), but it’s about how you go to market.”
Product Marketing comes help those great products to tell the story your buyers want to hear. And that’s what companies started to realize: you need to arm your Sales team with stories and value-based messaging, to explain the products in very simple terms, that resonates with the different types of people you’re selling to.
“I’m thrilled to see the uptake in product marketing. Product Marketing is a great place to be right now and will continue growing. One of the signs of this ‘boom’ is actually the difficulties to hire new PMMs: undoubtedly, it’s a hot market with a rising demand and lots of opportunities!”
B2B Product Marketing Challenges
Talking about the challenges of B2B Product Marketing, one of the first things that comes to her mind is that Product Marketing is defined differently in each company.
Depending on the company it can be a Product, Marketing or Strategy role. So, one of the first challenges would be to establish Product Marketing’s purpose and how it partners with Product and with Sales.
Aurelia has an interesting and visual concept of how Product Marketing interacts with each area: she describes it as a trio in which 3 roles, with defined goals and responsibilities have to be aligned and collaborate to get the best results.
- In the Product side, you have a PMM, a product manager and a product designer or engineer.
- In the Sales side, there’s a PMM, a Sales leader and an Enablement leader.
Another challenge she sees is timing. A lot of companies wait a little too long to hire their first PMM: they usually wait some time and onboard their first product marketer just when they are ready to start scaling.
“If companies hired a couple of PMMs earlier on (before they are in their hyper growth mode), they would actually be better prepared for success.”
The ‘fun stuff’ of being a Product Marketer
When asked about what she likes about her job, Aurelia shows her enthusiasm right away! Being a product marketer, is actually taking an amazing product and figuring out the best way to sell it.
“You do the fun stuff of making it easy to sell and tell the story so that people wanna buy it.”
And that’s what companies started to realize: you need to arm your Sales team with stories and value-based messaging, to explain the products in very simple terms, that resonates with the different type of people you’re selling to.
Another thing she really enjoys is the cross functional nature of the role.
As a product marketer you get to work with everybody across the business: from Finance to Sales, to Customer Success to Product and Engineering. And more, you interact with all levels up and down: from entry levels to executives. That makes product marketing so enriching!
A great product marketer needs to be an exceptional team player: collaborating and working as a team is part of the fun stuff as well! And as a senior product marketer, Aurelia is also a great leader and mentor, helping her team members progress in their career.
“Something that inspires me is helping folks move up in their career, grow and achieve what they are looking to do and expand their scope. Creating opportunities for my team is really motivating and important to me.”
Her experience at Drift
Aurelia joined Drift about 2 years ago as one of the first hires in Product Marketing. When looking back, she is very excited about the whole journey and the double opportunity it represented: not just for her own career, but also to build the Product Marketing role and relationships within Drift.
Her team’s accomplishments include putting together several processes and Product Marketing resources like:
- Building a product launch strategy
- Rebuilding their product messaging aligned to the value drivers
- Partnering with Product for new features requests prioritization and roadmap definition
- Partnering with Sales to create business case decks, battlecards, use cases, buyer personas
In addition, they implemented Beamer as an in-app changelog to announce not only their monthly feature releases for external and internal customer facing teams, but also to communicate major product launches.
Even though they still maintain the traditional newsletters for feature releases, Aurelia describes how important it is to make the announcements in-app. New features releases are posted in Beamer the first Wednesday of each month, and a bouncing notification will let users know there are tons of updates to check out.
“Customers interact with content in very different ways at different times. Obviously we have emails, blogs, newsletters, but they are also in the product most of the time. So, it’s important that we’re messaging them in the product and allowing them to engage how they want.”
The key of in-app announcements is making information available and easy to find for users when they want, without bothering them.
“Once the monthly release occurs, it’s very useful to check analytics, such as opens or reads, and find out how people react to new features and the feedback they provide, which we would pull directly into Slack to make it available internally.”
Top 3 pieces of advice for new PMMs
As mentioned before, one of the things Aurelia enjoys is helping younger PMMs advance in their careers.
These are her top 3 pieces of advice new product marketers should focus to succeed in their role:
- Get to know the product: You don’t need to master the technical details, but you should be able to demo your product, feel comfortable with it and understand how it works. That’s key to developing the right messaging that is going to resonate with your persona.
- Build relationships: It is critical to build relationships across the entire business, most importantly with your Product and your Sales counterparts, but also with Executives, your Customer Success team, strategy and finance.
- Get to know your customers: we’re the voice of the customer. The whole role of product marketing is bringing that lens of what your customers care about to your business. Talk to your customers to understand how they are using your product and what their pains and goals are.
In addition, make sure you are aware of the latest trends in the industry and how they are impacting on the people you sell to. This information is usually available in research reports from companies like Forrester, Gartner, IDC, McKinsey, Deloitte.
Being a successful product marketer is about communicating your product value in an easy way and leading the path to constantly improve it for your clients. Join more than 10,000 Product Marketing teams and start closing the feedback loop with Beamer.