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Product Marketing Spotlight Series: Melanie Grefsheim

Grefsheim_HeadshotCrayon's Product Marketing Spotlight is an 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 Melanie Grefsheim , Product Marketing Manager at RainFocus.

ED: What is your role, and what does your company do?

MG: I am a Product Marketing Manager responsible for understanding customers, markets, and how RainFocus products solve pain points while crafting go-to-market messaging that generates awareness and interest, enables sales, and excites customers. 

RainFocus is a next-generation event marketing platform built from the ground up to capture, analyze, and harness an unprecedented amount of data for significantly better events and conferences. As a true SaaS platform, RainFocus simplifies event registration, content management, exhibitor activation, and onsite experiences from a single dashboard. Save time, increase engagement, and maximize event value for every event.

ED: Tell me a little bit about your career. What led up to you becoming a product marketer at RainFocus? What sparked your interest in Product Marketing?

MG: I have two degrees; one in Scientific Communications and the other in International Development. While they aren’t related to product marketing, they taught me valuable research skills and how to solve and communicate complex issues. I began my career focused on research, grant management, and marketing for an international agricultural development non-profit. I then moved to marketing for engineering and working with engineering students to improve communication skills as they launched their careers.

I was eager for change and for a career path to tackle complex business issues, so I moved to Utah for my first product marketing role at a fintech enterprise. This was a great experience overall that taught me how transferrable my skill set was from the academic world to the business world. It was transformational for me and my career, and was a great crash course into the world of product marketing. Utah has a plethora of tech companies, and I was lucky enough to find RainFocus during a major growth phase for the company. My jump to RainFocus allowed me to dive deeper into product marketing, grow professionally, and further refine my career trajectory. 

My interest in product marketing was sparked by knowing other product marketers. Hearing the issues they were solving, the company-wide collaboration they did, and the impact the role had got me excited. I realized this was something that I wanted to be a part of. And now, as a product marketer, I love that the job is never mundane! It’s fun to think differently on each project, whether it’s competitive intelligence and distilling it down for sales or working on messaging and strategy with the marketing team. The impact product marketing can have and the value it brings to teams is what fuels my passion.

ED: How has your day-to-day been impacted by current events? Has it impacted the way you execute on a product launch or refreshed messaging?

MG: As RainFocus is in the events industry, it has felt the impact of COVID-19. Many of our clients have had to cancel, postpone, or pivot their events for the year and into next year as well. This has created a great challenge, but also a riveting time to be in product marketing to help solve new problems the industry is facing. As a company, we’ve had to work quickly and creatively to adapt to the ever-changing situation in the market.

For product marketing, the implications ripple through all areas of my job. I’ve shifted my time to researching new markets and competitors and distilling that quickly to sales. I’ve worked tirelessly to launch a new COVID-driven product line from scratch, complete with its own messaging strategy, collateral, and product features to share. I’ve also refocused my time to rely more heavily on customer feedback and working group intel, win/loss analysis, and communication with training and services teams.

Despite working in a remote capacity now, I can honestly say that the act of bringing this product to market was not as impacted by COVID as you might think. While being remote is something new for our organization, I thrive with new challenges, and it’s caused me to think of new ways to streamline our operations. I lean heavily on tools focused on collaboration like Slack and Zoom, and I’ve reimagined how to host brainstorming and weekly status update sessions.

ED: How do you incorporate competitive intelligence into your role?

MG: Competitive intelligence is a huge component of my job and my weekly duties. One of the best tools for my CI efforts is the Daily Insights email from Crayon. I build reading those into my morning routine and disseminate key pieces of intel when applicable. I also love using the Battlecards and work to keep those updated weekly.

Beyond keeping tabs on competitors, I work with product owners and UX designers researching potential features and ideas we’re discussing as a team. Research into what everyone else is doing, what the industry is needing next, what the price points are, and more. It’s a fun challenge to keep an ear to everything happening in the industry!

ED: How is your product marketing team organized, and how does that help you focus on different product marketing goals?

We are a small but mighty product marketing team focused on the end-to-end value for product lines. We are each responsible for the competitive intelligence, full GTM strategy and launches, collateral creation, product ideation, and more for every product line within RainFocus. This structure keeps us busy, but allows us to each dig deep and become the expert for our respective areas.

ED: How do you measure product marketing success?

MG: Great question! One of the biggest measures of success for me is usefulness and tying every question to a specific KPI. Are my Battlecards being used? Is the sales enablement truly helping sales? Is my research uncovering valuable insights? Are we creating product features customers need? Are we solving pain points for the industry? Taking a step back and thinking about those questions helps me maintain my focus as a product marketer and measure the effectiveness of it.

ED: How do you define what product marketing is to non-product marketers?

MG: Product marketing is working at the intersection of product, sales, and marketing (and to some extent, services and finance too). Being a PMM provides a unique opportunity to work cross-departmentally the majority of the time by helping each group understand the industry pain points, key messages, and strategy. Product marketers have the privilege to work strategically at a high-level, but also tactically within each group, and it keeps the job exciting.

ED: What is something you wish you knew earlier in your career?

MG: It’s okay to change your mind. I have done international development research, agri-marketing, university marketing, and now I work as a Product Marketing Manager for a SaaS company! Each chapter of my career taught me new skills, gave me new perspectives, and led me to where I am now. It wasn’t exactly a straight line to get to where I am, but that’s okay. Figure out what you’re interested in and follow that direction.

ED: What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

MG: Don’t sell yourself short, and don’t be afraid to speak up. As a young woman in tech, it took me longer to feel confident about my seat at the table. Strong mentors in the product marketing field helped me to see this difference as my competitive advantage and that my perspective is just as valuable.

ED: When you’re not hard at work, what’s your favorite thing to do?

MG: This year, I built out a Sprinter Van complete with kitchen, bedroom area, and an “office” for camping in the mountains, out in the desert, and for epic road trips. I love spending as much time out in nature as possible, and now I can even “work from home” in my van home!

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Emily Dumas
Emily Dumas is a product marketer who leads content strategy at ZoomInfo, a global leader in modern go-to-market software, data, and intelligence. Prior to joining ZoomInfo, she spent several years on the Crayon marketing team.