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The GTM Systems Product Manager - Josh Hill
Episode 2525th March 2024 • RevOps FM • Justin Norris
00:00:00 00:47:13

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Shownotes

Prioritization is probably the biggest challenge for ops teams.

Say yes to everything—you pretty quickly become a service department.

Set your own priorities without input from the business—you can quickly find yourself irrelevant, even out of a job.

The best model that I've seen for tackling this problem is what we could call the product management approach to managing MarTech.

This is where you effectively treat your stack as an internal product and ops as a product management team working on delivering features for internal customers.

Today's guest has practiced this approach at enterprise scale, with an ops team dozens strong.

Josh Hill shares his insights and lessons learned, as well as his journey as one of the earliest and well-recognized experts in the Marketo community.

Thanks to Our Sponsor

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What's more, it supports global teams, approval workflows, and it’s got your integrations. Click the link below to get a special offer just for my listeners.

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About Today's Guest

Josh Hill is a GTM operations and systems executive who builds revenue accelerating GTM platforms, global teams, and processes in partnership with Product, Sales, and Marketing. He has a strong track record of turning business strategies into live enterprise capabilities and impactful customer experiences.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/jhill2/

Key Topics

  • [00:00] - Introduction
  • [01:37] - Josh’s professional journey
  • [04:19] - Development of automation pro as a professional identity
  • [06:48] - Scope and scale of the teams Josh led
  • [08:54] - Definition of a product management approach to martech
  • [15:45] - Should marketing ops be oriented around business impact?
  • [21:03] - Reasons why ops teams need to say “no” sometimes
  • [27:38] - Solving for the internal vs. external customer
  • [30:39] - Asking tough questions about adoption and ROI
  • [33:53] - Building your roadmap
  • [35:53] - Communicating your roadmap internally
  • [40:10] - Cultivating resolve around prioritization and triaging requests
  • [42:43] - How to transition to a product management approach

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Transcripts

Justin Norris:

If I had to name the single biggest challenge for ops teams,

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it would have to be prioritization.

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We all have limited resources and we all

have way more requests than we can ever

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handle, even if we worked a 24 hour day.

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:

So how do you deal with this problem?

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If you say yes to everything, you pretty

quickly become a service department.

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You have no strategic input.

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You just do what you're

told and life gets.

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Kind of miserable.

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At the same time, if you just set your

own priorities and you don't have enough

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input from the business, you can quickly

find yourself irrelevant and you can

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potentially find yourself out of a job.

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So there's a conflict here

that needs to be resolved.

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And the best model that I've seen

for tackling this problem is what

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some people would call the product

management approach to managing

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MarTech or to managing your ops team.

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And this is where you effectively

treat your stack as an internal

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product and ops as a product

management team working on delivering.

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Features for internal customers today.

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We're joined by a marketing ops legend,

Josh Hill, who has put this into

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practice in an enterprise setting.

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And he's going to tell us about how you

implement this approach, what it means for

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prioritization, how you build the right

team to support it and a whole lot more,

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Josh, it's awesome to have you here today.

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Josh Hill: I'm glad to be here.

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Just it's a really interesting early

topic for marketing operations pros.

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And I think I'm still exploring it.

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So I appreciate that.

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You think I'm an expert at it.

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Justin Norris: I want to start with a

quick overview of your journey and before

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I throw that to you to give that to us, I

just want to give credit where credit is

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due and acknowledge kind of a big impact.

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I think that you've had on my

career, like in the very early days

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of marketing automation and the

nascent era of marketing operations.

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You were, I think, one of the first

people to recognize the opportunity

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of this discipline and establishing.

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Yourself as a thought leader, as an

expert with your early blog marketing

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rockstar guides and in particular just

diving into the Marketo community,

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when and it had a leaderboard.

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I think yours was the face at the

top of that leaderboard every day.

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You could see the investment you were

putting into just almost becoming.

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like the representation of that

community and it motivated me to dive

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in and to, reply more and to build

up my professional identity there.

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So, maybe you can talk a little bit or

touch on, what led you to do that, but I

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would just love to understand how you got

into this field and what you've done.

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Josh Hill: A lot of people say

something similar, and I'm glad that

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I had an impact on you and others with

answering lots and lots of questions.

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I think that helped me think through

the problems I was facing as well.

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Dive into the technology and how it could

actually be used to build experiences.

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How did I get into this?

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Well, you know, today, right?

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I build scalable GTM platforms and I

support the full customer lifecycle

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working with product marketing and sales.

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But that's not how it started, right?

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I was actually in sales working on.

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Selling information products,

which I thought about frequently.

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And then I moved into demand gen and I ran

events and ads and all sorts of things.

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And because I was process oriented

and technical, I took on this

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implementation of Marketo, right?

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I chose Marketo and went in pretty

deep and then became a consultant as

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you know, and answered lots and lots

of questions and took on larger and

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larger projects to the point where.

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I was working on RingCentral's team,

designing systems and teams to support

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their scale up from 300 million to 2

billion in revenue, working on next

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generation omnichannel capabilities,

radical improvements to speed to

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lead, and campaign operations um,

and a lot more, but I was able to

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do that because I built up a team.

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That work, I'm working on little

projects at a time, answering questions

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people had on the community and kind of

thinking through, well, how would I solve

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that and realizing that many respects

a lot of these marketing automation

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platforms and even Salesforce is a

workflow tool and you can make it do.

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Just about anything you want.

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So knowing what it is you

want to do, building that as a

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product, right, is important.

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You know, having an actual curiosity about

these things is also important as well.

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Justin Norris: Do you remember

like when you had this recognition

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that this was a field that you

could build a career around?

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Cause it seemed to me

in the beginning that.

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you had a lot of like demand gen people

buying Marketo and figuring out how to

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use it and kind of being like amateurs.

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And I don't mean that in a negative way,

but they were not Martech professionals.

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They were people in an adjacent

discipline who are using this

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tool to do a particular job.

