Sharp-eyed NewsCred customers might have noticed a new name on the Q3 product newsletter. We’re lucky to have a brilliant, possible insomniac Vice President of Product here at NewsCred: Tzi-Kei Wong. She took a break from shipping many (seriously!) new product features for a quick interview about what goes into building and improving a leading Content Marketing Platform.
Tell us a bit about yourself—where were you working before joining NewsCred?
I’ve spent about the last decade in both the marketing tech and product space, primarily building SaaS platforms at high-growth companies. I was with one brand through an IPO [editor’s note: Responsys was one of the biggest success stories in marketing tech]. I was also with BrightEdge, the leading SEO platform, and Percolate. When I ran product management for those companies, we were very focused on scaling their platforms and building things from scratch.
What are the core responsibilities of the head of product?
It depends on the stage of the company. At a company our size, we are typically responsible for identifying and crafting a smart product strategy that will get us to product market fit as quickly as possible. As part of that, we constantly take the pulse of what I call the “3 Cs”: customer, competition, and company. What is the profile of our target customer and the compelling reasons for them to buy? How can we compete today versus tomorrow? What is the company’s differentiation, and is it durable? Ultimately, it’s my job to be obsessed with customer value.
Your team receives customer and internal feedback constantly. How do you prioritize all the feature requests and ideas?
The number one skill a product manager needs is the ability to make smart, bold product decisions. If I make an investment on a feature, it needs to appeal to the majority of our market or customer base. So for one-off requests and customer feedback, which we love receiving, we always ask clarifying questions: how big of a market will this feature satisfy? Is it a tablestake? Will it delight our customers? I consider whether each product investment will drive high usage and stickiness. A lot of times, initial product feedback is what someone wants but not necessarily what they need.
What are some of the soft skills that you think have led to your success in Product?
I think the biggest soft skill for me has been customer empathy. I love being able to empathize with the motivation behind product feedback, and it helps me ask better clarifying questions so that our customers know they’ve been heard.
What do you think are the absolute must-haves in a Content Marketing Platform going into 2019?
NewsCred is already the platform leader, but the market is heading towards where the role of content marketer is more integrated across lines of business. We want to extend content marketers’ storytelling ability across other channels and other parts of the marketing organization. That’s why we’re innovating in core areas like integrated marketing planning, campaign management, campaign briefing, and cross-team collaboration. Content Marketing Platforms also need to be able to support workflows for all types of marketing content, not just articles and infographics.
And for global organizations, we need to provide unified visibility and governance across teams, regions, and time zones. If I’m a marketing executive, I want to know whether my team is working on the right priorities and I want clear sight-lines across teams if I need to adjust any marketing plans. For example, if I need to adjust a product launch date, how quickly can my marketing organization respond to that change? Is everyone on the same page, or do we need to chase down all the information on which teams and marketing activities are impacted downstream?
What’s the secret to building products marketers need?
That’s a really good question. [Editor’s note: Thank you!] The fundamental goal and mission of my team is to meet product market fit as quickly as possible, so we have to ship as quickly as possible and quickly gather as much feedback as possible. We look at product adoption, engagement (e.g., weekly active users or time spent on features), and also stickiness. That third factor — how we know the platform is providing mission-critical value — is hardest to quantify; we use things like NPS and rapid growth of daily active usage.
Once we have all our product investments evaluated against a scorecard with those three pillars, I drill into the details. What percentage of our customers actually adopted a new feature? Do I need to work with our customer service team to build an onboarding and implementation plan? Should we include in-app messaging? We also will reach out to our highly engaged customers for interviews to learn about what’s working or not.
And finally, what makes you most excited about working at NewsCred?
I love my job. Everyone here is in it together. My team is in it to build it, and it’s so satisfying and humbling — the team really makes such a difference.
Jesse Feldman is the editor of NewsCred Insights. Special thanks to Senior Content Strategist Katie Del Angel for contributing questions to this interview.