If you’re ready to leverage your influence at work and make a serious impact, you’ll love this conversation with Mary Sheehan, who held a long-time Product Marketing role at Google before becoming a Marketing Lead at Adobe.
Mary shared so many gems of wisdom about growing your leadership muscle on a team, how she built up her product marketing expertise and why she finds it valuable to oscillate between larger companies and startups.
You’ll also hear about her podcast, Women In Product Marketing, and how it’s served as a passion project to give back and be a mentor to others in the industry. Listen to Episode 43 of The Career Memos Podcast available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher.
Inside a product marketing career and what it all means
Mary launched her professional career working at Google. Fresh out of college, it was an incredible learning experience that paved the way for an internal move into Product Marketing. In 2010, product marketing was still a bit of a mystery. There weren’t a lot of resources or podcasts that existed for this career path, so Mary dove right in, managing product launches, developing positioning and messaging, and go-to-market strategies.
If you’re thinking, “what is product marketing?” Mary described it best, as the “conductors” who are involved every step of the way, from customer research, product development, and post-adoption activities. It’s truly an end-to-end role where you’re overseeing everything. In your day to day, you’ll find yourself asking questions like:
What should the customer journey look like?
How should we be talking about this on the website?
What are the channels we should use to get this information out?
Product marketing also involves tremendous cross-functional collaboration and organization. You’re in regular communication with sales, engineering, and leadership. And if you’re really good at what you do, you can leverage your influence to make a serious impact.
Leadership isn’t about a promotion – it’s so much more
Are you interested in leadership?
Focus on building your toolkit to increase your value. Think about new industries you can work in to broaden your knowledge, or different types of roles within your industry. For example, marketing has so many wildly different dimensions. Are you in a traditional marketing role now, but you’re curious about product marketing or social media marketing? Are there new skills you want to learn, or books that could widen your skillset?
Stand out by being visible in your company. Maybe that means creating a visually appealing presentation sharing your ideas for the next 6 months, or consider building a new framework or process from scratch that makes the company run better.
If you’re a new leader, the first year will be the hardest, but what an amazing opportunity! When Mary acquired her first leadership position, she took her friend and fellow manager Stephanie out for drinks. That dinner led to book recommendations and a trusted confidante – someone she could ask the tough questions to.
So find that posse of peer mentors that you feel comfortable talking to, that you can lean on as you grow.
Open yourself up to new opportunities, even though we’re in a pandemic
Mary recounted a story from her past where she was at an Enrique Iglesias concert and when she had her moment to meet him, she froze, like a deer in headlights.
Sometimes you’re given an opportunity like that, and you have to make the most of it. This applies to our career journey, too.
If you’re struggling with what to do next, don’t be afraid to try something new until you know what your next move is.
With the pandemic continuing to interfere with in-person events, most people are receptive to having a virtual coffee chat and connecting. Meet new people, network, and grow.
“If you are really trying to get to the next level and you’re trying to grow your career in that way, be visible. I cannot say enough how much visibility matters within your organization, within those above you, as well as the broader company.”