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And you again, in my mind, were the first

person who was like, wait a second, like

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No, this is a professional discipline.

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I can establish myself in this

way and treat it that way.

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Where did that recognition

come from for you?

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Or, where did that light bulb go off?

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Josh Hill: Yeah, I would say it

was A couple months after my first

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implementation, and it was a funny, I

have a funny story about that, which I

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actually don't share very often is I was

doing the project I was maybe, it was

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live, maybe a couple weeks into seeing

auto responders go out right we never

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had auto responders and I can manage them

and it was saving a huge amount of time.

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And I was seeing that other

people were getting traditional

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marketing projects that I wasn't.

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And I said, well, gee, you know, I

feel like maybe I'm in a backwater

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now, like I got sidelined because

I was working on this technology.

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And I feel like, oh, now I'm in

this marketing operations backwater.

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And that seems weird to say now, right?

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no one had coined marketing

operations, or at least I hadn't

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come across it at the time.

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And after a couple of months departing

the company, I was like, huh.

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You know, I really like doing that, right?

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Maybe I should make that my job, right?

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And I've seen more and more jobs

kind of coming up about, like, people

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needing DemandGen and Marketo because

a lot of those, like you said, people

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were, DemandGen was buying Marketo, it

was buying Eloqua, and There were no

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professional marketing operations folks,

at least for most of the B2B companies.

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And because I had that technology

experience in my past, like where I

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was a tech support, I ran sysadmin for

Linux boxes and all sorts of things.

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I like that and I'm like, Oh,

I can take that approach and

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apply it to this technology.

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So it's.

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more secure, more managed effectively.

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What we might call marketing

operations, DevOps, or something like

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that today and put some discipline

around it because no one else has that

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kind of unique set of experiences.

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Turned out some people

did, which is great.

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But that's how it took

it to the next level.

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but I want people to make

sure they understand, like.

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IT style management of these

technologies is important.

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I think you should master that.

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But that's not the same

as product management.

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Justin Norris: And so

that's where we want to go.

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And just before we do, you touched a

little bit on the sort of scope and

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scale of some of the teams that you led.

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And I have a little bit of an inside.

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View here is we actually collaborated

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with myself as a consultant.

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you were my client.

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So I had a bit of a window

into what you were doing.

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and it was a big operation that you

ran, particularly at ring central,

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which is where we work together.

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A big team, lots of

people, lots of complexity.

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it was huge.

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Can you just give a sense of like

the operation that you had there?

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Josh Hill: So my team grew into more

than 30 people around the world, four

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or five teams, depending on the quarter

we were talking about where I did

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follow, you know, Aidan Thanks approach

sort of naturally, but I became a

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little more aware of it later, right?

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And architecture system analysts.

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Not really programmers per se, but

people who knew enough to do low to

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mid code kind of integration work and

would ask the important questions about

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scale and ensure that there was a lot

of cross functional and cross system.

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Work they would do things like BRDs.

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I mean everybody could but that's that

was more of their focus There was demand

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gen systems and campaigns there's a

front end development team and it was

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important to separate those because

At least at RingCentral, the motion

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and the systems are very different

for customers versus prospectors.

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How the campaigns were

thought of were different.

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So you really had to understand each

technology, each kind of data flow that

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was going on, and they were different.

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and that was only half of the

marketing operations team.

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We had marketing data, we had

DevOps, and that had a whole

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other set of things going on.

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We had project management and production

management, which was also very important.

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And, people talk about those things

as pillars, but I actually got the

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chance to practice it in real life

and build those things with the team

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to support a large scale system.

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And that led me to thinking about, how

do you do this at a very large scale?

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you know, you were the person

introduced us to a lot of other

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tools as well, so thank you for that.

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Justin Norris: Oh glad to have done it.

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So thinking then about this product

management approach, maybe just

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a definition, like how do you

definitionally think about it?

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what does it mean?

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And was it something that you applied?

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Back then, or is it something kind

of just retrospectively looking back?

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You're like this is the way that I would

do it if I was to build That work again.

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Josh Hill: I did.

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And I did.

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Right.

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You know, when I think about products,

you know, I've been working with software

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building software or ecosystems for a

long time, and I would always think about,

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okay, well, how does this product work?

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How is it thinking about the world?

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And every product does have a point

of view, forget who talked about it.

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Maybe it was Scott Brinker.

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And, Marketo had a point of view

about how you handle B2B lead

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management, And how much of that

influences your choice as a process.

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But getting back to your question, right?

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I love thinking about how customer

service, how sales, how features,

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how other things work to integrate

into a product experience.

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I wanted to be a product

manager at one point.

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And, you know, on an amateur

level, as you put it, right?

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Like, I think about these

things daily, right?

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I would talk with Marketo.

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I think the product should

work this way, right?

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It's not solving my actual problem.

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How do I solve my actual

problem in the hope that they

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would put that on the roadmap?

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And sometimes they did, And what's

interesting is that when I started

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diving into understanding what a

product manager does, as it's defined,

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you know, in the software world,

pMs think about the same things

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that marketing ops pros think about.

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They're at this intersection of

business, customer experience approval

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processes, feature development,

BRDs, product requirement documents.

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So it's all of these things.

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The only other discipline that really

works on that is marketing operations

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or rev ops, or even to some degree

sales operations where all of these

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threads come together to build something

So with marketing operations, we're

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building typically products around like

an event experience or a lead flow.

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Experience or internal sales

product experience, right?

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So it can be a little bit different

because it's more internal typically,

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but we're always thinking about the

outside world and asking marketers.

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Hey, are you sure you want that form

that way and building frameworks to help?

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Get those requirements and those

experiences built, And this really didn't

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come up as a crystallized thought until

a VP brought it up from a very large

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organization, like super large and comes

by and he says, I want to bring in a

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product manager for marketing technology.

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We need strategy and.

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That was a little surprising

because I thought we had strategy.

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But it did get me thinking about,

okay, well, why is he saying this?

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Right?

