5 Misconceptions About Product Marketing

I joined the product marketing team at HubSpot back in October 2013. It has been nothing short of incredible. I’m constantly learning from the people around me and the projects I’m assigned. In short: I’m extremely happy with my career change.

But the more I work in product marketing, the more I see that a lot of people are unsure what product marketers do or have misconceptions about the role. Well for anyone considering a career in product marketing, I am here to call out some of the misconceptions or inaccuracies that are spread about product marketing.

1) Product marketers don’t care about leads.

Now I think it’s important for me to clarify this previous statement. Not everything we do is with the goal of generating leads. Sure, some marketers only goal is to generate leads through their work, and they will not take on a project unless the end result is generating leads. That’s not how it is with product marketing. But at the same time, if something we are working on can be slightly altered to generate leads, then we will take that opportunity.

For example, my team at HubSpot is very focused on creating materials for our customers. However, some of these materials make great lead gen offers as well. A colleague of mine created a workbook designed to help customers use our social media tools. The was product specific information designed to help them not just understand social media in general but understand how to adopt our social media tools specifically. She then created a version of this workbook for lead gen, removing some of those product specific mentions. And voilà!  She had created an offer for lead generation.

So it’s definitely not ALL about lead generation, but we do care about helping the rest of the marketing team generate leads.

2) Product marketing is not data driven.

I’m a bit of a data geek. I LOVE looking at data, creating pivot tables, using VLOOKUPs to help my analysis…basically anything to have data to back up my work. Even I admit that going into the product marketing role, I was unsure how much data I would have to show the success (or failure) of my campaigns or even measure myself month over month. I was COMPLETELY wrong.

Product marketing is more than just creating product positioning and materials. Whenever we create a campaign, we use data to back up our decisions, and we measure every part of the campaign.

In January I ran a 30 Day Blog Challenge campaign. The goal of this campaign was to challenge the public to blog more in January as a way to increase their blog visitors and leads. Seems like something difficult to measure, right? But I wouldn’t have started the campaign without a way to measure it’s success.

A few of the metrics I looked at were traffic to the blog posts promoting the challenge, social media traffic about the hashtag #blogfor30, the number of people who signed up for the challenge (split up into customers and non-customers), and how many customers who weren’t blogging before starting to during this month. Even if you are just tracking traffic to your page, there’s a way to measure your success. (Also, for a shout-out to #1, I took a look at how many leads I generated from my blog posts).

3) Product marketers don’t understand how to run a regular marketing campaign.

Product marketers are not regularly running campaigns that impact the marketing funnel. However, that doesn’t mean that we don’t understand or have experience running marketing campaigns that are similar to marketing campaigns that funnel marketers use to generate leads.

My current goals are around product adoption and driving usage of the various tools within the HubSpot product. When I approach a campaign to drive product usage, I run a campaign that has parts that are pretty similar to a lead gen campaign.

One of the ways we drive usage of the tools is through customer adoption. Instead of prospects or website visitors being the target audience to generate leads, customers are my target audience. I create content specific for our customers with the goal of helping them use a tool. How we approach this depends on the importance of the campaign. But the channels we use are pretty similar to other marketing campaigns. We take a look at the impact social, email, paid, offers, etc. can have and then decide which channels to use. The rest…well just imagine a regular marketing campaign!

4) Product marketers don’t provide product feedback.

Product marketers act as a liaison between the product team and all of the stakeholders (customers, sales, services, etc.). Part of that responsibility is being the voice for the customer and really understanding what customers struggle with, what features they want to have, and what problems they are faced with on a regular basis that could be solved by the product. The aspect of that responsibility that may sometimes be overlooked is replicating the struggles of the customer and providing that feedback to the product team.

At HubSpot we are in a unique situation. I’m a marketing working at a marketing software company. Pretty cool, right? So not only can I provide product feedback from the perspective of the customer, but I can provide feedback from the perspective of an actual marketer using the software. Yes, product marketers work with the product team to launch products, but we also have a voice to provide product feedback.

5) Product marketers aren’t actually “marketers.”

