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Product Marketing Spotlight Series: Hannah Sackett

Crayon's Product Marketing Spotlight is a video interview series where we chat with product marketers to get a glimpse into their careers and gain unique insight into product marketing strategy. In this edition of the Product Marketing Spotlight Series, we shine the light on Hannah Sackett of Electric.


Video interview transcription: 

MC: Hi, my name is Mackenzie Colcord and I'm the host of Crayon's Product Marketing Spotlight Series. Today I have joining me Hannah Sackett, who is the Director of Product Marketing at Electric. Thanks for letting me steal a little bit of your time today, Hannah.

HS: Of course, I am really looking forward to this conversation.

MC: Awesome. Me too. So I think a really great place to start today just by telling me a little bit about your company and your career path and kind of how you ended up here at Electric. I did a little digging and I saw that you had a pivot from sales to product marketing, which I thought made a lot of sense.

HS: Yeah, absolutely. So I, as you had mentioned, I am at a company called Electric. Put simply, we are on a mission to make IT simple, accessible, and cost effective for small businesses, right? You should not have to sacrifice the security for your company and customer data, just to run your business and have some of those trade offs. So the company is about five years old. I have been with them for just about three years now, coming up next week. So very exciting. It's been incredible. This is my third time building a product marketing sort of foundation for a business from scratch. As you had mentioned, really sort of got my career start in sales, especially in outside sales. I was in the wedding industry, my first job out of college.

MC: Oh!

HS: Yeah. Yeah, it was quite wild. Anyway, I moved to New York, gosh, about seven years ago at this point and had really my first foray into B2B SaaS tech and had become really fascinated with the way in which you can adjust your pitch to who you're speaking to – what is that audience type, right? Depending on the prospect's needs and their pain points, based on their role in the industry. i was just sort of fascinated about how they made their buying decision and how storytelling around the value of your products and services played a role in that decision making process.

HS: And so, really I've been working in product marketing now, gosh, about six years. And as a discipline, I'm sure you're familiar and everyone listening knows, it's really only about 15 or years or so old. I was at the Product Marketing Alliance Summit just a couple of weeks ago and was just in awe of the fact that we now have so many resources and events, but back then, product marketing was very new. You were often the only person at your organization working in product marketing, team of one, and there was an opening to work directly for our VP of product. It was very much a product specialist role. The organization didn't have product marketing.

HS: So I was doing a little bit of product management and product marketing but didn't really know it at the time. And it was really thanks to his guidance and just sort of reading up in the industry and understanding this evolving role of product marketing, had he suggested I move into there. And so I established product marketing at Mimio, at the Muse and now at Electric. And I have a team of two, but the company is actively growing. We just raised our series D1 funding and have now formally been announced as a unicorn business. When I started the overall marketing team was four people and now we are 23 at this point.

MC: Wow.

HS: Yeah. Just incredible growth there, but sort of drawing that through line again, as you had mentioned, it's not often that you come from sales into a product marketing role, but I think one of the biggest aspects of our responsibility is the enablement of our forward facing teams, particularly sales, arming them with the knowledge and resources to close business at as high rates as possible. Having an understanding of what the sales cycle looks like and what it takes to actually close business is something that I'm able to carry with me when it comes to writing some of that positioning and messaging, particularly around collateral. And what should that collateral look like and what are prospects going to be most interested in seeing to help them make their buying decision. I'm able to bring that knowledge to my work in that area, in product marketing. So quite a bit of an overview, but hopefully that answers all of the different aspects of your question.

MC: Yeah, absolutely. And I think you're at an advantage there for sure. Being able to kind of put yourself in their shoes (these sales people) and you know the type of material that they need because you've been there.

HS: Yeah, absolutely. I've felt those pains of trying to convey a very complex product or service or series of them in a really sort of concise timeframe and manner that evokes that emotion, right? It really gets you to connect your problem to the value that the service is providing. One of the things I heard recently from a head of product marketing was that the companies that are best equipped to compete, that do the best in their space, are the ones that can market both the problem and the solution. So that's very much something that I'm keeping in mind when creating all of that collateral.