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What is a product management

approach doing that's

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different than what I'm doing?

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there are some differences, but

there are a lot of similarities.

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So over the last couple of years,

I've been researching that and kind of

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understanding, how are they different?

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How are they not?

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Do they just talk differently?

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But it's doing the same thing?

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And largely, yes.

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If you ask ChatGPT or the internet, you

know, what does a product manager do?

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It's going to give you something

mild, like, well, it's responsible

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for developing and managing products.

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Okay.

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Marketing operations focuses on

executing marketing strategies and

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optimizing marketing processes.

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not very helpful, and it's kind

of incomplete, but it's also true.

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in many ways.

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It's a messaging question.

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So when I think about marketing

operations, we're often at the bleeding

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edge of a business of marketing,

making an experience come to life for

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a marketer for a customer, Whether it's

in campaign operations or architecture,

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you're kind of trying to figure out

How does the rubber meet the road?

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And guess what?

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Product managers do the same

thing, but they don't talk

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about it exactly the same way.

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Justin Norris: So is it about in

some cases just adopting a product

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management lexicon, like instead of

saying like, Hey, I have a request,

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say, all right, well, this is a feature

and I'm going to put it in my roadmap

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and we'll develop it in sprints.

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And, you know, just adopting

that terminology, or is there

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something more fundamental?

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At the root of how you think about

what you're doing that comes with

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the product management approach.

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Josh Hill: You can do that.

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I suspect a lot of us

already are doing that.

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So what does a PM do, right?

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it's probably familiar to people who

are particularly marketing technology

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architects or more experienced pros

You're aligning experiences to the

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mission or the customer experience

you're enforcing product boundaries

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or against a strategy Are we going

to do something or not do something?

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Right?

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How do we treat?

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Our customers, whether it's

internally or externally.

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And sometimes you have to think about

both in marketing operations, right?

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I'm building a privacy product to capture

opt ins and help speak in compliance.

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How does that whole end to end

process work from the branded page and

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interaction that an actual customer or

non customer has down to how do we use it?

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Inside our internal systems, you know,

how do we get all the approvals for that?

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And we build products with customers

with engineers, We manage all the

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stakeholders involved from, you know, vps

your day to day stakeholders Whoever's

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asking for a feature, Someone comes

to me and says hey, I want To send

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gifts to our prospects or our customers

for some reason Yeah, we can bring in

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a vendor do that, but that workflow

that goes around it, that's a product,

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How we use that vendor is a product.

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And like you said, we do

build features, right?

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And that ideally is managed through a

process with business requirements doc, or

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if you're going to be a product manager,

it's a product requirement doc, They're

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not different, They all have user stories.

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They have jobs to be done.

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And some of us have borrowed from

Agile and product management.

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Terminology to in our data to pay work.

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So you're probably already doing that.

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And I think it's really

important to do that.

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If you're going to do an RFP, if you're

creating a new workflow, which a workflow

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can be a product, you know, if you're

delivering specifications to engineers.

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You're creating wireframes

and experience workloads.

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You're doing UX and creative

on your team, right?

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I have a front end development team.

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What did we talk about a lot?

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The user experience, We had to build

wireframes for certain situations.

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You know, how do we create capabilities

for a marketer or for our customers

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or our users to do something, Did we

get the requirements right for that?

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Did we build a minimum viable product,

which a lot of us use that terminology?

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We do testing, UAT, launch

decision points, feedback loops.

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So you're already doing all these things.

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Now, there is a difference though.

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Product managers, marketing operations

folks, we are interdisciplinary.

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We're at this intersection of business,

marketing, demand gen, sales, user

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experience, UI, front end development.

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We have to know the back end

pretty well or back end enough.

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maybe we know some SQL and some

Python, DNS, and email marketing.

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And that all goes into being

a product manager, right?

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Understanding the customer life cycle.

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Now where I'd say there are some

differences, not just in terminology,

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is Product managers sometimes say

that they're the CEO of a product.

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Sometimes they don't like

that, and that's a debate.

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But they are closer to

understanding the business impact.

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They're trying to build a business,

And they'll have core metrics, like

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a North Star metric or aha moments.

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And they're going to leverage product

data and telemetry and build that in.

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And understand how people interact

with the product and whether that

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feature is working delivering

whatever it is they want, Like more

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and more usage typically, right?

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Slack users inviting more

people from their organization

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or outside their organization?

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Marketing Ops doesn't

really do that typically.

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Now you might, if you're saying

like implementing You know,

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sales automation platform, right?

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Do people send out emails from it?

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Are they adopting it?

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And I've used that to help

manage the martech stack, right?

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If someone's not adopting a product

or something I built, maybe we

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should just continue it or change it.

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But we don't typically

think of it in that way.

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And that, to me, that's

the real difference.

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The monetization is the real

difference between the two functions.

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Justin Norris: Well, you just said

to me, it goes to the heart of

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the matter in terms of the role,

the function, the orientation

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that marketing ops should have.

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And I agree with you that we

typically don't do it as a discipline.

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Quite often we're getting these requests.

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And even when we're delivering

them we're thinking about.

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what's the best way to

deliver this architecturally?

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Is it going to be robust?

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Is it going to be scalable?

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What role do you think

marketing ops should have?

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This is the big question for me in

assessing the potential impact of that

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request, like, Hey, I know you want to.

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do chat bots that, you know, send AI

enabled text messages and, gift baskets

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whenever somebody does X, Y, Z, but

like, is this going to be a good idea?

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Is this going to be revenue impacting?

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In other words, should.

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Marketing ops, take some of that product

oriented mindset of like really looking at

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the revenue impact of what they're working

on and push back more against other teams.

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Josh Hill: so when we think about

pushing back It can be done in

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different ways in different situations.

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I would think more about that in first

thought, which is the ROI or the impact

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of the product you're going to build,

so we're whether someone's asking you

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to build something or has a good idea

or an idea about something, right?

