Name: Tyler Zeman
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Title: Director of Product Marketing
Education: Bachelor’s Degree, Arizona State University
Social handles: tylerzeman.com, Twitter, LinkedIn
Tell us about your path into the tech world and your product marketing role.
Sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know… right? I was plateauing in a prior career in banking. I needed to get into something that better matched my native genius. I reached out to a friend who had recently gotten a job at an exciting and rapidly growing tech company. She explained what her role was (& what that actually meant). It was the combination of creativity, word snobbery & techy geek that I needed. Soon after, I started as an entry level product marketer. Years later, I’ve done product marketing for a handful of SaaS tech companies and am even more confident that I’m doing what I’m meant to.
How did you know product marketing was for you?
I was fortunate to begin my career in product marketing working under incredible leadership. My manager & CMO were big believers in the value of product marketing as well as my personal abilities. This fostered an incredible incubator-like atmosphere that created rapid growth in my role. After a few short years, products/bosses/peers came and went, and I was able to position myself for advancement. A solid product marketer is strategic and can influence large bodies of work. I’m fortunate to have been in roles that allowed me to do both, and that’s led to the greatest lessons yet.
What’s a particularly fulfilling project you’ve worked on?
The freshest memory wins. I just launched a new sales enablement tool at Pluralsight, organizing our content library and ensuring all of our incredible sales tools are just a click away fully integrated in Salesforce. Product Marketing has led the project from the start, and we’re owning the tool/relationship/content going forward. It’s a big win for us and the most fulfilling part has been the response from our sales team. In a training I led yesterday, a salesperson said “watch, in the next 3 months sales will use more of the content from marketing than the last 2 years, simply because it’s not buried in a separate tool (like Jive)” #PMMWin
What’s your secret to staying productive?
A deep seeded desire to keep my boss happy! Only partially joking. I know she will read this. I’m incredibly motivated by achieving. I get incredibly bored when I’m not productive. So, selfishly it’s a matter of keeping myself engaged and satisfied in my role. That said, I’m also genuinely connected to the mission of my team/department/company right now and that’s very motivating. We don’t have a day to waste, so staying productive is the only option.
What’s your favorite recent read?
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. Don’t get me wrong, I give a f*ck. I give a couple of them. But it was a great reminder about the dangers of seeking approval from everyone. A compromise spread too thin is a concession, not a compromise. Sometimes we need to see through the matrix and adamantly push forward with what we know is the best course of action, without the baggage of appeasing every single stakeholder.
Why do you think product marketing is an important function?
Effective Product Marketing can be like a rising tide, that lifts all ships. Cliche analogy aside, how often have we heard folks complain about siloed efforts or disconnected departments? Product Marketing should be that connective tissue that ensures alignment and shared information across the divides. A happy and healthy company has less divides. That is evidenced by revenue, efficient business operations, and employee satisfaction. If your company cares about those three things, then yeah I’d say Product Marketing is pretty damn important!
What’s your advice to someone interested in breaking into product marketing?
If you really have an ability to communicate complex thoughts, have natural writing skills, and love flexing your creative muscles, run – don’t walk into the career! You can’t get an MBA in Product Marketing yet, so you’ll need to find the right opportunity to get started. That’ll be the challenge to find. I made some sacrifices to start this second career of mine, but the rewards have all but made up for the temporary setbacks. I’ve also been fortunate to find incredible peers, leaders and mentors that have coached me through it. If you’re looking to break into product marketing, don’t discount the value of a mentor and don’t expect to cut your teeth at the sexiest startup in town. Product Marketing is in my opinion one of the fastest growing needs in tech companies. The water is warm – jump on in!
Want to be featured in our “Coffee with a Product Marketer” series? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.