Travis Kaufman joins Aptrinsic as Vice President of Product Growth. Prior to Aptrinsic, Travis led
product leadership roles at Leadspace and Marketo where he shaped the direction of B2B marketing
technology. Travis brings over 15 years experience delivering innovative products to market across
the marketing and sales tech landscapes including AI, social media marketing, display advertising
and CRM sales forecasting.
1. What do you believe are the primary responsibilities for a Product Marketer?
A Product Marketer is responsible for all go-to-market aspects of their product. They are tasked
with defining their product, pricing, promotion and distribution. For SaaS companies, the degree
to which a Product Marketer is held accountable for the success of each of these areas varies
widely based on the size of the company and their go-to-market strategy.
With the traditional sales led go-to-market strategy, the sales leader is responsible for the
revenue numbers associated with product success. With a product led go-to-market, where
your product is delivered through a low-touch limited time free trial or freemium offer, the
product leader is responsible for revenue.
The core of the Product Marketing role, which we see rapidly evolving into Product Growth is
the ability to identify and understand market needs and pain points. This knowledge is essential
to influence what their product needs to do in order to address those needs and ultimately
create a successful business.
2. What one company calls a product manager, another calls a product marketing
manager. In a nutshell, what’s the difference between a Product Manager and a
When Richard Gere walked up to Julia Roberts in the 1990 film Pretty Woman he asked “What’s
your name?”… and she replied “What do you want it to be?” This dialog between two fictional
characters is very similar to the role product people face today. Every business has defined
departments and stakeholders that address very concrete areas.
In the case of SaaS companies there is R&D, the people who write the code and build the
product. There are the business teams; marketing/sales/finance/operations; the people
responsible for acquiring and supporting customers and the health of the business. You’ve also
got customers; the people who have a problem that your product solves.
Each of these stakeholders have a relationship and overlapping boundaries. And as such, each
company may naturally have talent in bridging one or more of these areas without anyone with a
formal product title. For example, your sales team may have a solid understanding of the
customers needs and ability to communicate those needs to the R&D team. Your finance team
may have a good grasp of the costs associated with building and maintaining the new product in
order to properly allocate funds and measure ROI.
However, there is usually a gap in one or more of these overlapping areas and this is where
product comes in. Product often operates as a bridge between these different stakeholders and
fills in gaps the organization may have in balancing the needs of these different, but related
stakeholders. So, like Julia Roberts’ character, the product person is called “whatever the
organization wants it to be.”
Someone with the role of product manager will typically have skills that help bridge the gap
between customers needs and R&D teams. Defining and communicating the product
capabilities in a form the R&D team need to build the product and managing the full software
development lifecycle. Someone with the role of product marketer will have skills to help bridge
gaps between customers needs and the business. Helping customers understand the benefits
of the product or identifying the best vehicle to reach new customers.
I’m a big fan of the work Dan Schmidt has created in the form of The Product Management
Triangle . Dan shares that depending on the gaps a company needs filled will determine if the
product person will have a “product manager” vs. “ product marketer” title.
3. How can Product Marketers directly influence revenue growth, customer retention
This is one of the most exciting times to be a product marketer. Product marketing is inherently
aligned with customer acquisition and retention outcomes. So much so, that we now see the
emergence of “Product growth manager” roles within organizations. The most impactful thing a
product growth manager can do is to select the right market and customer problem for their
product company to solve.
Identifying the market need and core competency of your organization to uniquely address that
market need shows itself in the form of faster revenue growth, reduced customer acquisition
costs and higher customer lifetime value. Unfortunately just declaring the market need and core
competency isn’t enough to grow your business. You need to create inspiring messaging that
resonates with your customer and arm your marketing team so they can increase awareness.
Your sales team needs to be educated on the customer problem and benefits of your solution
over the alternatives. Your operations and support teams need to be able to serve your
customers so their satisfaction with you product and company align with their expectations.
Outside of enabling your customer facing teams on the benefits of your product, you can also
create a direct contribution to growth through the use of product experience platforms such as
Aptrinsic. With visibility into your customers product usage, you can create tailored
walkthroughs and guides within your product to increase adoption and help customers realize
the intrinsic value of your product.