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The first thing I want to do is

understand that business requirement

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and Understand the complete workflow

and experience they're trying to give

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either the internal person or the

internal person and the customer,

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whether the customers pay it or not.

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And elicit that out and get it into

workflow or wireframe, something that we

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:

can kind of be more tangible and reactive

then understand, okay, well, if we did

350

:

these things, what's The goal here, right?

351

:

Do we want someone to fill out a form?

352

:

Okay.

353

:

What does that mean for us?

354

:

Exactly.

355

:

They're going to register for an event.

356

:

And that's, you know, an

obvious pipeline generation.

357

:

Is it going to reduce costs

greatly because we automated

358

:

something for us or our customers?

359

:

Are we going to enable growth that

could not be done before, like with

360

:

a click to calendar solution, right?

361

:

Where supposedly will reduce

friction in the meeting process.

362

:

Increase our number of meetings that

we get per day, and therefore that

363

:

should be to an expected revenue.

364

:

That's a lot higher, And that's the

kind of question you need to really ask,

365

:

especially when you're prioritizing work

is I need an ROI metric in order to have

366

:

a conversation and to show you where this

project is going to live in the queue.

367

:

I always love working on win back products

because there was a clear connection

368

:

between what I did and the revenue.

369

:

If you're going to create a chatbot,

which is another one of my favorites

370

:

is that typically doesn't have a

connection between building the

371

:

product and delivering revenue because

you're getting someone to sales or

372

:

getting someone to customer service.

373

:

And increase an MPS score or getting an

upsell opportunity, whatever that is.

374

:

And I built those products, And in many

ways, it was managed like a product,

375

:

even if we didn't talk about it that way.

376

:

But there are other things like, oh,

you know, building a CDP or, you know,

377

:

we're going to create a process that's

going to reduce costs or something.

378

:

You have to really think

through the implication of that

379

:

build to the business, right?

380

:

So theoretically, a CDP could create

some self service opportunities,

381

:

although that I think is overblown.

382

:

It could unify enough of our data

and identifiers to better personalize

383

:

the product experience or the

website so that Theoretically, at

384

:

least that will increase the number

of conversions through the funnel.

385

:

And that has an impact on revenue.

386

:

So you can definitely tie it back,

but you need to think through that.

387

:

And like you said, that hasn't

always been an obvious thing

388

:

for marketing operations to do.

389

:

But as I talked about in a couple of

presentations, I did on building a

390

:

business case, you do have to do that.

391

:

And that's where the pushback happens is

you have to ensure that your stakeholders

392

:

are helping you build that business case.

393

:

typically Moss is not the business

owner, We might be the technical

394

:

owner, but if you don't have a

business partner who is on the hook for

395

:

delivering dollars from something you

build, then you're just building stuff.

396

:

Maybe it gets used.

397

:

Maybe it works.

398

:

Maybe it doesn't.

399

:

You should never have tools

that don't have a business owner

400

:

Justin Norris: And

401

:

about that relationship between, mops

and the teams we support in my little

402

:

intro I kind of presented a straw man

vision of, you know, a few different ways

403

:

that relationship could be structured.

404

:

They were based on reality though.

405

:

I think a lot of the teams.

406

:

Do find themselves in a position

where they're getting handed a

407

:

list of priorities and like, here's

the things we need you to do.

408

:

Here's the tools we want you to implement.

409

:

that's not a great place to be, not

just for ops, but it's not good for

410

:

the business because there isn't any of

that pushback and I think on the flip

411

:

side, and I've seen this more in an

enterprise setting, maybe you have two

412

:

where you have a team that's built such

a huge kind of a moat around themselves.

413

:

But everything is just like, no, or,

Oh, it'll be on the roadmap in a year.

414

:

And they just seem completely

unresponsive to needs of the business.

415

:

I think I, I've seen this probably

more with CRM teams than with

416

:

marketing ops teams, but sorry to

417

:

say that CRM teams and at that point

you end up with like shadow it or

418

:

people hiring their own, external

consultants ,how do you think about

419

:

the types of approaches that are out

there and how to move from one polarity

420

:

or the other towards this, what I would

think of as a more balanced approach,

421

:

you know, where it's more of a true

partnership delivering on business

422

:

outcomes versus a power struggle.

423

:

Josh Hill: Well, ideally,

that's, the leadership.

424

:

Saying the right thing, And I've seen

this too, in many organizations, right?

425

:

Where you get the hippo or what I call the

VP stomp, where you got to do something.

426

:

no explanation, no discussion, no, review

of, best options to achieve that goal.

427

:

Maybe not even a discussion of what

that goal really is, in some case.

428

:

there was someone who posted Something

with that thought the other day on

429

:

LinkedIn where they were very much like,

Mops is the saying no to me and they were

430

:

very upset about this And I really wanted

to push back on that person because I it

431

:

felt like every conversation with someone

who hasn't taken the time to explain what

432

:

they want to achieve It's like, I didn't

say no, I'm thinking about your problem.

433

:

And that often gets interpreted

as no, because I didn't do

434

:

it in the last five minutes.

435

:

these things don't happen

in five minutes, usually.

436

:

Or even 30 minutes, and it really depends

what it is you're trying to achieve.

437

:

And that's what, you know, I built

the journey doc process for the

438

:

business requirements doc process.

439

:

It feels slow to people

who just want it now.

440

:

And the reason that process exists is

to ensure we're actually delivering

441

:

what you want and what you really want

and understanding that so that we don't

442

:

show up with a product or a hack that

actually didn't deliver anything because

443

:

that has definitely happened before,

or everyone misunderstands each other.

444

:

It's a way to.

445

:

Avoid misunderstandings and any product

manager will have the same problem, Where

446

:

they get ideas from customers, or they're

trying to solve a customer problem.

447

:

They build a purity and they're trying

to explain it to the engineers who

448

:

are already working on their road

map, or they have their own ideas.

449

:

And that's fine, or they might have

a better way of solving it, but is it

450

:

actually solving the customer problem?