MC: Yeah, absolutely. And you kind of mentioned this, but it doesn't sound like you went to college per se, to be a product marketer – kind of kicked it off your career in sales. How do you explain what you do as a product marketer to people that might not be as familiar with the role? Because it is a newer role compared to a lot of the other marketing positions out there.

HS: Yeah, for sure. I think one of my favorite things is to just talk about how we sit at the apex of product marketing, sales and customer success. And the fact that in order to act as that driving force behind bringing a product to market, there are so many different data points, like voice of the customer that our customer success team has full knowledge of and is very intimately familiar with, that our product team is collecting from a usership perspective that our sales team is hearing about on the front lines, in terms of what's really selling, what's not, what's resonating with prospects, and from a marketing perspective, there's a variety of data points that we're collecting around. What are prospects organically searching for? Product marketing ensures that all of that information doesn't just sit in the silo, right?

HS: That it's communicated and shared throughout the organization, but that all of those data points are considered when bringing a product to market. So, yes, one of my favorite quotes is that product marketers are the greatest plate spinners in the world from the Product Marketing Alliance. But our primary function is to ensure that we are effectively bringing a products and services to market. And so, without getting caught up in all of the minutia and the variety of things that we do throughout a day, that's really where I start. And I say we are that apex, we are that highly cross-functional team that brings all of the players to bring those new products and services to market.

HS: So, yeah. Yeah. And then there's always those great diagrams that are out now that have that sort of Venn situation of all of the different teams with product marketing sitting at the center. So I find that helps as well.

MC: Yeah. Giving someone who's unfamiliar that diagram, definitely that would explain it pretty well.

HS: Yeah. It really clicks. It really clicks.

MC: Yeah, exactly. So kind of switching gears here over to competitive intelligence, I know that's something that you conduct in your role. I was just how you're kind of handling that within your organization. Are you kind of a one woman team, kind of leveraging it and distributing it out to the company?

HS: Yeah, absolutely. So I'm so excited about all the research out now around competitive intelligence and the rise of competitive intelligence teams. That said, much like product marketing, it's very early stages. And so yes, today I am a one person competitive intelligence team. Prior to bringing on Crayon, I was having to conduct all of this research on my own and the company is thirsting for it, is really, really just our market is changing fairly rapidly. For a significant period of time, we didn't have any direct competitors – that's starting to change. And so we need to be aware of what's happening in that space. We also compete in sort of a unique capacity in that we're competing against someone hiring an in-house IT person, or hiring local MSPs or managed service providers, which are small five to 10 person teams.

HS: And so it's a category of competitors, but not necessarily like, oh, okay, I can point directly to a vendor. They're starting to be a couple of other organizations. And so we're facing some unique challenges in competitive intelligence there. And so, I have been fortunate enough, we are now Crayon clients and have been so for a year. But up until that point, I was sort of crunching all of the data manually, conducting the research through review sites and industry or vendor evaluation platforms like Product Hunt, etc cetera, Owler, and the such. And it was taking a significant amount of time. And I was maybe able to produce one to two reports a year, because at that point I didn't have a full team too. So I have a full docket of product releases that I'm responsible for.

HS: My team at the time was fulfilling almost 200 enablement requests a quarter, right? So there are a lot of day to day things that we're responsible for that competitive intelligence needed to be treated as a nice to have. So thanks to Crayon, there's all of this information that's being delivered directly to me in the platform, whether it is product or feature changes, positioning and messaging updates, are there changes to the website for a specific competitor? Are they hosting an event? Have they hired a new executive? So that information's delivered to me and I can sort of boil it down and present the most important points. There's also some great impact data now I'm able to see, correlate the viewership of battle cards with how much revenue a rep is able to generate.

HS: So it has really sort of progressed leaps and bounds, but there's still so much that we can do. As a one person team I'm producing a monthly report – it's still significant, right? Because there's so much you want to cover in the same report. I produce an executive summary to make it easy to digest, but you're wanting to make sure that the product team understands what functionality changes have taken place. My team and marketing wants to understand how competitors have changed, how they're talking about their value or what types of events they're hosting.