Product marketers are in this unique position straddling the product team and the marketing team. We work extremely closely with the product team (and at HubSpot even sit with them!) but are also engrained with the core marketing team. So where do we really belong?

Different companies have different answers to that question. Sometimes the product marketing role is rolled up into the product management role. Sometimes it is completely separate. Your company’s structure and priorities should help you figure out where your product marketing team should belong.

But at the end of the day remember that product marketers are running marketing campaigns based on product launches, product adoption, or another goal they may be focused on at your company. At the end of the day, product marketers are just that…marketers.

What do you think I missed? What questions do you have about product marketing?

The Art of Storytelling

A couple weeks ago I attended an Intelligent.ly class lead by Adam Sigel of Aereo. We walked through the necessary elements of storytelling and how to do it for some of the projects we were currently working on. I’ll take you through the parts of his presentation.

Part 1: Product Video

One company who is fantastic at storytelling is Google. We started off the class with one of their product videos, Parisian Love.

There are two things that make this video so powerful. The first is empathy. You feel a connection to the people in the video. You begin to care about them and what happens to them. Being able to get this emotion out of the viewer is valuable for both customer and business owner. Takeaway: The secret to every business is understanding what other people think so you can make them feeling something.

The second thing is distress. Stories have challenges, problems, and things going wrong before they are fixed. It is there stories and these complications that really make you pay attention.

Part 2: Big Idea

The Big Idea is the underlying message of everything you are saying and delivering (even if you do not verbally say it). There are 3 parts that make up the Big Idea:

  1. Unique Perspective – you need to have an opinion on something.
  2. Set the Stakes – What will happen for the main character of the story? This part makes people care more and sets boundaries for the scope of the problem.
  3. One sentence – Take the unique perspective and stakes you are setting, and put it into one sentence.

Nancy Duarte speaks about the Big Idea pretty frequently. In her Harvard Business Review article, she said:

Spell out the big idea: Your primary filter should be what I call your big idea: the one key message you must communicate. Everything in your presentation should support that message. The big idea is what compels the people in the room to change their thinking or behavior — and that’s the whole reason you’re presenting to them in the first place. It’s shaped by your point of view and what’s at stake (that is, why the audience should embrace your perspective)

Part 3: Elements of Storytelling

I encourage you to look through the slides especially for this part. The slides use Star Wars as an example to really understand the different elements of storytelling.

First, we have the heroes & mentors. At first you may think businesses are the heroes, but customers are actually the heroes. Businesses are the mentors. Everything we as marketers do should be keeping this in mind and asking ourselves the question, “How can we help the hero/our customers?” It is important to solve for the customer.

Next, define the journey. In business, there will always be competition. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it also shouldn’t be ignored. You will always have competition, and you simply have to address it.

Next, the call to adventure. Treat the first time a user uses your product or service as an exciting adventure. You can do this through a video, slogan, or other channels.

Next, enemies and allies. These are the other people you meet along the way. When you go on an adventure to use an app or service, there will be other people there competing for the service but also other people you can potentially partner with. Pretending you are the only business in an industry is just unrealistic. You need to be prepared for the research your prospects will do even before you enter into discussions with them. They will have information about you as well as some of your competitors.

Anticipate resistance. You have to win over your customers. They may not realize the benefit of your product or service. They may not even realize that they need it. It is your job to foresee that and plan how to overcome it.

Define the reward. This is where you make the promise for your product, service, or app. A reward is not necessarily what you will save. For some customers that will work, but other customers don’t care as much about that. People buy products and services for very different reasons.

Takeaway: Your product is the adventure that your users have been waiting for.

Recap

  1. All emotions boil down to pleasure and pain (Nancy Duarte). What pleasure can you create with your product? What pain can you avoid with your product?
  2. Big Idea = Point of View + “so what” all in one sentence
  3. Three things that drive people – autonomy, competence, and relatedness
  4. The best products are easy to use, social, and you know what’s happening.

Read the Slides!

For those who want to check out his slides from this presentation, they are below. I would really encourage you to do this as you will get a better sense of the takeaways by doing just that.

