Friday, 12 February 2016

10 Tips to Make Job Hunting Less Painful

You've probably heard this before from friends or family:  Job hunting is a full time job.  It's also one of the most frustrating jobs around.  Endless hours, dead-end interviews, hundreds of resumes sent, countless Linkedin contact requests and worst of all: no pay.  
It's easy to see how most people can get discouraged with the job search process. It often feels never-ending, opaque and impersonal.  It's also totally broken (see my last post on Why the Job Hunt process is broken).  
The reality is that all of us have had to face it at some point or another (unless you're born filthy rich and become a professional bum - and even then).  No matter how much education, intelligence or success you've had, if you're not your own boss or don't have your own business at some point you've had to deal with it.
In the 20 years I've been working I've marketed soft drinks, consulting services, nutritional supplements, underground rave parties, mobile games, app stores and marketing analytics.  So I've seen my fair share of job searching both in my own career and as a hiring manager.   Here are some tips I've found invaluable to stay sane, focused and most important of all: Positive
1.  Know yourself.  Sounds obvious?  If it was I wouldn't mention it.  Many people aren't quite sure what they're good at, what they're passionate about and how that translates into a career.  I spoke about this a bit in my last post but this is where it all starts.  If you know what you're good at and how that translates into a career you'll be more self-confident, more excited and passionate during the process and more motivated.  Also when you find what you want your passion and excitement will shine through during the interview process.
How do I know what I'm good at?  Ask friends and family.  Ask past co-workers. Think back to your childhood and consider moments in high school or college when you could spend hours on end doing something and not see the time go by. There are also online tests you can do to find your personality type and how that translates into a career.  One of these, the Jung Typology test can be found here and once you have your results it will even tell you about career paths that suit your personality type.  Knowing yourself will build your self confidence and help you understand what you want and what you don't.  It will also save you time and energy by avoiding going down paths you know aren't right for you.
2.  Focus, focus, focus.  Many people who look for a job adopt a spray and pray strategy.  They come up with a generic resume and hit every single job board and apply for as many things as they can and feel that they've had a great days work.  Guess what?  That doesn't work.  As someone who's hired a lot of people let me just say that it's awesome when I get a resume and cover letter from someone who has really taken the time to read the job description, research my company and has a resume that closely matches what I'm looking for (even if it's not a 100% match).  But all too often the reverse is true.  I end up seeing countless resumes that don't have the right backgrounds, skills or required experience.  To top it off applicants either don't bother telling me why they are a good fit or send generic cover letters (including "Dear Mr. Recruiter" when Linkedin clearly mentions who I am and a link to my profile).  Focus is key.  You may send out less resumes but your pitch is more likely to stick and that's ultimately how you're going to land a job.
3.  Job search is a job - treat it like one.  Searching for a job, especially if you've just been let go, can be brutal.  You might be feeling demoralized, down and without energy.  It's normal that you might need a few days or even a week or 2 to "snap out of it."  Most of us do.  We're human.  Give yourself some time to mourn, decompress, get rid of that anger or whatever.  But once that time is up get back up on the horse and get going.  The key to succeeding at the job search is to quickly develop a plan, set yourself daily and weekly goals and execute on that plan the way you would when you're working on something in a paying job.  That means things like getting up at the same time you used to get up, going through a routine every day, deciding how to allocate each part of your day (for example 9am - 10am for research, 10-11am for follow up emails, calls and meetings) and giving yourself goals.  For example, when I've been job searching I break up my day between emails / follow ups, research, meetings, more follow ups, more research, writing and sports.  I usually break each of these down into 1.5 hour blocks and leave the afternoons for calls and interviews.  The point is: I have a routine and I stick to it.  
4.  Set yourself goals / targets.  Whether it's a certain number of contacts, coffees, meetings each week or something else, you can't measure your performance unless you set a benchmark.  At least this way you'll know how you're doing.  Getting a job is like sales:  you have to identify a lead, qualify it, nurture it, reach out, negotiate, and close the deal.  The same goes for job hunting.  After a few weeks you'll get an idea about how many coffees / meetings generate how many new contacts and of those new contacts how many lead you to real opportunities and so forth.  
5.  Get Organized.  There is great, free software out there you can use online like Trello or Asana which helps you manage and organize projects.  I've found Trello awesome in helping me organize all the contacts I have, who I've talked to, when I have to talk to someone next or follow up with a company I met.  You can use tools like these to keep detailed notes on all your conversations, emails or meetings and even set reminders on which tasks you need to do next and who you need to follow up with.  Those reminders are a great way for you to stay ontop of what matters and it will also give you a small sense of accomplishment when you check things off your list. 
