Mind The Gap, with Kristina Libby

Erik Mansur

How do you transition from being a user to the product marketer? In this episode, Nick sits down with Erik Mansur, VP of Product Marketing at Crayonto understand how to make this transition and what you need to consider.


Can you love a product so much that you market it?

In this episode, Nick is joined by Erik Mansur, VP of PMM at Crayon, to commiserate and share best practices over their experiences joining marketing leadership at companies after having used the product. They cover:

  • The pros and cons of having user empathy coming into a marketing role
  • The double-edged sword of assuming that other users are just like you
  • Examples of messaging a traditionally ‘nice to have’ product to a ‘must have’ product during a recession

If you like this episode and care about seeing how your competitive program measures up to the rest of the indsutry, check out the Crayon Competitive Program Grader.


Going from User to Marketer


Nick: Hello everybody. And welcome to Mind the Gap, Enablix’s only podcast on sales and marketing alignment. I’m your host, Nick Ziech-Lopez. And today I am joined by Erik Manser. Erik, thank you very much for being on the show.

Erik: Nick. It is a pleasure. Thank you so much for having me on mind the gap. I’m very excited to be here.

Nick: Awesome. So, um, so the theme today is going to be transitioning to marketing and product marketing from being a user. So with that in mind, could you give us just a little bit of background of, of where you’re at today and, and how you got there?

Erik: sure. Um, I have been a product marketer for a little under 10 years and my first job as a product marketer, I came from customer success, uh, was taken under, um, under the wing by a VP of marketing, uh, at a company called crayon.

I’m sorry, at a company called mannequins. Uh, that’s where I was working and. Uh, became the senior product marketing manager sat down in my chair, in my brand new department. And that VP of marketing said, Hey, I’ve got this new software that I just bought that I want you to start using. It’s called crayon.

Right? So here I am at Nanigans brand new product marketer, uh, and being sat, um, really, you know, right in front of a. A screen with competitive intelligence software, which is not something that I had necessarily been exposed to in my role in customer success. You know, I worked in advertising technology, the type of competitors we were tracking were the, you know, the, the sprinklers and the, the S and the, the, at the time Ken shoe.

And now they’re called sky. We were tracking all of, you know, what their digital footprint was out of all about within this, this platform C. Which I thought was pretty remarkable. Um, automatically ingested insights from all over the internet based on, uh, the parameters that we had had, it was, it was, it was searchable.

It was, you know, you could customizable, it was, you know, a ton of analysis you could do. It was very, very, very cool. So then I, I left, uh, this company Nanigans went to work at a different company word stream, and, um, which eventually was, you know, pulled back up into the, the corporate governance of Gnet who was the, um, the, the primary owner.

And it wasn’t until I got to the end of my tenure with Ginette. Um, did I start looking for other gigs and found a job at crayon, which was really great and really certainly helped me in the, uh, in the job interview process by saying that I am a former customer, I used to use crayon back now at this 0.6, seven, eight years ago.

So I’m now the VP of product marketing C. Competitive intelligence software platform. And I have the great benefit of being able to tell customers that I myself was a crayon user as a product marketer. Uh, back in the day I was the primary, uh, user of competitive intelligence at my company. And I used crayon to do it.

And I think that carries a little bit of weight when you’re talking with customers or even prospective customers about the fact that, you know, the guy who does product marketing, who runs product marketing for crayon is himself a former user. Um, but. I, I think what we’re about to talk about is that my usage of crayon back in the day is not necessarily the same as everybody else’s usage.

And as I’ve talked to hundreds of customers here at crayon over the past, almost two years now, about a year and a half, Uh, you know, you, you come to find out that people use your software in a different way than even you had used it when you were a user of it back in the day. Right. Um, right. So that’s a little bit of an inch deep mile wide as to my story and how I’ve gotten here and, and what I’m doing here at, at crayon.

Nick: You know, I can imagine too. Tell, tell me if this is off face, right? Right. VP product marketing. So like maybe you get pulled into more enterprise, like late stage deals or stuff like that. And it’s like the big reveal, like he was a user and it’s like, oh right. I could see, I could just see it getting set up, be like, oh, when he knows.

He bought it. Uh

Erik: well, the, the thing is, I mean, so many of our customers and the person who ultimately makes the buying decision is a, a strategic or senior product marketing leader themselves. That’s often who we sell to. So I’m brought in as a, you know, almost like as an audience avatar. So, Hey, uh, let’s get this, uh, you know, strategic product marketer talking to another strategic product marketer about competitive intelligence.