10 Things You Are Going to Forget For Your Next Event

As I have worked on more and more events, I have realized there are a bunch of small things that anyone who does not regularly work on events will forget to do or not realize they have to do. Even for someone who works on events frequently, there are a bunch of things that may fall to the back of my mind. Over time, I have learned (somewhat the hard way) to make sure they do not slip through the cracks. But for all of you who are first-time event planners, let’s go over some things that you will be grateful you know before your next event.

1) Ask the printer to put your name badges in alphabetical order. You may think this is really silly, but imagine if you received hundreds of name badges that you pre-printed, and they were completely mixed up. It doesn’t matter if you alphabetized them before you sent them to the printer. You MUST ask for them to be that way when they are delivered.

2) Put signage everywhere – including the really obvious locations. As the event planner, you know your conference better than anyone. You know the short cuts to get from one room to the other. You could basically go from session to session in your sleep if you had to. But for most people, it may be the first time in a particular venue, and you need to put signage EVERYWHERE. That means on multiple floors, at the top and bottom of the escalators, near the elevators, and outside of doors. Do a walk through of the venue, and put signs along every path along the route. You may think it is overkill, and that means that you put the correct amount of signage.

Signage at HubSpot Event (Photo Credit: Zac Wolf)

Signage at HubSpot Event (Photo Credit: Zac Wolf)

3) Order giveaways weeks in advance to avoid rush charges. Events get expensive. We know that. So avoid paying extra fees as much as you can. Even though there may be more important things to think about then what giveaway you are going to give out, think about it as soon as possible because it takes a lot of time to order materials and personalize them. Leave yourself at least 3 weeks for basic giveaways, and even more time if they are a bit more unique (you never know what is only produced internationally!)

4) Get on people’s schedules as soon as you can. Everyone’s schedule books up fast. And not everyone can rearrange their schedule because of an event. Do you need your executives on the event? Book them first because executives often cannot rearrange their schedules last minute. Do you need assistance from other people in your company to setup or breakdown? Make sure you block off their schedules. Do you need to set up information sessions to inform your company about the event? Get on their calendars a few weeks in advance too!

5) Ask the hotel or venue if you can set up early and test EVERYTHING. Sometimes a venue will let you in early if they do not have another event blocked off the day/night before. Setting up the night before (or the day before if you are lucky) will allow you to fix a lot of mistakes that may not be fixable when your event starts. Test your presentations on the presentation screens before your event begins. If you have any custom fonts, make sure they are working on the venue screens. Test the wireless. Test the sound. Test anything you can think of!

6) Find out if there are charges for shipping what you need to the location and condense, if possible. Most venues have drayage fees that charge the event planners extra for shipping and/or storing supplies before the event. Find out what these fees are (they are often per pound), and figure out if you need to ship everything or if you can condense multiple boxes.

7) Get extra staff for registration, directions, timing, etc. It is always helpful to have more people helping out at your event than you expect. Plan carefully for registration as that is the attendees’ first impression of your event. Have a lot of people running registration to avoid long lines. In addition to your directional signage, have floaters helping people from session to session or even when they first walk in the door. Have people dedicated to making sure the speakers stay on time for their sessions.

8) Communicate the final agenda weeks in advance to attendees. Have your agenda ready to promote to attendees and potential attendees 2-3 months before your event. Not only will it allow you to promote to new attendees, but it will answer many questions from your current attendees. People who sign up for events want to know what they will get out of it and how to prove its value to their boss. The agenda will be your best tool to assist in this question.

9) Give the venue some personality – spice it up with your brand! A hotel or convention center can be somewhat bland before you bring in some aspects of your brand. Think past putting your logo all over the place, and think about your brand colors and personality. How can you bring your company’s culture to an event? How can you spice up a room to give your attendees a feel for your event?

HubSpot's Executive Playbook Event - San Francisco

HubSpot’s Executive Playbook Event – San Francisco

10) Create a project plan. The first thing you should do before beginning any work on an event is create a project plan. The plan should include every small detail you need to do from signing contracts to sending in name badges and printing signs. No matter how big or small the task, it should be on your project plan. Even better, you can use it for multiple events in the future.

