Product managers all share a similar goal. We all want to build great products that satisfy the needs of our customers and solve real problems. But how do we ensure that we are marketing and managing our products correctly? 1Password Fmr CMO Raj Sarkar shares key insights on the yin & yang of building great products. 

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On the yin & yang of product and marketing

“In many organizations marketing is an afterthought. Product and engineering built the product, and they throw it over to the marketing organization. They say, figure out how to market this product. I’ve seen that happen in my early years, at places like Cisco and Google. What usually happens is marketing feels like they’re not an owner of the product. As a result, they don’t feel empowered. If the marketing has any feedback for product, it’s too late to provide that feedback. It also doesn’t give enough time for the marketing team to be prepared and think about the category and messaging. This is what I call the yin and yang model. 

“The idea of the model is what I call the dual GM model, where the PMs act as owners and founders. Product managers should spend enough time and understand the customer market but also think about the GTM motion. On the other side, marketing should invest a lot into understanding product as well. The way product and marketing should work is with each other versus working against each other. Know the customer, know the magic and connect the two. That’s what our job is as a product marketing organization. To understand the customer, understand the product, and try to connect them together. So this is what I call the Yin Yang model of product and marketing.”

On launching a successful product

“The first question you need to answer is, what category is this product? What category is this product going to serve? You have to remember, especially if you’re selling to an enterprise, or someone with a particular budget. Where does this budget line item show up? Is it replacing already an existing tool? There are various pros and cons of creating a category. If you think about category creation, I have this philosophy that it’s extremely hard for an organization to create a category. I’ll give you a specific example. Asana started calling their tool a work management tool. And then we talk to a customer and say, what’s your confidence in the work management tools and our customer will say, what is work management? The category should come from a particular customer need rather than a product or company. 

“Once you understand the market category you need to understand your primary and secondary competitors. Especially in certain categories, there are so many players in the market. It’s always important to think about who the primary competitor is. Also, who are the secondary competitors? When you do competitive landscape, PMS generally focus on, what is the product differentiated. How is my product different from my competition? Every PM should think about where payment can help in understanding the GTM motion.”

On the different phases of launching a new product

“There’s a lot of confusion around what the beta version of the product is. How do you define beta? What is the alpha version of the product? A lot of debates happen with PMs. I think the most important thing people always forget is the purpose of each of these launches. If you only want 100 customers for beta, like, do you need to do press around? Probably not. You have to remember product readiness. When you’re doing press, you need to make sure that product is ready. You’re gonna drive a lot of people to your website, and they’re gonna sign up. Then in five minutes, if they don’t get the hang of the product, they will never come back. You only have one shot at it. So you have to figure that out. 

“Determine when is the right time to actually press and create demand for your product. This is the phase where you have launched the product. What do you do post-launch? One of the things I talk about this a lot is the importance of the data model. If you look at data in the majority of organizations, data is siloed between different functions. Products have the data in Amplitude and Pendo, or they’re dumping the events data in Redshift, right? Marketing has data in Marketo, HubSpot, or Google Analytics. Sales has the data in Salesforce, right? They don’t talk to each other. As a product PM, think about the data model, I think it’s going to help you from a GTM motion perspective. Once you launch the product, you need to have an end-to-end funnel growth team.”

About the speaker
About the host
Denise Hemke NEOGOV, CPO

As the Chief Product Officer at NEOGOV, Denise leads the strategy for public sector HR and Public Safety software, driving innovation, customer satisfaction, and excellence. Her experience at Checkr as Chief Product Officer saw her delivering customer-focused products and promoting a fairer future. Denise’s notable career spans over two decades, with significant roles including GM for Analytics at Workday, where she launched new products and grew the business to over $200 million in ARR. Her background includes leadership positions at Platfora, Salesforce, HSBC, and AT&T, showcasing her expertise in enterprise product development and a commitment to technological advancement and customer success.

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