And the added bonus is I was a crayon. Back in back in the day. There’s, there’s some element of, um, you know, almost like not just, almost like third party validation, in addition to the first party validation by virtue of the fact that I, I work here now. So there’s, there’s a combination of those things.

And honestly, Nick, when I am brought into these conversations and that does, that is part of my intro as you alluded to, oh yeah, he’s a crayon. He used former crayon user. There’s something to be said, like that subtext there is that Erik wouldn’t have come to work at this company and he, if he thought this for product didn’t.

Exactly. Exactly. Like, you know, if, if think, think of a piece of software that you think sucks right now, don’t say it out loud, cuz you want people to listen to this podcast and not, you know, say Nick’s a jerk, but we can, we can edit this. I’m sure we could. Would you go to work for that company knowing what you know about the, just the pure, the user experience of the software?

Probably not. You know, you would get at the very least think twice about it. So that’s another reason why I think I’m brought into those types of conversations where it’s you. That is, that’s very much a, a proof point for, you know, the crayon experience because this guy me felt it appropriate to come work for this company.

Having had used the software for, you know, quite a bit, uh, in his, his ad tech days. Right. Right.

Nick: And, and that’s, that’s what interested me about this episode because that’s, that is pretty much my background as well. Right. Purchased Enablex uh, as the head of product marketing loved Enablex, um, It got roped into working here.

Uh, and when I say roped in, I mean, I really enjoyed the product and, and, and they enjoyed my product marketing. And so we came in, we did marketing here. Um, and so I kind of wanna contrast our experiences cuz I know it’s a little bit different. Uh, I wanna start with you first. did you feel, so when you got to cran, was it, and you started, you know, in your first few weeks as a product marketer, you talked to customers, you, you read the stories, you do all that.

Did you find it was like, oh, these are my people. Or did you find that, that maybe some of the users were like you or unlike you? What was that like?

Erik: it was really interesting, you know, so fir first thing I did was, um, we need to do a very, we need to do a better job of telling our product roadmap and vision story to customers and prospective customers because.

You can buy, you can buy the thing as is, but you also want to have an understanding of what it’s going to be in the future. You know, good example of this is, um, you know, when, when HBO max was launched, they were launched with all of the existing back catalog of HBO. But then they had this huge sizzle reel of the stuff that was going to be on it over the next, you know, year plus.

So you weren’t simply buying it for the old episodes of the Sopranos and Deadwood and game of Thrones. You were buying it for the anticipation or the prospect of getting a bunch of Warner movies that were eventually gonna end up on the platform. So, you know, the various Batman movies and DC stuff and the Harry Potter stuff, or whatever, whatever, whatever.

It was gonna end up on the platform in the future. So what I, when I said to, you know, sales leaders, customer success leaders, when I arrived here, I said, let’s start, let’s get better about telling that story. And if it, it needs to be me telling that story that just gives me a, yet another excuse to get in front of our existing customers.

So that was part of what it is that I was doing. Was I crafted this giant. Which was based in reality, I didn’t make it up about what we anticipated the future of competitive intelligence to be and how our software is going to address that. And then I got sat in front of, like I said, countless customers and, uh, both current and future customers to tell them that story.

And as I was telling the story about the things we were building within our platform, Uh, the customer success managers prior to having these conversations would say, oh, well, you really don’t need to mention that. Cuz they don’t use that aspect of the software. And I would say, oh, that’s weird. Because like that’s, to me would seem like a really big use case.

Yeah. Or another example. Oh no, actually they’d actually. Don’t really pay attention to that part of the software. They use some, use it for something different. And that’s when I started to double click and be like, tell me a little bit more about these people that don’t use sizable aspects of our software.

And that’s what got me thinking like, wow, this, this is a, you know, for competitive intelligence professionals, this can be a Swiss army knife and you don’t always need the toothpick that comes out the side. You don’t always need the, you know, the saw blade attachment, you know, you can really use. Our software for a litany of different things.

And, you know, we obviously build for the sizable portion of the use cases, but there’s plenty of other use cases that, you know, I, myself, as a, as a former end user, didn’t use it for, but there’s a lot of customers here that certainly do. Um, so that to me was really interesting. To find that out, either in the pre-conversation or the actual conversation with the customer about how they, how it is, they’re using the software to their advantage and help it.

