On a lovely Thursday afternoon, I decided to play hooky from our Kloudless office and attend the Heavybit DevGuild Product Marketing event in beautiful and sunny San Francisco. With not a trace of fog in the sky, I braved the cross-Bay traffic to mingle with other Heavybit-sponsored companies, load up on swag and snacks, and learn a great deal about product marketing from some of the most exciting and respected names in the marketing community. Taking place at the beautiful Folsom St. Foundry, the event centered around exploring the tactics and strategies that great developer and B2B SaaS product companies use to message, launch and drive adoption for their products.
After arriving a bit early and loitering outside of the venue with my peers in the tech-marketing space, I was ushered inside to a spread of snacks, coffee, sugarless carbonated drinks, and –like any event associated with tech– enough stickers to blanket the Statue of Liberty ten times over. With around 15 minutes to spare before the speaking events began, I bounced around the room introducing myself to similar-minded marketers also there in search of helpful tips and sagely advice. I had the pleasure of meeting a handful of other Heavybit-sponsored companies, and we immediately celebrated our sense of camaraderie as startups looking forward to applying the lessons of the day to our products.
As they dimmed the lights to indicate it was time to head inside, we canned the small talk and prepared for big ideas.
First to speak was Indy Sen, the VP of Global Product Marketing at WeWork, with a talk about defining product marketing and metrics. He began with an interesting take on marketing towards developers, who are generally averse to traditional means of product marketing. While developers tend to turn their nose up to what they believe is “inauthentic marketing,” they are not immune to the idea of being a product’s advocate, made clear by their propensity to blanket their laptops with branding stickers or wear clothing brandishing tech company logos.
Sen’s talk centered mostly around the broad types of business situations that new leaders must contend with, specifically what he calls the STaRS Model. — Start-up, Turnaround, Realignment, and Sustaining Success. He stressed that this model has helped him and his past companies find success by planning their intent before beginning work on marketing.
Essentially, when businesses eventually run into each of these STaRS challenges when developing their product, Sen advised that they should take a calculated approach to each issue at the five distinct points in their marketing funnel; awareness, interest, consideration, adoption, and finally advocacy. His advice of developing 3 uniques columns for goals, content, and metrics at each step of the funnel journey gave concrete and applicable advice for companies marketing their product directly to developers. For example, if the goal is to drive developers to initially be aware of their product, companies should drive content to their website, docs, and use 3rd party sponsorships to observe metrics aligned to visits, trials, and social-media shares and likes.
He stresses that the STaRS model is a means of “confirming the purpose” when it comes to the marketing strategy that a company should take and that funnels should “provide structure,” while metrics should round out the journey by helping marketers “align on success.”
Following Sen, a panel centered on building high-fidelity personas took place with guests from the marketing divisions of Stripe, Reifyworks, Jama Software, and Figma. I found this panel really insightful, if only for the very relaxed and straightforward nature of the panel participants. They all related personal stories from their current and past positions about what they found the most and least helpful when it came to defining personas for their product’s marketing targets.
I especially enjoyed and related to Tanya Khakbaz’s advice for small companies. In short, she pushed for the notion that effective growth marketing at a smaller sized company means making a coordinated effort to finding your users that absolutely love your product and then catering your marketing message towards similar people who do not know of your product yet. In the rush to grow quickly, small companies might get the impression that targeting a wide swath of potential users is best, but Khakbaz stressed that this approach can end up not resonating with enough people, and alienating potential power-users. As a marketer in charge of content at a smaller company, I hurriedly scribbled down notes as she spoke, trying my best to take as much away from her enlightening points as I could.
Following the first panel was perhaps my favorite of the speaker slots, at least when it came to being directly aimed at my interests as a content marketer. This talk centered on messaging as a source of truth and was given by Betty Junod, the VP of Marketing at solo.io.
Junod spent the beginning of her talk relating her experiences as VP of Product and Partner Marketing at Docker with how to craft effective and meaningful messaging for products in their early stages of messaging.
Her first point was very relatable for those of us in marketing for products with a high bar of technical knowledge clearance. Namely, how do you craft messaging for people who aren’t going to technically understand your product?
At Kloudless, we aim to pitch our messaging towards product managers; a position held by people with a wide range of technical knowledge. Some product managers are incredibly technically proficient and capable of architecting and developing features themselves, while some are far less adept at the technical requirements that go into the actual coding and systems involved in something as complicated as a unified API. As a result, our messaging has to appeal to both of these types of PMs.
Messaging sets the priorities for the product, marketing, sales, community, and even support. Because of this, Junod suggested using a system of messaging pillars to go about creating an airtight approach to messaging. Messaging pillars are categories of value with benefits and supporting points to back up these benefits. By creating 3 messaging pillars for your product, as well as a corresponding positioning statement, Junod explained how product marketers can cover themselves for the future by having the right message for the right potential user when they need it.
I came away from this talk with a new perspective on crafting a unique and pointed approach to constructing the Kloudless messaging pitch, as well as figuring out a strategy for catering the message to different categories of potential customers.
These talks were followed by a few more panels covering organic growth and dev ecosystems and a very informative talk on product launches by Jen Taylor, the Head of Product at Cloudflare, who discussed the different approaches to product launches depending on the size of the company. Stay tuned for our follow up article on her talk in the coming days!
I very much enjoyed hearing these seasoned and accomplished marketers talk about their strategies and vision for their products, and came away having learned something from each one of them. All in all, it was a wonderful experience for me getting to learn more about product marketing, socialize with like-minded companies, and represent Kloudless at the DevGuild event. I send my most sincere appreciation to Heavybit, for not only having me at the event but supporting Kloudless in our aim to simplify integrations for product managers and developers alike. I can’t wait for the next event and to see what Heavybit DevGuild has cooked up for the future!