451

:

Or is it how they think

about the customer problem?

452

:

And then you get conflicts

in the prioritization.

453

:

And that's really what, one of the

things I actually kind of learned very

454

:

clearly from product management interview

videos is you always have to connect

455

:

back what you're doing to the strategy

of the company and the product, you

456

:

know, it feels a little business Casey.

457

:

Which is fine, but it

makes a good point, right?

458

:

Like, if we're loading a product at,

let's just say, Emails 10 million people

459

:

a day to try to get them to respond.

460

:

But our whole strategy and customer

branding is about being nice

461

:

to people and treating people

well, for whatever reason, right?

462

:

I'm just kind of making

up a business strategy.

463

:

And we have that branding, but we

don't treat people that way, right?

464

:

We're going to have a big

mismatch in how people.

465

:

Perceive us, and we're probably

going to hurt our brand and product

466

:

manager, marketing ops professional

with some experience is going to

467

:

often say like, Hey, this doesn't

feel brand aligned, Are you sure

468

:

you want to treat people this way?

469

:

Are you sure that image you're

giving us is not brand aligned?

470

:

Because we see everything that comes

through the queue, and we're going

471

:

to push it back to creative or ask

you to get a different approval.

472

:

And those processes exist to protect

us in the company from making it.

473

:

A big mistake.

474

:

But, we could build anything you want.

475

:

It's just, is that really the best

thing to do for us for the customer?

476

:

when I think about product management,

when I think about the CRM team, when

477

:

I think about marketing ops does the

CRM team, the enterprise applications

478

:

teams They get into difficult situations

because if they pull out the Jenga

479

:

piece, it can break critical processes.

480

:

And especially if you're a public company,

you have SOX compliance, you have impact

481

:

to street numbers, you cannot do that,

You do not break things like that.

482

:

I mean, I've seen people ask for a

field where, for whatever reason,

483

:

the CRM team just does it and 10,

000 ops get deleted or get closed

484

:

out without proper procedures.

485

:

And then everything blows up in

the emergency slack channels.

486

:

And I'm not saying that happened

to any particular company, but

487

:

I've seen and heard things, right?

488

:

Well, that's because a process got

bypassed, So when I built an SMS product,

489

:

and my architect did the hard work,

so I give her credit for that one.

490

:

We designed everything out.

491

:

How do we treat people?

492

:

When should this happen in the process?

493

:

How do we do an MVP so we don't just

spam everybody who could get an SMS?

494

:

How do we even know if this

person has a cell phone, if

495

:

this is a cell phone number?

496

:

Did we run this by the privacy

team who actually had a lot

497

:

of good advice about that?

498

:

And then we could launch it and test it.

499

:

And, oh, by the way, we came up against

regulatory issues and maybe we can't

500

:

do the SMS product for a while because

we have to get certain other approvals.

501

:

Right.

502

:

And the environment changed product

teams, product managers come against

503

:

the same problem all the time.

504

:

So I don't like it when people say,

Oh, that team is saying no, it's

505

:

they're trying to protect themselves

because they got burned or the

506

:

company is going to get burned.

507

:

So it's up to escalation process to

prioritization should be and try to,

508

:

as some people would say, breakthrough.

509

:

But I would say it's more about.

510

:

If you need to escalate something,

to me that tells us that there are

511

:

conflicting priorities, again, across

the silos, but they're also not a clear

512

:

understanding of the strategy that

could help us build a rubric or an ROI

513

:

metric around should we be doing this

514

:

Justin Norris: when you think about

that difficult conversation that you're

515

:

describing, you know, the stakeholder

that feels you're saying no, you're trying

516

:

to understand, you know, the job of the

product manager, broadly speaking, is

517

:

to solve for the needs of the customer,

you could say, in this context, who is

518

:

your customer, is it the end customer

that you're trying to sell to and serve?

519

:

And so you're looking at it through

is what we're trying to do here.

520

:

Serving that person or is the

customer, the internal stakeholder

521

:

who you're saying, you know, as long

as I deliver the needs for them and

522

:

they get what they want, whether it

ultimately serves the needs of that

523

:

end customer, you know, is up to them.

524

:

And I, I've heard arguments and I can

see pros and cons of both points of view.

525

:

I'm curious where you

land on that question.

526

:

Josh Hill: Well it depends right?

527

:

Like, what are we building, right?

528

:

So if I'm building

self-service segmentation tool.

529

:

That's typically an internal product I

don't have to worry or think through a lot

530

:

of the customer impacts other than maybe

like ensuring that we have certain privacy

531

:

rules around it or communication limits.

532

:

For example, I have to worry about

did I understand the goal and is

533

:

it actually going to deliver that?

534

:

And is it easy to use?

535

:

Is that one of the requirements?

536

:

Or do you need a sequel?

537

:

I would assume in a self service

situation you would want to have right

538

:

As little code as possible in order

for a natural understanding of how

539

:

someone would think about a segmentation

and how to enable them to do it.

540

:

And you might have an MVP and you

might build out additional things.

541

:

And I've done that.

542

:

And the more difficult conversations tend

to be someone wants it now and didn't

543

:

talk to you ahead of time and think

through their entire process and you try

544

:

to bring them through the requirements

process just to really understand

545

:

what are we trying to achieve, right?

546

:

Get them to explain themselves.

547

:

And they don't always love that.

548

:

But sometimes people.

549

:

Warm up to the process, especially if you

deliver and other times it's been okay.

550

:

This is an internal and an external

impact, I always think of events or

551

:

privacy in that sense, because they often

have internal processes and procedures.

552

:

That we need to build out for and

there's customer experience impacts.

553

:

So we don't have certain privacy

operationalized that could impact

554

:

the customer in negative ways, or as

well as the company in negative ways.

555

:

And people don't love it when you bring

up potential hurdles, but these are all

556

:

things we can just make decisions on.

557

:

These aren't inherently hurdles unless you

want to do something that's just illegal.