4. What role does a Product Marketer play towards helping an organization become
As mentioned earlier, the core contribution of the Product Marketer is to identify and understand
market needs and pain points. With this understanding in hand, they are one of the greatest
forces to help an organization become market-driven.
One of the best, and unfortunately under utilized tools to help an organization become
market-driven is the creation of an ideal customer profile (ICP) along with analysis of how those
that match the ICP actually use your product.
All too often, product marketing leads will create a well intended and thoughtful presentation
articulating the characteristics of their buyer and user personas. There will be a “mock” photo of
the persona, calling out the details of their role and responsibility, demographics, pain points,
influencers, hopes and dreams; all in effort to help educate the organization on what makes
their customer tick. Targeted messaging is then created to support marketing programs and the
persona presentation is socialized with other customer facing teams.
This is typically where the exercise stops leaving your ICP and market personas being no more
than a presentation that doesn’t come to life in your everyday operations. To really make your
organization more market-driven you need to validate the needs and wants of those personas
over-time based on what capabilities of your product they use (and more telling, what they don’t
use). To do this effectively you need to be able to analyze your product usage data based on
the same characteristics that make up your target personas. Armed with this information you
can create more holistic persona definitions, measure your organizations success with those
personas and identify new personas and adjacent markets that find value in your product.
5. What challenges do Product Marketers face both within their organizations and
externally as they look to help their companies become market-driven?
The road to product success and being market-driven is full of challenges. At the early stages
of a product’s life cycle, there may not be a strong understanding or clarity on who the target
market and buyer should be and as a result it can be challenging to identify which market to be
driven by. You may get traction with SMB customers who have very different feedback than
your Enterprise customers. New stakeholders outside of your target persona also emerge
opening up new opportunities into an adjacent market. At this stage it’s best to take some
educated bets and determine what success looks like in a given market and how long you as an
organization are going to focus there in order to keep your teams aligned on the needs of that
I believe that being market-driven is the only way to succeed in creating products that
customers love. Now this does not mean that all of your product requirements are going to be
verbalized by your customers. On the contrary, many of the most disruptive and successful
products today did not come from a customer saying what they needed, but from the
understanding of the problems they faced and the ability to identify emerging technologies
which change how your customers solve that problem. It’s this balance that product leaders
must tackle when being market-driven is to not simply deliver what their customers are asking
for, but go beyond the ask and truly understand the problem they need addressed in order to
bring innovative and product defining solutions to market.
6. What metrics should a Product Marketer use to measure success?
For those of us in a SaaS industry, the ability for an organization to acquire and win new
customers and keep them long enough to generate a healthy customer lifetime value are
indicators of business success. There can be many things to measure along the customer’s
journey with your product. As a product leader, you need to be measuring to your company’s
north star metric.
This metric differs from business to business. Uber might focus on the number of rides given,
whereas an operational app like SFDC might measure Daily Active Users (DAU)/Monthly Active
Users (MAU) and focus on retention and expansion. A fast-growing startup will usually focus on
New Users (i.e., customer acquisition) and win rate. Your North Star metric is comprised of user
behavior associated with core feature usage that translate to business results.
You’ll want to track your north star metric over time and identify trends that can be identified as
acceptable variations. Most businesses have an element of seasonality and you want to be
able to understand your north star metric well enough to know if a change requires action or
should be expected. When there are changes that cannot be explained by seasonality, you will
want to have the next level of metrics available that influence your north star metric.
Let’s take Uber again as an example. If the number of rides given (north star metric) in a given
time period drops and it’s not due to seasonality, the next level of detail to investigate is the # of
active drivers (supply) and the # of riders requesting a ride (demand). If either of these metrics
drops significantly, it can impact the # of rides given.
The same is true of enterprise software. You need to have your product instrumented so that
you have your north star and supporting metrics at your fingertips so you can quickly make
If you’re interested in hearing more from Travis and Aptrinsic , feel free to join them for a webinar
on 1/31 where he will be sharing best practices on how to increase the adoption of newly
released product capabilities by creating a release experience