Hello! I’m Arielle Zappia and I just finished up my product marketing fellowship at RingCentral. I’m here to tell you the three most important things I learned throughout this experience.
1. The value Product Marketing Management (PMM) brings to a SaaS company
As a PMM fellow, I was able to experience and contribute to the value of a PMM team first hand. PMMs are essentially the link between product innovation and the market those innovations are built to serve. The product team is ideating and creating new innovations in the form of products, features, and new software solutions. While the market (customers) is telling us what problems and pain points they are facing today, how can we help in solving these problems, and what they are willing to pay for in the end. PMMs are tasked to bring the product to the market, primarily through messaging and positioning. Positioning is identifying the exact place where customer delight and product vision intersect – determining what your unique selling proposition (USP) is and why that is important to customers in specific segments. Messaging is how you convey your USP to customers externally, whether it’s through digital storytelling (web), sales interactions, customer case studies, campaigns, social media, blogs, or thought leadership. I worked in far more detail with messaging – constructing product/feature value propositions, taglines, use cases, pain points, etc.
Working with messaging has allowed me to take projects from just ideas to fully market-ready products with clear value propositions, user stories, and competitive differentiation outlined. I have been able to dive deep into what each aspect of messaging means, why it’s important, and how to best articulate it to consumers. For example, value propositions are the “why” of a product. Why would a customer buy this product or service? In what way does it benefit them and/or solve one of their pain points? Having a complete understanding of a product’s value props is crucial in ensuring that you are targeting the right market and that the product has a product-market fit. A product may seem like a great idea to you, but if there is not a place for it in the market, the majority of consumers will not be interested.
Pain points are another key aspect in messaging, as these are the factors that a product is trying to solve for customers. For instance, RingCentral’s Push to Talk was created to alleviate three major pain points in frontline workers:
- Frontline workers regularly have to pause in order to answer calls or make announcements on paging devices.
- They often have “device fatigue” due to the number of devices they carry.
- Texting can take far too long in emergency situations.
After solidifying these pain points, RingCentral’s product marketing team created value propositions to directly target these pains (i.e. driving ROI through fewer devices and apps).
Understanding the importance of messaging and positioning has allowed me to understand the value that a SaaS company brings to market. Connecting the product strategy to the market’s needs allows the business to optimize its marketing efforts, and therefore, market the best version of its product possible.
2. AI is revolutionizing SaaS processes
One of my projects was working on AI powered live transcriptions, summaries, and sentiments for RingCentral Phone & Video.
During my fellowship, one of my main projects was working on the ever expanding portfolio of artificial intelligence (AI) offerings with the introduction of new voice AI capabilities, including live transcriptions and call summaries, in RingCentral MVP (Message Video Phone). Powered by RingSense, RingCentral’s proprietary AI platform, these features enable RingCentral’s millions of phone global users worldwide to boost productivity and collaborate more efficiently.
Specifically I helped launch the following features:
- Live transcriptions and closed captions: Automatically generates transcripts of conversations using AI. Ideal for promoting workplace accessibility and inclusivity (for those with English as second language). When on the go in noisy environments, transcripts can be reviewed at any time during the phone conversation and downloaded for future reference.
- Post-call summaries and insights: Provides users with AI-generated summaries, call highlights, and keywords with each recorded call for quick distillation of key insights. Reduce time on low-impact tasks like note-taking and focus on the conversation at hand. Improve knowledge retrieval, compliance and documentation.
- Sentiment Analysis: Monitor and track emotion and sentiment during calls. Detect the emotional tone of your conversations and identify potential misunderstandings, allowing you to proactively clarify and resolve issues.
AI is immersing itself into business practices at lightning speed. A concern that people regularly bring up is that AI may take over a majority of jobs in the near future. There is no question that AI is moving rapidly and making some teams leaner, however, AI’s primary role is to improve productivity and automate processes & tedious tasks. AI is here to help, rather than to destroy 🙂
Seeing how AI incorporates itself into unified communications as a service (UCaaS) and contact center as a service (CCaaS) is fascinating. RingCentral’s RingSense for Sales is a perfect example. It provides conversation intelligence on your phone and video calls that allow sales reps to automate note taking, hear more customer insights, and close more deals. Having a smart “guide by your side” tell you that your tone came off as aggressive in your past call allows you to take action and change your tone in your next call, without having to wait for someone to tell you a long way down the line.
AI is the future & I am so glad that I was able to be a part of RingCentral’s journey with it.
3. The importance of digital storytelling
Digital storytelling is another large aspect of a PMM’s role, along with messaging & positioning. I would describe it as taking messaging into more visually engaging, design-oriented, interactive pathways, such as impactful and engaging webpages, how-to videos, product demos, social media posts, etc.
Although the goal may be the same – conveying the importance of a product to consumers – the approaches between messaging and digital storytelling are different. Messaging is focused on how words assemble to create an overarching message. Whereas, digital marketing is focused more on how those words interact with images, GIFs, videos, and other information (depending on the type of digital you are working with) to convey a message and engage an audience.
I see digital marketing as taking more artistic creativity compared to linguistic creativity. Here, the combination of taglines, visual elements, and even sounds work synchronously to communicate the message you are trying to convey. Whereas messaging is strictly focused on language and wordplay.
I have found digital storytelling to be a great creative outlet. And, seeing how things come together from a storyboard to a final product is awesome! It’s also very satisfying to see how an idea you think of (i.e. creating an image to show how a particular feature works) materializes into a tangible product after sending it off to the design team.
Product marketing collaborates with so many departments and roles within a company that you truly get to experience a broad range of specialties, even if you do not work directly in them.
My final takeaways
I hope you found these insights to be helpful!
I was able to fully immerse myself into RingCentral’s product marketing team while I was there, and I could not feel more fulfilled. I learned and experienced so much more than I expected, and I feel like I have a well-rounded understanding of the various roles in product marketing already. The people here are so amazing. Everyone made me feel welcome and many enhanced my fellowship experience through involving me in their projects, inviting me to meetings, teaching me about their roles, etc.
If there is one place I would recommend for a fellowship, it would be RingCentral.
If you want to learn more about the RingCentral fellowship & Ringtern internship programs, click here: https://www.ringcentral.com/company/careers/internship-program.html
Originally published Aug 11, 2023