Gina Orlando is a product marketer with 10 years of experience in the government technology sector. She has built public sector-focused marketing functions from the ground up at startups like Dataminr, Mark43, and goTenna. She currently works as a Product Marketing Manager for government and supply chain risk management solutions at BlueVoyant.
As a product marketer, did you start your career with this goal in mind?
When I first started out as a marketer, my original role was “business analyst”. Before I even knew what product marketing was, the first startup I ever worked for did not have a marketing team. It was at an early stage, and they didn’t want to put the investment to create a true marketing budget, which is pretty common for early-stage companies.
But I was on a team that was supporting business development which, at the time, meant creating a lot of personalized materials for sales meetings. As the product became more sophisticated, I was given other projects – a one-pager on this new feature, or an email that’s describing how to use it for the current customers. So, my title of “business analyst” made no sense.
It was an interesting journey to help my managers and the leadership at the time to understand that what I was actually doing was product marketing, not business analysis. After I left that company, I think after about three years, I looked specifically for “product marketing” job titles, knowing my entire resume was describing what that role was.
What challenges do you have with the sales team and getting the product to market?
Pace of development and bandwidth can be the biggest challenges. The pace of development is usually not as fast as the sales team would like. The sales team is always looking for something new and interesting to say: here’s this new feature, here’s this new enhancement, here’s this new partnership, etc. And sometimes those things take time.
It can also be challenging to make sure everyone on the team has enough bandwidth to keep effectively pushing a project through all the stages. My focus has to be not only on my own bandwidth, but also the bandwidth of the subject matter experts within our company.
To preserve bandwidth, I try to find resources that can help multiply the team. Sometimes brining on freelancers and agencies can help you work a little bit faster, but that leads to a different challenge: trying to find the right mix of people in house and out of house that can help you scale up as quickly as you need to.
Is marketing at a startup different from marketing at an established company?
I’ve found this sweet spot of an early- to mid-stage startup. At this point a startup has product that’s in a solid spot, and usually a couple of marquee customers that use it and love it. At that point it’s time to scale up and ask, “How can we take this out to a broader market, you know, past our friends and family and the people that we know, well? And how do we attract new people?”
At that time a startup needs to establish their brand and showcase the product. For me, that’s always been the most exciting time to join a startup and the most beneficial to my career. I’m always most excited by the kind of growth that involves figuring out who a company is and introducing it to the larger market, and then coming up with a mix of brand creativity and a little bit of digital magic to kick it off. And that’s always been the most exciting thing for me.
I’m at a company now where in many ways I’m working at a startup within a startup because we’ve just brought a new subsidiary into the fold. They have a really great product and they have less than 10 customers, but they’re all solid. So, I’m in that sweet spot within the startup where it’s a different kind of growth that’s really exciting.better.
Is there anything in your MarTech stack that has become really useful to you?
LinkedIn has been a really great way to get to know people, and not only in the targeted aspect of being able to drill down into the data, but it’s also just been a way to get that “top of funnel” brand content out that we would have traditionally wanted to do through an email.
One new feature on LinkedIn, for example, is the newsletter that can be provided on an ongoing basis, like a subscription. We’ve turned articles into subscription newsletters as another way to get in front of people.