How to Say 'No' Without Getting Fired (part 1)

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 Product marketing managers are inundated with requests for all manner of marketing collateral, sales tools, and sales support. So many that the list of requests grows faster than the ability to complete them in a timely and quality fashion. When product marketing managers decide to push back and say ‘No’, it’s met with displeasure, disdain, or disgust. Usually the person with the most power or most senior job title decides the priority, and the product marketing manager is powerless to defend her position. Jeff Bezos said it so eloquently: "The great thing about fact-based decisions is that they overrule the hierarchy. The most junior person in the company can win an argument with the most senior person with regard to a fact-based decision." More power isn’t what’s needed, it’s facts.

Unclear Goals Result in Unclear Priorities

Product marketing managers need to be clear about how they, as individual contributors, support the goals of the business. In particular, the goals that matter most to the CEO. Unfortunately, the goals of the CEO (lofty or not), aren’t always translated to product marketing managers in a way that is meaningful. Knowing the goals that matter most to the CEO is the first step in saying ‘no’ without getting fired. When you understand which goals matter the most you’ll find yourself in a safer place. Beware that there could be different agendas at play between you and the CEO which can result in different interpretations of the goals. Your job is to clarify the goals and use it as a center of gravity to help you make better decisions. According the to 2010 Pragmatic Institute Product Management and Marketing Survey, product marketing managers support 2 product managers and each product manager supports 3 products. This implies that product marketing managers support 6 products. Without a clear understanding of the most critical goals the CEO values, you are left to travel without a compass to guide you.

Time for a Dose of Reality

You can't market each product equally and expect them all to deliver top results. The product managers you support will be pressuring you to provide more marketing for their products. If the roles were reversed you would do it too. Your mission isn't to provide unlimited marketing support to every product manager, it's to help achieve the goals of the business. Which products support the CEO’s goals the best? How do you know? Who will you need to talk with to know for sure? Part 1 | Part 2Part 3
David Daniels

David Daniels


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