558

:

okay, you want to build a CDP.

559

:

Here's what it's going to take.

560

:

We can either stop doing these things,

or we can hire an agency or hire a

561

:

team to get it started or launched.

562

:

Do we have the right

business case for that?

563

:

And working with them.

564

:

And I've had great partnerships with

many stakeholders about building that

565

:

business case to be effective and either

making a decision like, yeah, That's

566

:

probably not going to have an ROI.

567

:

Maybe we should forget about that.

568

:

Or yeah, this does have a great

ROI and it's going to pass all of

569

:

our IT procurement and financial

teams with flying colors.

570

:

Justin Norris: That ROI question,

can be troubling because I think CDP

571

:

or self service segmentation project

that you described is a good example.

572

:

You could have a model project in the

sense that you work with your stakeholder,

573

:

you define their requirements, you

deliver it, it works well, it's scalable.

574

:

And then the other question is, as

a result of having that capability,

575

:

were they actually able to send better

communications that produced more revenue?

576

:

So it's like the project was

successful on one side, but then

577

:

did it ultimately meet its goal?

578

:

The goal that the marketer had.

579

:

Do you need to care about that?

580

:

Or is there a certain size at scale of

company at which point the separation of

581

:

powers is such that you just can't really.

582

:

Have that conversation

effectively anymore.

583

:

Josh Hill: yes.

584

:

So one of the things I had in my

presentation I talked about is I

585

:

can make a growth estimate, right?

586

:

Having a meeting tool is going

to likely get us 25 percent more

587

:

meetings and that'll justify the

cost of this tool and implementation.

588

:

And ideally, you've built in a process

and a set of metrics and you've captured

589

:

that data so that in a month, two months,

six months from now, you can actually

590

:

compare before and after and say, yep,

we achieved that or Nope, we didn't.

591

:

And ideally, you can make a harder call

and say, okay, well, we didn't achieve the

592

:

goal, but it's still paying for itself.

593

:

Okay, let's investigate

how we can increase it.

594

:

Or it's completely not doing anything.

595

:

Do we cancel it?

596

:

The sales squeal about it.

597

:

Can we just keep it there?

598

:

That's a little squishier goal.

599

:

I tend to be a little harsher and say

like, well, I didn't achieve the goal.

600

:

Maybe we should stop spending money on it.

601

:

And I've done that.

602

:

we had a potentially great idea.

603

:

It's been a lot of time building

it out with the vendor and

604

:

they use 15 percent of it.

605

:

And I asked the stakeholders,

did this change anything?

606

:

Did you achieve your adoption

goal because of this product?

607

:

And they said, nope, which is great.

608

:

Sometimes they don't

admit those things, right?

609

:

They don't want to say

that they were wrong.

610

:

But data doesn't lie,

which is nice, usually.

611

:

So I said, okay, well,

we're going to cancel it.

612

:

And you know what happened?

613

:

It turned out we could have built the same

thing with VelocityScript if we had just

614

:

Thought about it a little harder instead

of rushing into it, that's where, You do

615

:

have to kind of push back a little bit and

think like what options do I really have?

616

:

And could I have built an MVP for free

rather than putting, you know, huge

617

:

amount of effort and direct dollars into

this I've also had other products where

618

:

we did the segmentation thing and It

wasn't really for hyper segmentation.

619

:

Oh, that's a favorite topic of mine.

620

:

It was just to try to speed the marketer

to be at the keyboard and say, okay, how

621

:

many people can I get for this invitation?

622

:

For example instead of waiting for

three or four days for a SQL expert

623

:

data engineer to do this because

of the various complexities and

624

:

it didn't really get adopted and

probably had two or three versions of

625

:

that built because of poor adoption.

626

:

we could debate what that was, but at

some point, we kind of just stopped

627

:

maintaining the product, and that's

why we have the RDs and ROI analysis

628

:

to try to figure out, is this really

worth the effort and following

629

:

up on that process to understand,

did we actually achieve that goal?

630

:

And sometimes you do,

I mean, which is great,

631

:

Justin Norris: hopefully

more often than not.

632

:

Josh Hill: Ideally.

633

:

Yeah.

634

:

Justin Norris: so you're constantly

making these sorts of decisions,

635

:

but they don't happen in a vacuum.

636

:

Ideally with a product, you have a

roadmap, a longer term plan, how long that

637

:

can be, typically depending on the size of

the company and how fast or slow it moves.

638

:

How do you think about that

process of building a roadmap?

639

:

I know sometimes when I sit down with

a blank page, you can be overwhelmed by

640

:

the different possibilities and all the

different things you could be doing.

641

:

So how do you.

642

:

bring structure to that

643

:

Josh Hill: Well, roadmapping is

also a product management technique

644

:

as well as an IT technique.

645

:

And it's very much the

same former of mops.

646

:

It's very much the same for a product

or an enterprise apps team, right?

647

:

What's the strategy of the org?

648

:

And that should determine your priorities

and generally your methodology.

649

:

if that's not communicated effectively,

then that's going to create a lot

650

:

more conflicts across the organization

because you don't have a rubric,

651

:

you don't have an ROI base to make

comparisons without escalation, And

652

:

you want to have ROI prioritization

so you minimize the impact of a HIPPO.

653

:

And, of course, your feelings, Interview

stakeholders and certainly bring your

654

:

own opinions Look at the marketplace.

655

:

Look at the strategy of the larger company

and the other and your competitors.

656

:

Ideally, right?

657

:

What are they doing?

658

:

Are they seeing success?

659

:

And do that gap analysis of your

capabilities versus where you think you

660

:

want to go and where the marketers and

sales team thinks they want to go, And

661

:

map that back to your goals, your timing.

662

:

And then, of course,

always outcomes, right?

663

:

Are we getting an ROI?

664

:

And when are those milestones?

665

:

And when should we

actually achieve that ROI?

666

:

And of course, you know,

is that cost reduction?

667

:

Is that a revenue gain?