You know how it’s it’s, it’s paying dividends for them in the long run. Right. yeah, I,

Nick: and for me it was less coming to NAVEX kind. I wasn’t really shocked at how people were using the tool. Um, I, I was, there were a lot of people that I, you know, there, obviously there were the, the edge cases where I’m like, oh, that’s really interesting.

Uh, the thing that, that surprised me and the thing that was different for me is how people bought. Uh, I came from an organization with a, with, with just the, the, where I was as a, as a professional. Um, I was able to, to kind of see a and say, oh, this solves that problem. Let’s go buy it. And what I was immediately confronted with is, is.

a lot of people not having that purchase levity or purchase parity or whatever that was, um, which unfortunately made it a lot harder for me. Like I’m expecting all these people to just like, be like, oh yeah, let’s go buy your thing. And I’m like, wait, not, everybody’s just buying this. And it’s not that they’re buying other things.

It’s that they’re taking so much longer to buy than I would’ve expected or right. Or, or they’re choosing not to buy. And I’m like, how is this not worth your time? And so for me, it was less of a feature function, more of like earlier in the, in. Case deciding what was important, like the amount of time spent looking versus the purchase price.

Um, and, and I would say that you could, you, I think people use a lot of terms for it. Almost that customer empathy got beat into me over, you know, talking to dozens of people that are like, oh, this is gonna be a six month decision. I’m like, why, why would you

Erik: do that to yourself? Yeah. Yeah. Um, I mean, I think about it this way.

We, we have pride ourselves on creating. Competitive intelligence tools that help customers, uh, capture competitive insights, analyze them and curate them into competitive intelligence and then activate them throughout their organization. Right? So three pronged approach capture, analyze, activate, and the expectation is the average customer is gonna do all three of those things.

They’re gonna use the software to capture insights, to analyze them and activate. , but what we’ve found is that some people just love the insights. They wanna pull that stuff in. They wanna take those data points. They want to analyze. They may not necessarily ever use our tools to activate them. They may use any number of different existing pathways within their own organization to help activate that intelligence.

Or we work with a lot of companies that don’t have, uh, you know, boots on the ground sales teams. So they’re basically using our tools and technology to capture and analyze. But the end result of that is not. You know, a battle card or a dashboard or, or a newsletter that again, can be activated within our tools.

It’s like a, a quarterly competitive dossier that runs up to the CEO of a fortune 50 fortune 100 company, right. That helps them make better strategic decisions. That’s the core use case of the software. So that to me, when you say, oh gosh, why was this buying cycle so long? If someone’s coming across our transom and wants to, you know, kick the tires on our software, if their ultimate end use case is not just a tactical, you know, give, give a, a SAS salesperson, the ability to, to, to par competitive, um, uh, conversations and, and do better about it and better understand their market landscape.

If the actual end use case is supplying the CEO and the rest of the C-suite and perhaps the board with competitive data. That’s, that’s not gonna be a three month buying cycle. That’s gonna be quite lengthy. And when we’re working with some of the, the customers that we’re working with now in a very, very, very upper echelon, uh, enterprise space, you know, you’re talking about, you know, some of the first, uh, 3, 4, 5 letters on the stock tickers.

You realize that this is not gonna be just a sort of fly by night, easy decision, you know, that it’s gonna have to take some time for it to get through corporate governance, get a ton of approvals all the way up the food chain in order to say, yeah, we, we feel confident in making an investment of a tool of this nature, because that is gonna be the tip of the spear for a ton of strategic decision making, moving forward.

Nick: That’s actually a thing I’ve always really liked about with my knowledge of, of, of cran and really your, your industry, right? Like the tools like yours. So when you, when you compare and contrast that to what Enablex does, like, if you just, I believe correct me if I’m wrong, I don’t wanna go too deep down the product hole here.

You just turn cran on and it’s giving you something, right. You’re getting insights. Like you just, you kind of, you say, Hey, these are the companies that’s giving you something. I think with content. It’s that’s that that’s almost an imagined hill for many people like, okay, we have to get, because it’s our internal content and no matter how good your integrations are, no matter how.

And I think that that time to value rate, a lot of people talk about that. Like every product marketer talks about that. I think that that coming to enables. From my organization. I was like, oh yeah, that’s a, that’s a one week hill. Like I don’t, I literally don’t care about that hill. For many people that time to value is, is very important.

And they, I, they can’t get past that. We, or we weren’t messaging it well at the time. Whereas with a crayon, it’s like, Hey, you get some of the value right away. And then you keep getting more and more and more. And it’s almost like this really, uh, I don’t cool thing putting your product, but to your point, some people they’re just fine with that day, one stuff.