What other details do people typically forget when planning events?

SXSW 2013

I think it is every marketer’s dream to get to go to SXSW. I know I have been dreaming about it since college. And my dream came true this year!

SXSW was an incredible opportunity to see a much larger conference and figure out how they manage thousands of people. I was honestly surprised that it wasn’t the largest conference I have been to (Dreamforce has close to 100,000 attendees). But it was still an amazing experience.

A few highlights for me.

BLOGGER LOUNGE

Samsung sponsors a blogger’s lounge where bloggers or other people who want to get work done can come, sit down, and most importantly charge their devices. It isn’t huge – there are about 7-8 tables that fit 10-12 people each. But there are food and drinks, and it’s a comfortable space. There is also a daily web show that goes on, and they bring in influential people to interview. Some examples of those people: Tony Hsieh from Zappos, Brian Solis, and Shaq. Samsung also has an area where people can try out all of their devices (tablets & phones) and other promotional materials along the side.

Being within a few feet of Shaq was really cool too. ;)

Shaq at SXSW

Shaq at SXSW

Samsung Blogger Lounge

Samsung Blogger Lounge

KEYNOTE PRESENTATIONS

I attended four of the keynotes: Elon Musk, Al Gore, Dennis Crowley, and Michael Inman. The first three were interview style, and Michael spoke by himself. The format was 45 minutes of either interview or presentation and 15 minutes of Q&A. They asked the audience to submit questions via Twitter with the hashtag #AskMusk, #AskGore, #AskCrowley, #AskInman. I loved how well the Q&A portion was integrated with the audience. I’m also a bit of a Foursquare nut, as you may know if you read my blog, so I was excited to see Dennis. I hadn’t seen him speak in about 3-4 years so it was interesting to hear about the change from check-ins and mayorships to emphasizing the importance of data. Also, Michael Inman was the funniest, most engaging person I have ever seen speak.

Elon Musk

Elon Musk

Al Gore

Al Gore

Dennis Crowley

Dennis Crowley

Michael Inman

Michael Inman

AUTHOR’S ROOM

There was a small room (maybe 50-100 people) where author’s could give a 20 minute presentation on their book. There was also a small cafe in the room. Right outside the room was an area for them to sign books right after the presentation. Immediately to the right of that was a store where Wiley was selling books including HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing book!

Author's Room

Author’s Room

Book Signing Area

Book Signing Area

CHARGING STATIONS

There were charging stations EVERYWHERE – I LOVED it!. At parties, in the blogger’s lounge, in areas that sponsors took over, and even just at random places in the hall. In the picture below you see what looks like closed lockers. AT&T (the sponsor) would position someone at the lockers, and there were chargers inside. You could give them your phone, they would lock it up, and you could come back later to get it back. Or you could stand there for awhile as your phone charged. AMAZING!

Charging Stations

Charging Stations

TRADE SHOW

The trade show was a typical exhibition area. But there were a lot of companies who did some pretty cool things including Post-It!

Post-It

Post-It

There were also a ton of t-shirts given out, which I was a fan of ;)

T-shirt collage

T-shirt collage

MY FAVORITE PART: ALL THE PEOPLE

Putting aside all of the great sessions and parties that literally went all day long (from early in the morning to late at night), my favorite part was meeting all different kinds of people and also re-connecting with some other friends. It was a great opportunity to bounce ideas off of each other and meet new people.

Two PRSSA friends, Amy Bishop & Harrison Kratz

Two PRSSA friends, Amy Bishop & Harrison Kratz

With the founder of Weather Puppy (An app you MUST download)

With the founder of Weather Puppy (An app you MUST download)

Reconnecting with the RVIP Ladies I worked with at Dreamforce 2011

Reconnecting with the RVIP Ladies I worked with at Dreamforce 2011

But the Angry Birds party was pretty cool :)

Angry Birds Party Decoration

Angry Birds Party Decoration

Was anyone else there this year? What did you think?

HubSpot’s INBOUND 2012 Conference

Wow time sure does fly when you are having fun! After publishing 1-2 times a month on this blog, it has been awhile since I have published a post. Definitely shame on me. But I’m back, and I’m here to tell you what I have been doing for the past year over the next couple of posts.