668

:

What's that total cost of ownership?

669

:

Really kind of think through

all those pieces, right?

670

:

If we're going to build a CVP, do we have

all of our other data ducks in a row?

671

:

And what would that cost us?

672

:

And what would that help us achieve?

673

:

so if your overall strategy is we're going

to have omni channel personalization.

674

:

You're going to make different decisions

in your roadmap to achieve that.

675

:

If you're doing a PLG motion,

you're going to have different

676

:

decisions and milestones.

677

:

If you're doing PLG plus SLG, you'll

have different tools and different

678

:

needs and different capabilities.

679

:

Justin Norris: very tactically.

680

:

How do you communicate

what the roadmap is?

681

:

Do you have, Google slide deck?

682

:

Do you have a wiki page?

683

:

Cause I find that's a big area of

either concern or stress or frustration

684

:

for stakeholders when they want

something, but you're saying not

685

:

right now, but then they're like,

well, where does it sit in there?

686

:

Like they kind of want.

687

:

This visibility.

688

:

How do you provide that?

689

:

Josh Hill: It's about knowing

your audience, You know, the

690

:

technical schematic is generally

for you and the IT team.

691

:

I wouldn't show that to

anyone typically outside.

692

:

You know, your roadmap could also be

missing something they asked for, and

693

:

you could show them the roadmap and say,

if you want this in the next six months,

694

:

which is usually how long XYZ would

take, we have to change the roadmap.

695

:

And this is how we're

gonna, how we could do that.

696

:

I think educating marketers

and salespeople about those

697

:

capabilities is really important.

698

:

If you're not doing that every

quarter, they tend to forget and

699

:

then they go off and buy something.

700

:

And you're like, well, I could have

done that for you in 10 minutes.

701

:

Why did you go off and buy something?

702

:

Oh, we didn't know.

703

:

Too late.

704

:

But you did know because

it's on the wiki page.

705

:

Well, they don't know that.

706

:

They're not going to go look at that.

707

:

Right?

708

:

That's why, you know, procurement

processes are important to try to

709

:

catch them before they go too far.

710

:

Yeah, I mean, a wiki page can

help, a spreadsheet can help.

711

:

Ideally, it's some sort of slider visual

that explains capabilities possibly

712

:

against the funnel or customer lifecycle.

713

:

I've tried different versions of that.

714

:

I don't think there's any one

solution that works for every

715

:

company in all situations.

716

:

There was a really great set of slides

and I don't think I downloaded it, but

717

:

someone posted on LinkedIn and one of

those little click things that slide

718

:

through that you can't really download.

719

:

And they were explaining

how the PLGmotion can work.

720

:

And it was kind of a very simple

set of steps and it was in a multi

721

:

slide version, which I thought

was actually kind of helpful.

722

:

I'm a little bit curious.

723

:

The motion.

724

:

And then here are increasingly detailed

views of the kind of tool you would need

725

:

to enable that part of the motion and that

messaging, adding a sales motion to it.

726

:

You know, where does

your product fit into it?

727

:

It doesn't have to describe your every

database and our data flow, but it

728

:

kind of generally described the motion.

729

:

And I thought that was

actually pretty helpful and was

730

:

probably digestible by most.

731

:

Senior leaders, but any

sort of capability guy.

732

:

I had a lot of different views as

well as a giant deck it was part

733

:

of our marketing enablement effort.

734

:

And it you know, we had a wiki and

we had an image, but I also had, you

735

:

know, 200 slides explaining every tool

we had and who used it, who owned it,

736

:

who, why it was being used, what it

could do Theoretically you could search

737

:

that, did anybody really do that?

738

:

I don't know.

739

:

But it was a more helpful guide for my

team because it showed everything and

740

:

not just my team, but all the other

teams that we worked with, you could see

741

:

the whole ecosystem and capabilities.

742

:

So I don't have a good answer for you.

743

:

That's going to be the silver bullet.

744

:

Justin Norris: No, I don't

think it's universal.

745

:

But it's yeah, having that something

with the right level of detail that is

746

:

accessible that gives people what they

want, but that doesn't become you know, a

747

:

homework assignment in and of itself that

Sucks a lot of oxygen out of the room.

748

:

Josh Hill: You know, if we're gonna

bring it back to product management

749

:

for a moment, like these things

are always living documents, right?

750

:

And you can reprioritize depending

on your stakeholders, your customers,

751

:

the changes in the marketplace, right?

752

:

Like if AI wasn't on your roadmap a

year ago, it probably is now, right?

753

:

And, you know, engineers are also

going to push back on aspects of it

754

:

or offer their own advice that might

impact how you want to think through

755

:

the order in which things get done.

756

:

Or might make it simpler for you to

achieve certain things if you kind

757

:

of walk through the specifications

and they can give you feedback

758

:

on the best way to achieve that.

759

:

And you might.

760

:

Keep that as a living document, but it's

really up to you as the product manager

761

:

of your, go to market platform to keep

that in front of engineers and your team,

762

:

stakeholders, as well as executives.

763

:

And I know that's hard

because I've done that.

764

:

And it's hard because you're doing all

these other things they asked me to do.

765

:

You're trying to actually

execute on the roadmap.

766

:

So do you have time to flash

it up every now and then?

767

:

Say, hey, this is what we achieved.

768

:

This is where we're going.

769

:

This is what has changed.

770

:

But you do have to do it

as a senior MOPS leader

771

:

Justin Norris: I saw a scenario recently

where something broke, you know, that

772

:

you would consider to be pretty vital to

the business and it had a product impact

773

:

or product input was required to fix it.

774

:

And yet even.

775

:

With that happening you know, it

wasn't like the product team just

776

:

jumped on that and said, yeah, we're

going to drop everything and fix that.

777

:

It said we need to review this against

all our priorities and then we need to

778

:

arbitrate what's going to take precedence.

779

:

And I thought that was an impressive

display of cool headedness and

780

:

rationality because yep, I know that

there's a fire there, but actually

781

:

there's already three fires over

here or there's a water leak here.

