I enjoy reading books written by people I know. I can always picture the person narrating the book, or hear their voice saying the words, I can periodically see their personality showing through the words on the page, and books bring out so much more detail than I’d ever get from a conversation. Loved: How to Rethink Marketing for Tech Products, by Martina Lauchengco, is one of those books. Martina is an operating partner at Costanoa Venture Capital, an investor in both Return Path and Bolster, and I’d known Martina for several years before she joined Costanoa through Greg Sands. She’s the best product marketer on the planet. She’s the also one of the nicest people around.
Product Marketing is a tricky discipline. A brand marketer on my leadership team years ago referred to it somewhat derisively as a “tweener” function, one of those things that’s not quite marketing and not quite product. We didn’t get the function right for many years at Return Path because we treated it that way, thinking “well, it’s neither fish nor fowl, so we’re not quite sure what to do with it.” Then we hired Scott Roth, who has gone on to have a storied career as a multi-time CEO. Scott’s background was in product marketing. He said to me in his interview process, “Product Marketing isn’t a tweener function with no home. It’s a glue function. It holds product and marketing together.” It’s amazing how that simple change in framing, combined with great leadership, led us to completely rethink the function and make it one of the most important functions in the company.
Martina brings that to live with Loved. Simply put, Loved is a handbook or a field guide to running the Product Marketing function. I can imagine it being a section of Startup CXO in that way — it’s incredibly practical, hands-on, how-to, and rich with examples from Martina’s amazing career at Microsoft, Netscape, Silicon Valley Product Group, and Costanoa. And she believes in Agile Marketing, which is always a plus in my book (and I find rare in marketers).
Martina has lots of great frameworks and stories in the book – key responsibilities of product marketing, key metrics, the release scale, the connection to Geoffrey Moore’s TALC, strategies for messaging, pricing and packaging, and more. I won’t spoil more than one here, but I will paraphrase one that I found particularly impactful, a bit of a checklist on the essence of great product marketing:
- Share data around shifting trends in buyer behavior
- Connect your product’s purpose with broader trends
- Rebrand to make your product seem bigger than it is (and save room for expansion down the road)
- Make it free, especially if you’re defining a new category
- Share the “why” and advance access with influencers
If the measure of a book’s impact is how many pages you dog ear or highlight, this says it all about Loved.