It’s always a challenge to find the right person to do your product marketing. You need to find someone with the right mix of talent and personality, who also has a thorough understanding of your product.
I actually transitioned into a product marketing role, having previously worked as a product manager. I think it’s definitely something to consider when you’re hiring.
Often product managers have all the ingredients needed for product marketing. I certainly had the raw skills, and I was lucky that someone took a chance on me.
I’ve seen many product managers who were extremely strong in front of the client, and who had a natural talent for articulating the product’s key features according to the client’s needs. They understood the product, and they knew how to present it.
If you’re looking, I recommend extending the search to include talented product managers.
The switch definitely worked out for me.
Checkmarx today is a huge company, and the leader in its field.
When I started, one of my responsibilities was to develop the Security Research Lab, a resource hub for content that was about the cybersecurity field, but which often had nothing to do with our product.
Our strategy was to recruit a team of security experts to identify bugs at specific companies. It helped us understand what the product should be focusing on, but it also made a huge difference to our marketing.
We had a big win with Tinder, and later with Amazon. We identified serious breaches at both companies and published our findings.
Because both of those brands are huge, our research gained a lot of attention and put Checkmarx on the map as a serious voice in cybersecurity.
The benefits of this research definitely outweighed the cost. We enhanced our reputation, gained valuable information for our own product, and received significant media attention without engaging a PR agency to put our name out there.
Once we knew we had a winning strategy, we started to ride the brands that were already trending, finding bugs in their software and reporting them.
We didn’t necessarily expect it to be a lead generation channel, but it was a huge boost for our marketing and sales efforts.
At Checkmarx, we were lucky that we had the means to hire a research team to produce the security reports and get our name out.
It’s not always so easy, though. At Cognigo, I was almost entirely alone in the marketing team, and didn’t have the resources to bring in a team of experts to write high-quality content related to our industry.
My solution was to contact analysts at companies like Gartner, who often provided services for many of the large corporations that we were trying to sell to.
I would build relationships with these analysts, and explain the product we were developing. This helped spread the word about Cognigo and provided us with a way into our target companies.
I think many startups don’t think about this angle. You can often cut through all the noise and go straight to the trusted voice for the people you’re trying to sell to.
It doesn’t even need to cost money. The initial conversations are free, and the relationship can be mutually beneficial. At the end of the day, you’re an expert in the field they’re researching, and so you’re a lead for them.
If you have a good relationship with the analyst, you can promote your product for free. That way, when their client at the large corporation calls them for a solution to a problem your product can address, the analyst will recommend you.
Checkmarx has many open-source competitors who claim to offer the same services for free. That means that a potential customer looking for a solution will likely search for a comparison between us and one of the free options.
We wanted to control the information, and ensure that people arrived at our solution. It turned out to be mostly straightforward since many of the other vendors only supported one language, and weren’t such a threat to what we were offering.
We decided to be the resource for people comparing the different products. We wrote a blog post about all the different open-source solutions, and how they compared to Checkmarx. There was some internal resistance to us potentially promoting other brands, but we wanted to be a trusted voice in our space.
We knew that many companies would start with open-source solutions, but would quickly be looking for a more versatile option when they grew. We wanted to be in pole position to win their business.
Our blog comparing the different products gained over 20,000 views and was a major reference point for anybody looking for open-source solutions.
Our research team also engaged with the open-source community and wrote analyses on the different languages, highlighting potential bugs and pitfalls from a security perspective.
We simplified much of the resources that already existed, too. We wrote a more accessible manual for the language Go, that was gated and branded, so that anybody who wanted to download it would need to provide their information. It was a great lead generation channel, as well a way to build our brand.
I think the big lesson is that if you’re in an industry with many tools and a lot of confusion, a good way to stand out is to create order.
If you can bring everything together, and make it all more accessible, people will come to you just to relieve their confusion.
I’m an impulsive person by nature.
At Checkmarx, I had a very intensive marketing experience, and one of my responsibilities was writing regular content.
The first blog I wrote was about a cybersecurity conspiracy that I’d formulated in my head. It was a story about a crisis involving the New York Stock Exchange and a number of other organizations.
I wrote about how all of these different entities were connected through a cyber attack that was happening at the same time, but nobody was willing to admit it.
The story was well-researched and thought out, but apparently one of the companies I was writing about was a customer of Checkmarx.
The company confronted me on Twitter, asking for an explanation. It wasn’t an easy experience to go through but I definitely learned my lesson.
There is a positive and negative side to everything. Being impulsive can definitely lead to success, but it can also carry consequences.
Amit Ashbel is the Senior Marketing and Strategy Manager for NetApp. He previously held product management and product marketing roles at companies such as Checkmarx and M86 Security.
Techie Talkie, the tech marketing podcast is a casual meeting place where the best tech marketers share their most impactful trade secrets and marketing hacks . Its objective is to inspire creativity within the tech marketing space and help marketers rise above the noise. It is hosted by Asaph Shulman, a serial marketer and CMO of Firebolt and our very own Carmel Yoeli.