HS: Our finance team is particularly interested in pricing and packaging. So there's a lot of different categories within competitive intelligence that I'm having to cover. And I just feel like I'm scratching the surface at this point. Crayon's already given me great tools to leverage, to show the ROI of competitive intelligence and will likely be making the case to bring on a dedicated team member on my team who, if not entirely focused on competitive intelligence, is at least an analyst for the entire marketing team, at least just start. But I could absolutely see a dedicated individual, if not a team.

HS: The other thing that I've been thinking more so about recently is it's great to know what our competitors are doing and we need to understand what changes they're making, but we also need to really fully understand our win-loss analysis and why our customers are choosing us or not choosing us. And so, frankly, while we have the monthly report and we have great data, there is more that I want to be doing around customer listening, right? And some of that win-loss data analysis. So that's it, an area I'll be diving into through the rest of the year.

MC: And it sounds like Crayon has kind of given you some time back in order to push that win-loss analysis forward, for sure.

HS: Significant, I mean, being able to go from one to two reports a year to a report every single month is pretty significant, yeah.

MC: And it keeps that data and that intel accurate and more in real-time compared to reporting on something that might have happened two months ago, it's hard to kind of pivot from that sometimes.

HS: Yes, exactly. Exactly.

MC: So what are some strategies you're using to get people to leverage CI, in their day to day, in their roles?

HS: Totally. Yeah. So starting from a sales perspective, they are thirsting for the information. However, we've all experienced this – reps are asking for something and asking for something and then sometimes it's around, and they get overwhelmed with all of the resources that are available to them. We have approached sort of a gamification aspect, so you're able to see now who of who is viewing and how often and who has generated the most revenue from a competitive perspective. So we have sort of begun a little bit of that, but I'm going to be partnering more closely with the sales leadership team to include that as part of some of their contests that they run. Sales is extremely motivated by contests.

MC: Yeah.

HS: Otherwise, the report is sent out to GMs, stakeholders across the organization. There is a summary that I've provided with specific callouts to certain teams, and really what I'm doing there is I'm relying on stakeholders within the team to then carry this information out to their team meetings, right? For discussion and application. I've also made myself available not to just reiterate or regurgitate the report, but you have questions, you want to talk through application of certain knowledge, like I'm happy to do office hours and jump into your team meeting and do some of that workshopping. So that's another area as well, and I think also our OKRs is a business, our set up, especially in a product capacity to make our product more automated, to increase engagement in certain areas, to generate a certain amount of revenue around upsells of some of our partners, right? This competitive intelligence, I point out to my partners how they can leverage it to achieve some of those goals, right? So making it tangible for them in that aspect.

MC: Absolutely. Yeah. And it sounds like you kind of have some designated CI champions throughout your organization who are kind of helping you distribute this intel and get buy in across the board.

HS: Yeah, absolutely. And that was crucial when I kicked off the competitive intelligence program, before we even brought crayon on, right? Before we even went through the evaluation process of a tool that we were using, I went through, identified the appropriate stakeholders and spoke with them about what the ideal competitive intelligence program looked like and what would be the deliverables that they'd like to see come from it and what would they actually do to apply that knowledge.

MC: And so for my last question, a little bit more fun, what does it mean to you to compete like you mean it?

HS: Yeah. Great question. So I think it goes back to the voice of the customer and being able to really clearly market that problem in partnership with the solution, right? For me, competing like you mean, it means that I'm not just presenting the same value prop over and over again. I'm not presenting the same demo over and over again. I am able to clearly understand and speak in the voice of the customer back to them, with full empathy of what their experience is and provide that clear value in a way that's unique to them, right? So put simply, it's customizing your value proposition, being able to truly, truly do that. We're looking to ensure that our website is changed depending on who you are, what industry you're in and what company you're coming from, and that we are giving you that unique experience as a prospect and a customer.

MC: Absolutely. I love that. Well, thank you so much for your time, Hannah. It was a pleasure chatting with you and I know you're a busy person, so I really appreciate that.

HS: Of course, of course. Thank you so much.

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Mackenzie Colcord
Mackenzie Colcord is a Content Marketing & Community Specialist at Crayon, the software-driven competitive intelligence platform that enables companies to create sustainable business advantages. Prior to joining Crayon, Mackenzie worked as an Account Executive at a public relations and marketing agency, Trevi Communications.