Successful product marketing growth strategies are customer-driven, balanced, and focused on execution, according to Pete Lavache, who recently joined ExtraHop as VP of Product & Technical Marketing. The ExtraHop editorial team spent some time with Pete in his first few days to get a better sense of his background and his approach to product marketing.
Tell us about your background and how you think about the role of product marketing?
"I like to tell folks I started out in video conferencing before companies like Apple, Cisco, Microsoft and Zoom made it cool—and way before the Covid pandemic made it a mission-critical tool for business. Early on in my career, I worked for a company called PictureTel. They were a pioneer in the video conferencing space and had the best products in the market. Unfortunately, that's where I learned, it's not only the best product that wins.
I spent my formative professional years at EMC. That's where I gained the utmost respect for the power of focus and execution, it's where the difference between activity and progress was clear every step of the way, and it's where I met and first worked with some of the most talented people I know. It's also where I started using a quote, that funnily enough, I picked up helping my son do a research project on Thomas Edison: 'Vision without execution is hallucination.' For me that quote serves as a reminder that great ideas come from everywhere, and that our job as product marketers is to do the hard work everyday on the execution steps required to maximize the value of those ideas."
So is it fair to say ExtraHop is in a new space for you?
"Software, SaaS, Cloud… No. Like many of us who've been in the technology industry for over 25 years, there was plenty of big iron and microcode in my early years. That said, somewhere around 2015, I was lucky enough to make the move into cloud, first as a part of EMC's skunk-works cloud division called Rubicon, later as a part of Virtustream, Aspect, and Alvaria where cloud and SaaS were a primary focus. Cybersecurity… Yes. I'm new to the vendor side of the equation, but like anyone who's had responsibility for a software portfolio that stratifies on-premises, cloud, and hybrid attack surfaces, cybersecurity had to be part of the product. In that sense I have been working around cybersecurity for some time now."
What would you say are the keys to success in product marketing?
"I'd say one of the universal keys to successful product marketing is dividing time between partners on the product teams, peers in marketing, constituents in sales presales, channel partners, and most importantly with customers. Anytime I've started a new job, the thing I most look forward to is getting out and hearing directly from customers. As marketers, knowing where users realize value in our software and finding effective ways to share that information is one of the most powerful ways we can help accelerate growth. It's also a critically important input for our product management partners, as it helps inform our strategy and strengthen our differentiation.''
If you had a dollar to invest in your product or your marketing where would you put it?
"I really respect how ExtraHop has historically balanced investments between marketing and product. But to answer your question (and it may sound strange coming from someone in marketing) more often than not, I would vote for investing in the product. That's the innovation engine that fuels our differentiation and makes the marketing we do so effective. The fact is, we are in a space that is so dominated by marketing that it's often hard to tell the signal from the noise. I think that's where ExtraHop's strategy stands out: Our mission isn't to create a brand to market. Our mission is to create value for customers through differentiated products that help optimize and safeguard their most important assets.
Now that I've outed myself as a product-leaning marketer, I also understand the important role that marketing plays in communicating the value we deliver to the market, and in engaging with both prospects and customers. In that regard, the ExtraHop marketing team punches above its weight, and I'm looking forward to working with them.
Any final thoughts?
"I am excited to have joined ExtraHop. It's a great company, with great products, on a great mission. I really like the ExtraHop team, their emphasis on humor, on respect for people, and on delivering on what we say we are going to deliver on. It's clear to me that we are not only here to work hard, but we are also here to work together and do what's right for our customers."