INBOUND 2012

This time last year I was gearing up for INBOUND 2012. I managed the logistics for the conference including sponsors, vendors, internal communication, registration, customer service, speaker coordination, budget, and reporting. We exceeding our goal of having 2,000 attendees and had 2,800 attendees with 60+ speakers from about 20 countries around the world. Our keynote speakers included David Meerman Scott, Rand Fishkin, Susan Cain, and Gary Vaynerchuk.

The conference kicked off with certification classes for HubSpot customers. They were able to get certified in top of the funnel and middle of the funnel practices. We certified about 150 people within the first day.

HubSpot certification class

HubSpot certification class

The following day, the conference officially kicked off with an exciting entrance by our co-founders, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah.

Then they walked into the conference and welcomed the attendees.

HubSpot co-founders Brian Halligan & Dharmesh Shah's entrance

HubSpot co-founders Brian Halligan & Dharmesh Shah’s entrance

Over the next 2 1/2 days, attendees had their choice of 60 breakout sessions within 6 tracks. They also had the chance to go to 5 keynote sessions.

David Meerman Scott

David Meerman Scott

Rand Fishkin

Rand Fishkin

Susan Cain

Susan Cain

Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk

There was also a special announcement of our latest product, HubSpot 3.

On Tuesday night, we also had a very special guest at INBOUND Rocks, Cyndi Lauper!

Cyndi Lauper at INBOUND Rocks

Cyndi Lauper at INBOUND Rocks

On Wednesday night, the last night of the conference, we had a few parties along Boylston Street with some of our sponsors. They were SXSW style so you could travel from party to party throughout the night.

Unlike other conferences, we had a pretty unique sponsorship exhibition area. Instead of having your typical booth setups, we gave our sponsors lounge areas with lounge furniture so they could have engaging conversations that did not come across as too promotional. We also had what we called the Prodigy Bar to allow customers to ask HubSpot consultants questions about the software.

HootSuite's Sponsorship Area

HootSuite’s Sponsorship Area

Another video of HootSuite's space

Another video of HootSuite’s space

Lounge areas in Sponsorship Hall

Lounge areas in Sponsorship Hall

HubSpot Prodigy Bar

HubSpot Prodigy Bar

And finally, a recap of INBOUND 2012, so you can really get an idea of what the conference was like.

Was anyone there? What did you think?

I’m Still Here!

Time flies when you are having fun! 

It may seem like everything has slowed down since I haven’t written a post in so long, but that is far from the truth. 

Last month, I published my first ebook for HubSpot called “Reinvent Your Event Marketing for Higher ROI.” It takes you through the planning process of setting goals for your trade show and creating a detailed strategy to make sure you achieve those goals and ultimately get higher ROI for being at the trade show. Sometimes it may be difficult to measure your trade show results, but it gives you details on how to do that!

Image

Cover for Reinvent Your Event Marketing for Higher ROI

I have also written a ton of content for the HubSpot Marketing Blog. One of the awesome things about this blog is that as soon as there are new marketing developments (Google+, Pinterest, etc.), we have an article posted about it. Though it may be hard at times to keep up with all these advancements, this blog is definitely an awesome start!

My last 5 blog posts include:

But probably the most exciting news is the conference I’m planning at HubSpot, Inbound 2012. This conference is from August 27-30, 2012 at the Hynes Convention Center for 2,000 marketers. You may have read about HUGS 2011 last year that was for 1,000 HubSpot customers. Inbound 2012 expands that conference to twice the size, three times as long and for any marketer, not just HubSpot customers. There will be keynote speakers including Gary Vaynerchuk and Rand Fishkin, certification and training, more than 50 sessions, a live band karaoke party and a sponsor pavilion different than anything you may have seen before. Stay tuned for some exciting updates on that!

What have you been doing lately?