And then to, to build on that, that they couldn’t get.

Erik: well, we’re also finding too, and I found this even in the ad tech space, right? Like we, I was working with a customer in the tail end of my ad tech days and was talking about how I was departing and going to a different company. And you know, this guy, CEO of a, of a advertising technology agency, digital advertising agency said, you know, when we bought your software, We expected it to make our lives easier buying ads on Facebook, but what we didn’t realize it was going to come along with all of this, uh, knowledge and all of this capability that came from the people who worked there.

Like you guys taught us how to advertise on Facebook, not just taught us how to advertise on Facebook, using your tool. And I think that is something that you’ll get instant time to value with a tool itself. But the longer term time to value comes from the education and how the tool itself can actually influence the process.

So you’re absolutely right with any one of these, you know, competitive intelligence software solutions. You’re gonna be able to see insights come in. Sometimes, you know, depending on the, the software solution, the insights are better or, or not as robust, but you’re gonna be able to see an insight, but in a competitive insight is not competitive intelligence like that needs to.

curated in some capacity, I need to be able to say to my sales team, what this link actually means, what this article is actually saying, what it means to us. So. What we find is that yeah, sure. There’s a, a one, two week, you know, initial, oh my gosh. These are awesome. These aha moments as they start showing up within your insights feed, but it does take time to sort of say to a competitive intelligence professional.

Oh, there’s more you can do with this, or, Hey, this insight actually should go next to this insight that actually provides more context. Now, suddenly you’ve got competitive intelligence. Right. And I think about it, you know, not like a John LaRay novel, but almost like spycraft right. One, one thing that one of your sources will tell you may not necessarily be con consequential on its own, but that little piece of Intel, plus another little piece of Intel, plus another little piece of Intel, suddenly you start building a narrative.

That to me is competitive intelligence. And that is the thing to your point, Nick, where, um, you know, comparing, enable to crayon. That is the thing that takes a little bit more time. That’s the thing that says, oh, okay, now I get it. Now it’s just no more just, oh, this one announcement that, that a, that a, uh, a competitor’s going to make that’s that’s valuable, but combine that announcement with the three months of blog posts that came before and the, you know, four rounds of hiring that they’ve just done like, oh wow.

Now there’s a. And if I had seen those things that happened before the announcement, I could have anticipated the announcement. And that is the thing that dawns on people. They’re like, oh my gosh, like I could have predicted this announcement and probably predicted the day the announcement happened. If I had just been reading the tea leaves and recognizing that the hiring patterns and what the content marketing team was putting out like that is the thing that just blows people’s mind.

So for you, it’s more of, uh, you know, in the sales and Ince space, it’s more of. How do we get our content in here? Tag it, add taxonomy, you know, be able to roll that out to the sales team. That’s the. For us, it’s more of a, a knowledge, oh, this is the way this is the cool ways I could use this by using our software to connect the dots, as opposed to just looking at the dots themselves.

Right. Does that make sense?

Nick: Like going beyond going beyond information to education, to that point of saying now that person knows those things. Yep. So, so let me ask you, you know, kind of wrapping up this first thread, what, you know, what, what are your thoughts for people that are going to take marketing and product marketing positions at companies they love.

Or flip it, people that have companies they love that want to get into positions like that. Uh, any advice like things that, that you think worked for you or, or didn’t work for you when, when, when making that transition from user to, to marketer and communicator. .

Erik: I mean, I, I, I will say don’t make the mistake that I made was going in thinking that everybody uses the software the same way, you know, even on its surface, if it appears like, oh, this would be the right way to use the use the tool.

You’re gonna very quickly find out that there are people that are using it in a completely different way. I watch a lot of cooking stuff on, uh, on the internet and, you know, nominally, the way you would use a sauce pan is by putting the bottom part down on the burner. And then you like cook stuff inside the pan.

Well, there’s all this whole ration of videos now where people are making CPEs and things on the backside of the pan. They’re literally putting the pan with the, the, the open side down on the top of the burner, because it’s a very flat surface. On the, on the top, it sort of curves towards the bottom. So I’ve seen countless videos of people making crepes and, you know, things like that by flipping the pan over.

And I’m not sure that any like pan manufacturers had any intention of their, their tools being used that way. Right. So, you know, people are ultimately problem solvers. right And if you provide them with a great tool to help them solve their problem, they’re gonna use it in different ways and help to, in order to help them achieve that end.

