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Product Marketing Spotlight Series: Anand Patel

anandCrayon'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 Anand Patel, Senior Product Marketing Manager at TeamSnap.

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

AP: I am a Product Marketer at TeamSnap, a sports management platform. We provide solutions to help sports organizers take the work out of play—because sports should be fun. This includes everything from registration and payment collection, to schedules and gameday communication.

ED: Tell me a little bit about your career. What led up to you becoming a product marketer at TeamSnap?

AP: To be honest, my career started off a little bumpy. I finished undergrad with a degree in Electrical Engineering but knew that it wasn’t the path for me. I wanted to blend my analytical and creative sides and therefore found myself doing contract marketing roles after graduation, specifically online and social marketing. I eventually landed in product management by complete accident. I took a role to manage social media for a small SaaS company, but that shifted into product management within the first few weeks. I had no idea what product management was, and with a small remote team (3-4 full-time people), I basically self-taught myself along the way—with a ton of Googling, of course. 

Long story short, I moved around between marketing and product management roles, before finding myself in product marketing. I ended up at TeamSnap because I loved the people and culture from my very first interaction with them. 

ED: What sparked your interest in product marketing?

AP: I was recruited to join Paysafe as a Product Marketer to bridge the gap between Product and Marketing. Prior to this, I had been a product manager at a few small startups, as well as held other marketing roles, but never formally been a PMM. I assumed I would eventually find my way back to product management, but I fell in love with product marketing. I love that you get to really focus on your customer and market, and weirdly, I really enjoy positioning and messaging. It’s super interesting to me, and I feel like it’s an ever-evolving thing, no matter what company you’re at. 

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?

AP: Being in youth and organized sports, we have definitely been affected by COVID and the current climate. Sports went on pause back in March, and we had to adjust our approach to help customers find ways to utilize TeamSnap for virtual practices and training. But even with everything going on in the world, we noticed that people continued to use TeamSnap to communicate and coordinate among their teams and organizations.  

Now with sports making a comeback, we have been focused on helping our customers and users return to sports safely. And our messaging and marketing reflect this. 

We are creating content to help sports organizers return with confidence, we are using our 1st-party data to show activity across different regions and sports in North America, and we recently launched a brand new Health Check feature to allow organizations and teams to manage health screenings prior to each practice or game. 

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

AP: We are still trying to figure out the best approach after some COVID restructure. We currently have three PMMs, with two of us focused on our sports business, and another focused on brand partnerships. We tend to have two key types of customers and buyers on the sports business side of things, those that are focused on organizational growth and operations, and those focused on the logistics of the season. We are separating our focus by these two types of buyers, as well as the products and features that align with their needs. It’s still a work-in-progress, but it allows us to focus on our customer’s needs based on their role and use cases. 

ED: How do you measure product marketing success?

AP: I previously wrote about the 4 components of the product marketing loop, and I actually have a KPI for each.

Understand the market and customer

Understanding the customer and market is at the base of everything product marketing does, so for me personally, one of the primary KPIs for any Product Marketer should be the # of customer and market engagements (per week, month, or quarter). This could be interviewing customers, sitting in on a sales call, doing competitor research, or just reading reviews. There are many ways to engage with the market and learn about customers. 

Take a product to market

Product revenue is the metric to focus on here. This is a shared metric, with many other teams like Sales and Marketing, but it is definitely one that Product Marketing can and should influence. And let’s be honest, it’s the KPI that business leaders will care about the most. 

But the reason why it’s relevant for product marketing, aside from the business focus, is that revenue is a strong indicator of a thoughtful and well-researched GTM strategy. 

Enable internal teams

How well can you arm and equip Marketing and Sales to succeed at their jobs? If we have enabled them to understand the ideal customer, the position we play, and the reason we provide value, then we should be having an impact on lead acquisition rates and win rates. So those are definitely KPIs to keep an eye on, although also shared with other teams.

Optimize product adoption

An objective and KPI many leave out is adoption and usage. If you are targeting the right customers and providing a great experience, people should be using your product and features. As I like to say, we do not build products to sell them, we build them so people can use them and get value from them. This requires adoption!

And it may seem like an on-going theme, but adoption too is a shared metric, typically with Product and Customer Success.  

ED: Which resources (books, blogs, podcasts, etc.) have been the most impactful throughout your career?

AP: So I will start with Twitter. I have met and connected with some amazing people there. 

Another common answer is probably Sharebird and PMA (Product Marketing Alliance) but those two communities are really amazing resources for both new and seasoned Product Marketers. 

And there are a ton of podcasts and books I could recommend. A few podcasts that I currently listen to are Marketing Trends, How I Built This and more recently, Product Marketing Experts. As for books (or audiobooks in my case), a few recent ones I’ve enjoyed are Made to Stick, Predictably Irrational, and Influence.

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

AP: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. 

If you ask my teammates, they will tell you that I ask a lot of questions. But I wasn’t always that way. Being new in the workforce, you tend to be more cautious and careful when you speak up or ask questions. But as a product marketer, it’s imperative that you ask questions to learn more about the who, what, why, and how. 

Product marketers should be curious and skeptical. They should question things. They should disagree with ideas. And they should never take anything at face value. Or as a past CPO once told me, product marketers should be a thorn in the side of product managers [or really anyone for that matter].

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

AP: See above. Ask questions!

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

AP: I’m a huge sports fan, so I’m usually watching some sort of game on TV. My wife was so happy when all professional sports were on pause during the early stages of COVID, but I’m glad to have the NBA and MLB back!

Other than that, my wife and I are trying to break the bad habit of binging TV shows. No success yet.

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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.