A Look Back on 2011

As the end of the year approaches, it seems that most of the articles are reflecting on the last year. Journalists write about the best campaigns of the year, and the worst campaigns of the year.  They write about the most memorable parts of the year, and the most painful moments of the year.  Last year I wrote a post called the Final Post of the Year that went month by month through the best parts of 2010.  I really enjoyed writing that post and looking back on my past year so I figured I would do the same thing for 2011.

January

In January, I went to the Dolphins/Patriots game in Foxboro which is something I have wanted to do since I moved to Boston.  The Dolphins obviously got killed, but it was still a great time.

I also started my last semester of college at Boston University.  They had a few celebrations for seniors.

With Dean Elmore and John Battaglino

February

I had some exciting trips in February.  First, I went to Chicago for the first time.  I went to DePaul University’s PRSSA conference.  I wrote about it on an older blog post.  Then I spent the rest of the weekend exploring the city with my awesome tour guide, Nick Lucido!

Sky Deck!

The Bean

Deep dish pizza!

A week later I went skiing for the first time at Mont Tremblant.  It was definitely scary learning how to ski at first, but by the end of the weekend I was getting the hang of it.  But I have heard that your first time skiing should not be on this mountain.

March

In March I did something I had been looking forward to since I heard it opened.  HARRY POTTER WORLD!

April

This month started off bittersweet.  I went to Seattle for the PRSSA National Assembly.  I always looked forward to my PRSSA trips, and this one was my last.  The next committee was elected, and I was so excited and proud of them.  But it was also (potentially) the last time I was with everyone in my committee at the same time.  PRSSA continues to mean the world to me and truly made a huge difference in my life and my career.  I was also awarded with the Elaine Averick Outstanding National Committee Member Award.  Oh, and I caught a fish in the Seattle fish market!

The 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 PRSSA National Committees

The 2010-2011 PRSSA National Committee Saying Goodbye

Elaine Averick Outstanding National Committee Member Award

May

In May, I graduated from Boston University with a degree in Public Relations from the College of Communication and a degree in Business Administration from the School of Management.  I also received the Gerald Powers PR Scholarship, Blue Chip Award and Scarlet Key.

Scarlet Key

Blue Chip Ceremony

June

Even though I officially starting working on May 31, my new hire training at HubSpot started on June 6.  After six months of working, I can still say I love my job!

July

In July I spent a lot of time working and a lot of time enjoying Boston and getting together with friends.

BSMA Brunch

August

In mid-August, I co-founded a Young Professionals Network for the Public Relations Society of America in Boston.  Then at the end of August, Dreamforce, Salesforce.com’s annual conference that included 45,000 people this year, began.  My responsibilities at HubSpot all summer consisted of working on our presence at Dreamforce and planning for our HubSpot User Group Summit.  David Kirkpatrick of MarketingSherpa wrote a case study about our presence there.  It was memorable, exciting and turned out very well despite Hurricane Irene’s attempt to keep the HubSpot team in Massachusetts.

September

September was the HubSpot User Group Summit (HUGS) in Boston with 1,000 customers.  It was inspiring hearing many of the HubSpot customer stories and seeing how excited the customers and HubSpotters were to meet each other and learn from one another.  And I cannot leave out the balloon sprocket at the opening reception.  I had honestly wanted to do this since my first day at HubSpot!

October

October started off by going to Maine for the first time!  I have wanted to see more of New England since I decided to stay in Boston after graduation, and this was the first step.  I also had lobster for the first time.

Then all my dreams came true, and I FINALLY got the Verizon iPhone!

And I, of course, had to highlight it on my Facebook Timeline:

November

This month was busy, but at the end of the month, I went with HubSpot to Cloudforce.  It was great to see everyone who I had worked closely with all summer for Dreamforce.  And it is always fun to meet HubSpot customers and talk to other people about the company!


December

At HubSpot, not only are we around some of the greatest marketing professionals in the industry, but they constantly take the opportunity to teach us as well.  HubSpot, therefore, set up a program called HubSpot Fellows.  The CEO and co-founder of HubSpot, Brian Halligan, teaches a bunch of classes on leadership and helps us become better leaders at HubSpot.  It is an awesome chance to learn from Brian but also interact with other HubSpotters who are part of the program.

Happy New Year to everyone!