And it could be the way that you had intended to build it. And you had intended it to be used, but going into a, job for piece of software that you like with the open mind to know that, Hey, you may be solving your problem in a particular way with this. tool But don’t discount the fact that others may be flipping the pan over and cooking their crepes in a completely different way.


Nick: Flip. So by the way, the, I mean, the episode of this might be, uh, the episode huddle might be flipping the pan because that was really good. And honestly, the only thing I have to add to that is, is we should be calling them

Erik: pan manufacturers. Yes. I agree. , that’s a missed, opportunity’s absolutely a missed opportunity for the, for the cookware industry, honestly.


Nick: really is. Yeah. We,

Erik: they need, they need better product marketing if we’re honest that,

Nick: okay. Listen, if they need anything. Yeah, yeah. Uh, uh, Jay Ken Lopez, call him up and there you go. We love what you’re doing, but you’re not using near enough puns. I agree. Um, so, um, I, I, so, you know, we are, we’re a 20 minute mark here.

Um, Kind of going forward. I, I want your thoughts. You know, I think a lot of people in as much as cran is very successful and cran helps thousands or hundreds or thousands. I actually don’t know the, the number of companies do their do, do what they need to do. It is, it can be seen in a lot of ways.

Competitive intelligence period can be seen almost as a nice to have. Like if you it’s a thing that helps you sell better. But, but might not make or, or break your stack. Right. Whereas a CRM really isn’t, you ha you kind of have to have a CRM. If you don’t have a CRM, you, you’re not able to effectively, um, going into, you know, a period of time where a lot of people I think are, are nervous about software buying.

I saw a report today that, that speaking of CRM, even Salesforce, is seeing that people are spending longer to make the same decisions. A year or 2, 3, 4 years ago. Mm-hmm . How, how do you think about selling those quote unquote, nice to have products in, during a downturn. Does your messaging change, does how you think about the company change?

I’m just interested in your thoughts on that.

Erik: Um, It’s a good question. I, I think about it this way, and obviously we’re not using this type of imagery, uh, in our marketing, but, um, you could, you could see it happen. You know, if you, if you ever watch our planet on Netflix, you know, you’ll often see, like there will inevitably in, in one or more of the episodes, Like when they go out to the, to the, the Outback, the Serengeti mm-hmm , and it’s like prides of lions who are trying to, you know, take down will to beast.

And I Becks and things like that when the food supply runs low, that’s when the, the lion prides get a little nastier, right. Things get a little more intense your competition by its very nature is going to increase. So during fallow periods, during times where, you know, every dollar counts. You need competitive intelligence to make sure the other guys don’t take that dollar.

You, you know, there is, there is a way to, to, to, to sell above the fray and sell, Hey, we’re the only solution needed to pay attention to apropo of having any competition in this space. But I think most sales leaders now are coming to realize that, you know, you are not only are you competing dollar for dollar, for other solutions to the exact same thing, but you’re also comparing for share of budget for tangential and sort of, uh, related solutions.

Right? if you’re a sales leader and you have a choice between renewing with your sales enablement tool, your revenue intelligence tool. So your chorus are gone, your competitive intelligence tool. Um, perhaps like now talking, you know, getting into the social media management and observation tools, the throat Sweetss and the, the melt waters and things like that is a huge tech stack that.

You know, at some point you have to say, you know, can we either hire a person to do this or give additional work to somebody to make them do whatever it is manually, uh, or, you know, can we, can we come up with some sort of internal solution? Can we just do sales enablement using Google drive or using confluence or something like that?

Right. Those are the type of decisions that have to get made at executive levels within executive buying groups. So for me, When you are looking at this moment where, you know, there may be an economic downturn, there may be a recession. Don’t use the R word, but there may be a recession. You know what we’re trying to tell potential customers is that right now, your competition is trying to scrounge around, not just for the dollars that are owed to you, but the dollars that are owed to everybody else in tangentially related spaces.

Wouldn’t you want to pay attention to. Your biggest competitors, those that represent existential threats to your business, winning more deals now is more crucial than ever. So I think this is one of those things that is not a nice to have, but a must have, as you know, the, the amount of dollars in the center of the pot are actually decreasing.

because people are making those type of decisions. You want to be able to stand out in front of not just your competition, but the perceived competition, the tangential competition that’s competing. for the budget in your space. So again, we’re not using the type of imagery of, you know, lions picking over dead will to beast, but don’t know why not, but we’ll talk about that

Nick: later.