782

:

And like, We still need to always

have that assessment and they had,

783

:

obviously, through long experience,

the courage of their convictions

784

:

and the sort of fortitude to stick

to that process, even though something

785

:

really significant had gone wrong.

786

:

I don't often see mobs teams have that

same kind of fortitude and courage of

787

:

their convictions, I guess, in those

situations, like, okay, great, like

788

:

that you want to do this, or this is

broken, like, here's all the other things

789

:

how do you think we cultivate that?

790

:

Is it just sort of rewiring?

791

:

Our brains, or how else can we do that?

792

:

Josh Hill: Yeah, right.

793

:

ultimately you can only control

your own actions and reactions.

794

:

So you're right.

795

:

Whoever said that was very much in

control of themselves and very confident

796

:

in Their position and process and

that does need to be cultivated and

797

:

having a good coach, a good executive

leader on your side can help that

798

:

having clear incident processes and

documentation can help build that motion.

799

:

Just because you know, you're

following the triage process

800

:

or the prioritization process.

801

:

And that's why it's also again

important to have a ROI based approach

802

:

to prioritization that matches your

company strategy because you can

803

:

always point and say, well, you guys

agreed that we're going to do this.

804

:

Rankly is based on ROI, and your ROI

is here, and these other projects

805

:

are up here, so I'm going to do those

first, that takes discipline on your

806

:

part, But it also takes discipline

on the part of the executives.

807

:

they need to be clear about the ROI,

about the priorities of the business.

808

:

They need to have that discussion

together and not in silos.

809

:

And that takes discipline on their part.

810

:

And if that's not happening,

for some reason, and they're

811

:

stomping their feet you know,

that's where you escalate, right?

812

:

Or You know, get everybody on a

phone call and say, Hey, look, we've

813

:

got this conflict about priorities.

814

:

X, Y, Z.

815

:

So they wanted this.

816

:

This is where it falls into the process.

817

:

These other things are a

lower priority right now.

818

:

if you want to change that's fine.

819

:

Let's figure it out now before

we get too far, whether that's

820

:

a fire or it's a project.

821

:

And I Again, that's a personal

thing that somebody has to really

822

:

build into their leadership team.

823

:

Justin Norris: so maybe just final

thoughts, wrapping up this topic.

824

:

Let's say somebody is not in this

product management mode right now.

825

:

Their team has a sort of different

posture in relation to their stakeholders,

826

:

but they want to make this transition.

827

:

What are like kind of the simple first,

second and third things they can do to

828

:

start to make this evolution a reality?

829

:

Josh Hill: think first recognition

is to think that, especially if

830

:

you've been doing mops for a while.

831

:

You're probably doing half of the

thing as a product manager does,

832

:

but you're just not thinking that

you're doing product management.

833

:

So that's 1 thing.

834

:

You can just say, hey,

I'm a product manager now.

835

:

And then that will get you into a

learning mode to say, okay, well,

836

:

what else does a product manager do?

837

:

And, you know, there's a couple of things.

838

:

That you're doing today, So you're

doing things like pain points and

839

:

requirement gathering, you're building

features, whether that's a event

840

:

in a box program template or entire

chat workflow or whatever, right?

841

:

You might have some goals and metrics.

842

:

You might have some feedback loops

already with your stakeholders,

843

:

Are they adopting this product?

844

:

Is a customer using it?

845

:

Is it generating revenue?

846

:

Is it tied to revenue?

847

:

So you're doing maybe like

three or four out of the eight.

848

:

Core thing to add as you grow is

to say, okay, well, you might want

849

:

to look at using a framework to

validate and prioritize, Whether

850

:

it's an ROI framework or a larger

view of the business, And what's

851

:

that strategy the business is taking?

852

:

What business are you actually in?

853

:

Do you understand the

business owners metrics?

854

:

Do you understand the potential

market scope of your opportunity in

855

:

the larger scale business, right?

856

:

Whatever that is, right?

857

:

Do you fully understand the target

market, the buying teams, the ICPs,

858

:

and does your database validate those?

859

:

Are you close to monetization?

860

:

And you don't have to be necessarily,

but you know, if you own a chat product

861

:

or you're building out certain things

that impact revenue in some way, like

862

:

certain kinds of campaigns or workflows

make sure you know that number.

863

:

Talk about that number, Going back

was easy for me to prioritize it.

864

:

I love that example because I could

call up The person requested it.

865

:

And I said, what's your revenue

change from the time before and after?

866

:

And they would tell me and we love

building for them because they always

867

:

told us how well we were doing.

868

:

But don't just make it depend on them.

869

:

Right?

870

:

Build that into your process.

871

:

Understand the goal of the product itself.

872

:

What is the aha moment?

873

:

That the product manager of

your product is building and do

874

:

you have it in your database?

875

:

Are you working on projects related to it?

876

:

Should you be maybe you should

be can you have that conversation

877

:

with the customer lifecycle team?

878

:

Or the product manager of the business

that you're in and that will help you

879

:

Obviously better align with the business

and your business stakeholders a lot of

880

:

people talk about this on linkedin But The

product management discipline is typically

881

:

closer to a business, and the more you

can talk about the business, as they

882

:

always say, right, the more executives

will be aligned with you, or you'll be

883

:

aligned with the executives, and the

more they'll view you not an operations

884

:

function that's there to serve them.

885

:

They'll view you as that partner,

and you won't get flamed on LinkedIn

886

:

by people who claim you're not

paying attention to their needs.

887

:

Because you actually are.

888

:

Because you understand the

business that they're actually

889

:

in and you're supporting it.

890

:

Justin Norris: That's a

great note to end on Josh.

891

:

I want to thank you for joining me

today and, the knowledge and support

892

:

you've shared kind of with the community

at large and with me personally over

893

:

the years, I'm really grateful for

894

:

Josh Hill: Always glad to do it, Justin.

895

:

Thank you for having me.

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