Erik: But we are trying to instill the sense of urgency, where as budgets are D decreasing, wri large, you wanna be able to maintain that, that, that budget. And you wanna be able to take that from wherever you possibly can, and that means taking away from your competitors and that’s the right call, you know?

Yeah. Yeah.

Nick: And, and, and that’s an interesting way of looking at it. It’s not just the, the things that do what you do. It’s the things. Could do what you do, or the things that touch what you do, that, that there is a, if the pie gets smaller, how can you not be the first? Or if you get rid of three things, how can you be that fourth thing or whatever that is, where, where now you and, and that’s, and that’s what,

Erik: that’s what you do.

Well, we exist in a world of super tools and point solutions, right? The super tools are gonna be able to, to build features very quickly that are gonna be able to help them retain customers and make them, you know, keep them from running to point solutions. And the point solutions are gonna, can continue to expand and get better and better and better and improve their product at the point where the super tools can’t keep up.

Right. So, you know, you’re gonna have, there’s always gonna be sales. And Salesforce is gonna have their own marketing tools. And then there’s HubSpot and HubSpot’s gonna appeal to a particular, um, particular subset. And those two things are gonna be competing. But Calendarly or chili Piper, for example, those are the, the meeting scheduling that bolts onto your calendar.

You know, every sales rep has their own personal webpage or you can, you know, book meetings, whatever it’s easy, you know, Salesforce and HubSpot offer tools just like that. But they’re part of their super tools. They’re not point solutions. And that’s what chili Piper and Calendly are trying to do is trying to.

You know, no use us, don’t use the, the free tools that you’re, because they’re just not nearly as robust their add-ons their extra stuff and right. For those type of companies, the point solutions. You’re not just competing. Cal’s not just competing against chili Piper. They’re competing against HubSpot because HubSpot’s already the marketing technology of record within a company.

At some point, you know, senior leader, industry leader could say, yeah, you know what we are, we’re gonna cancel our, our coly, or we’re not gonna move forward with this, you know, buying process with one of these tools because we just get this for free already with HubSpot. We’ll just roll this out to the sales team instead.

So that is, I think is becoming much more. Uh, much more prevalent, uh, within the SAS space specifically, but, but also more broadly, you know, where you, you’re basically not just competing against somebody else who does the same thing as you, but you’re competing against somebody who might do something similar to you or have an add on or bolt on or additional feature.

That might be perceived within the space as the same thing as you, but, but far less expensive cuz I already pay for it. Right,

Nick: right, right. Right. And even, and, and a lot of times they’ll admit, well, this is 70% is good, but that’s good enough. Right? Like, like you see a lot of that, almost messaging with those bolt-ons of like, do you really need the.

And it, and it’s up to the consumer. Um, I, I, you know, we’re, I like we are, are, we are in the middle of doing, uh, somewhat of a similar thing where, where we, we are creating a learning module. Right. A lot of people want content, but, and so our whole thing is like, no, we are not as good as a lot of those LMSs.

Do you need, like, is that the use case you’re going for? Or do you need to speed up onboarding, right. Mm-hmm and you, you kind of find that. And I, I think that, that you try to find your ICP or whatever that, that is in that swirl and, and try to meet them. Where they are, um, yeah, with the kinds of features of functionalities they need, um, functionality.

Um, before we go, I am interested. You are, you sit at the heart of product marketing for a competitive intelligence tool. Um, there’s a lot of change in there, right? We’re seeing rev op get super important where maybe two years ago, three years ago, we weren’t seeing it see a competitive intelligence itself, important product marketing.

I, you said you’ve been in it for nearly 10 years. I want, you know, I that’s at this point in the industry 10 years, that’s kind of like long for product marketing, isn’t it like, it’s kind of, so you’ve seen the ascent. What do you see looking forward? You know, one to five years down the line, what are some changes that you see coming down the, the pike, just in the entire revenue facing space?

Erik: So I think Forrester, uh, back in 2007, Basically stopped calling what we do, product marketing. They started calling it portfolio marketing because what ends up happening is product marketing becomes the catchall for anything that isn’t demand gen isn’t content isn’t, you know, social media like, oh, product marketing can do that.

Uh, became the, sort of the common refrain around enterprise businesses. So suddenly. Product marketing became portfolio marketing. Now I think over the past, call it five years. Uh, out of product marketing has, has grown sales enablement as its own job function. And you know, this more than anybody. You’re selling into companies that either product marketing owns sales enablement.

It’s just another thing that the portfolio marketer does or sales enablement is something that bolts into sales. It is a free to five person team. All they do is craft collateral and, you know, build training modules and make sure that five to 500 to a thousand person sales team globally is extremely well equipped to exceed their revenue goals.

Right. That is, that was born out of a need and sort of. Grew from the, uh, you know, through, through myosis or mitosis, whatever, whatever the, the term is for the Atos separating that grew from portfolio marketing. I don’t think that’s going to change. I think there’s gonna be more and more of these types of things that will grow from within product marketing and expand and, and become its own, uh, its own, you know, department.

And I think that competitive intelligence is gonna be one of those things. I think that over time you’re gonna see the. The bigger companies that are more established are going to either spin up their own competitive intelligence team within the product marketing organization. And we’re seeing that a ton these days, or, um, in the same way that sort of product marketing gave up sales enablement to report into sales into the revenue leader.

You’re gonna find that competitive intelligence is gonna be given up by product marketing and it’s gonna report into a strategic leader. Yeah. So you’re head of business development, your chief strategy officer, whatever it is because suddenly competitive intelligence becomes less about supporting the tactical areas of the organization.

Hey. Can I influence the product team and let them know what my competitor is building based on what I see when I read within the tee leaves, can I build a better battle card for the sales team to use when they’re selling in our competitor? And now more of the, the stuff we were talking about earlier in the show where my gosh, like this is information that can actually truly empower strategic decision making at the top.

what company are we gonna buy this year? We just took on a huge round of funding. We got, we got cash burning up our pockets. We need to be making strategic acquisition. Who’s the right company to buy. What kind of pre-vetting can we do before we even start having the conversations before we even start doing our to real due diligence, can we do some initial due diligence to say, Hey, that seems like the right call to make.

And I think that that competitive intelligence is going to emerge from within product marketing. It will grow bigger within the portfolio marketing space to begin with, but it will eventually start to emerge and start to become its own department, probably reporting into strategy, which will internet.

Report directly into the C-suite and, and provide so much more impact throughout the organization than just some of the tactical stuff that we see and that have some, the initial buying moments, uh, for, for tools like ours. Right. Does that make

Nick: sense? Yeah. And no, it really makes sense because the way I think about it too, and, and this is a, this is getting less and less popular, but I do like a model where product marketing does sit within product.

Um, a lot of people have kind of swung back and listen as the head of, as head of marketing. I now don’t like it, but, but I like the theory of it because what you get in the world that you talked about is you get, if you have a fairly powerful autonomous product organization, you have strategy whose job it is to.

What ki not, not what features do we build, but, but what kinds of capabilities do we need to invest in mm-hmm and what is everybody else doing? You effectively own the high level roadmap and competitive intelligence sitting under that, that transition to product management, which says what features and capabilities, like what, what actual features are we gonna build?

And then that flows down to product marketing, which says, all right, how are we gonna talk about this thing that we just built? Right. And when you, when you put it all on the same team, you kind of get a coherence. But that strategy is super important. And I think that strategy is something that a lot of organizations have been viewing very differently for a while.

Right? Like when you think of, of strategy, it’s, you know, sometimes like you even, almost sometimes get into the software development life cycle of like, what kind of company are we gonna be? But for me, I see a really clean line of, uh, more like, like you said more strategic, but what is everybody else doing?

And where should we invest? And you can measure that on things like win loss percentage and number of new sales and new eras, right? These are all things that can exist a little bit outside of. Number go up in revenue. Mm-hmm because I think that’s where, to your point, that’s where this gets hairy is when all the numbers are going up.

It’s great to say that everybody’s doing a great job sales. Enablement’s doing great product. Marketing’s doing a great as the numbers, start to flatten and maybe go up less or maybe sometimes go down a little bit. Yeah. How do you know if people are doing a great job, right? This sales enablement, or sales, this is the competitive intelligence or sales.

That’s why I like kind of to what you said this separation of saying no, these guys are gonna worry about how well we do against. And even if revenue does, it goes down, but we’re winning more of our deals in a certain area. I know you did

Erik: a good job. Good job. So to speak. I, I, um, I think I like the way you mentioned the, this idea of, um, strategic product develop.

And I’ve, I’ve worked with CPOs chief product officers that they don’t want to come up with the features. They wanna identify the problems that they wanna solve next. Right. Mm-hmm so that’s where the strategy comes in. It’s. Do we do we, what is the, what is the, either our user’s problem or the problem for a, a different user that we want to help to solve.

And that’s how you sort of expand and get out, uh, from, from within your lane and perhaps, you know, you know, it grow to encompass other lanes. And that’s when your strategic product leaders underneath that, you know, primary chief strategy officer, chief product officer, uh, who’s strategically focused, starts building the features that solve those problems.

So I really, I think that’s the difference is that, you know, it’s identifying what problems to solve and then building the product to help do it. So when you saying building product marketing and having them report into product. Customer empathy is what makes product marketing different than demand generation than content marketing.

We, we inherently know what the problems are right now. So when you start to, to meld in and start to bring in that sort of notion of customer empathy, And start to help that help influence strategy. That’s when you can say, well, what other problems can we solve? Not just the ones that we already know about, what other, what other issues, what other challenges can we help address?

And that’s where I think that’s a really good point. Nick, is that, um, that you, you sort of want to have a product marketing, always has a voice, but have a even louder voice to help influence what happens next. What, what happens after this? You know, mm-hmm does that make.

Nick: yeah. Yeah, no, it, it absolutely does.

And it, I, I think that, you know, when it comes to the, the tough part about that, that I understand yeah. Is, is saying how, how to that point of just like how, you know, how do you know if the product marketer’s doing a good job, then mm-hmm how do you know mm-hmm and I, but I, I think that’s always gonna be a little tough.

I then say, well, you know, okay, you move it back a little bit. What if in that scenario, What if your customers are like your partners are your customers and your customers are the sales and marketing team. What do you need to be successful? You tell me, cuz this is what I’m gonna put together for the product launch, but what do you actually need?

Because I’m working with the customer to give them what they need now, but what are about the people we don’t know? Right? Like mm-hmm, you, you go into a lot of different ways there there’s, you know, uh, people organize companies, many, many, many different ways. They’re far smarter than me, but, but, but to that point, that’s what I see.

Um, Hey, so it’s it’s, this has been a good conversation. This is one of our longer episodes. And I’m sorry about that, but this, uh, we have, we have gone in a lot of really interesting ways here, but before we break, uh, anything to plug anything to, to mention to, uh, other people listening.

Erik: yes. So one of the things that, that we do once a year, every year is our, um, uh, uh, state of competitive intelligence.

So it is, it is the, you know, we’ve done it for six or seven years. Now. We, we pull and survey hundreds of product marketers all over the world to get a. Sort of an inch deep mile wide and the state of competitive intelligence as an industry. Um, we have a trove of data. Uh, over these past seven years, um, people identifying themselves as product marketers and talking about their challenges and, and really what it is, what it is that that really matters to them.

Um, and we are now using that for something more than just a content deliverable. So we’ve rolled out something called our competitive program greeter. So crayon.co/competitive hyphen program, hyphen greeter, and based on the data that we’ve acquired over these past, uh, six, seven years. From, you know, real product marketers.

It’s a 13 question quiz for any product marketer to take, to help grade their competitive intelligence program. You know, give, give me a, a letter grade or at the very least give me some guidance as to what I should do in order to get myself to the next level. It takes about five minutes. It’s no time at all.

And at the end, you’re actually given quite literally a, you know, a step by step series of instructions. You know, what you, what you can do to make improvements. So we’ll tell you what you’re doing. Great. We’ll tell you where you’ve got room from improvement, how you can execute on opportunities for improvement and really.

Based on this TRO data, we have how your competitive intelligence program stacks up to others so that we are rolling out this week. It’s very, very, very exciting. Um, it’s gonna help us, you know, provide some additional guidance again, completely for free to product marketers all over the world. They don’t need to buy our software to get a, a grade and get guidance.

It just it’s free. Um, crayon.co. Competitive hyphen program hyphen greater. And you can take that assessment instantly, um, and get an understanding as to where you are on the spectrum and, you know, little bullet points and things that you can do immediately to help improve that program. So really excited about that.

Something we are rolling out, uh, this week and, uh, um, it’s gonna be very, very.

Nick: I’m I’m, I’m sure that, that, uh, I’m excited to see that I’m sure that that was quite an undertaking. We will have a link to that on the podcast page for anybody listening. Uh, you’ll be able to see that, but, uh, excited to see how that turns out.

And honestly, thank you very much for the discussion. This was a lot of fun. Ladies, gentlemen, Erik Mansur.

Erik: It has been an absolute pleasure, Nick. Thank you so much longtime listener and uh, glad to be a guest. So. Appreciate this. Thank you so much.

Nick: This has been mind the gap, a podcast about sales and marketing alignment put on by Les.

My name is Lopez. Thanks

Erik: for listening.