6.  Do sports.  I can't stress this one enough.  Doing even 20-30 minutes a day will make a world of difference.  I do 20 minutes of yoga each morning to start off my day.  It helps me stretch out, focus, wake up and start off on the right foot.  Simply put:  there is no excuse not to do it. Even if you can't afford a gym, new skis, a new bike or whatever there are lots of things you can do to stay in shape. I found a number of YouTube Yoga videos online and if you couple those with some of those elastic bands you can get on for $20 you're set. If you're not into Yoga, try walking.  Leave the car at home and walk to your local convenience store to buy something.  I've found exercise (I also bike 40-50 miles per week) to be critical whether I'm working or not.  It brings oxygen to your brain, helps you think more clearly, makes you feel good and you may even look better (who doesn't like that?).  More importantly, it helps kill the stress that the job search produces.  So find something you don't mind doing and put 20 minutes in your calendar every day as part of your routine.
7.  Keep a "success log".  OK, this one may sound simplistic and maybe even a bit childish but particularly if you're feeling down what I've found helpful is to keep a diary where every morning or evening you you sit down (or whip out the laptop) and write at least 5 things that went well for you that day.  It can be anything.  The point is that you'll always find somethings that went well.  Maybe you had a good interview or a friend made an intro to someone that you should talk to.  Maybe you finished a long job application.  Perhaps you just completed an online course you need to help change careers.  It could even be something as simple as having gone for a nice, long walk in the park during a sunny day (remember the part about doing sports?).  No matter how rough your day was you'll always find things that went well and things to be thankful for.  I've found that stopping for 5-10 minutes and being thankful for what I have helps me maintain perspective.  Things are never as bad as they seem.
8. Job search is a people business so get out there!  No matter how many online job boards you use, how long you spend on Linkedin or how many resumes you send out the research still shows that between 70-80% of jobs aren't even published.  More importantly, an article in NPR several years ago also revealed how companies usually receive about 6 applicants for each job! The solution is:  get out and network.  There's simply no way around it.  I'm not saying don't look at the job boards and don't apply for anything online. You should certainly give it a shot but in the 20 years I've worked I've never had a role come through an online job application.  Every single one of my jobs came through someone I knew (except one).  The key to networking is to grow your network.  Not everyone you speak to will have a job for you but they will know several people who know other people who might.  In my experience there is no such thing as a wasted meeting, coffee, lunch or phone call.  Everyone I speak to knows someone who has helped me.  Think of it as the law of probabilities: the more people you reach out to, the greater the chance you'll find something.  The cool thing as well is I've often found that 1.  Networking gets me out of the house, clears my head, gives me exercise (I walk to many of my meetings) 2. Networking helps me make new friends and 3)  Networking always helps me learn new things.  What you may also find is that, particularly with folks you know, they will know things about you and can also give you valuable advice about things you might be good at or even career options you haven't even considered.  Networking is awesome.  Get out there and meet someone.
9.  Use your downtime.  Sometimes people ask me: "what about getting into an industry I don't have any experience in?  How do I do that?"  Well, if there's one thing you may have when you're job hunting it's downtime.   We all end up with extra time on our hands.  So you can either play video games or do something really useful.  A couple of things I do which have been really helpful:  
a)  Write.  That's exactly what I'm doing right now.  I'm writing.  I'm having a conversation with you.  I'm thinking, writing and sharing advice and at the same time I'm learning about something I'm passionate about:  helping people find jobs they love.  Often times when you write you have to research and when you research you learn new things.  But also the great thing about writing, especially if you enjoy it, is that it helps position yourself as a thought leader.  As someone who knows what they're talking about and is excited about that subject.  For example, let's say you have to follow up with a recruiter you talked to last week about a job.  What do you think will be a more effective?   A simple email asking him / her where they are in the process or a friendly email that says "Hey, I hope you're doing well.  I recently was doing some research on your industry and thought I'd share this post I wrote about the topic.  I hope you find it interesting and would appreciate any feedback you might have."  Notice the difference in style and approach here.  The first approach is what everyone and their mother does.  The second one is a soft sell which shows you really care and are researching and developing expertise about the company's product or industry.  It's also a friendly reminder ("by the way, any news?").  I've written blog posts read by people I didn't know who subsequently reached out to ask me for coffee or lunch.  And guess what?  Even if I don't get an interview out of it, they introduce me to someone else who might ;)
b) Read.  Sounds obvious but if you're really interested in an industry / company that you don't know a lot about your best ticket is to read about it.  Reading will not only develop your knowledge about the industry and company but it will also provide ammunition for your writing.  More importantly it nourishes the brain and keeps you sharp.  One of the  #1 killers of the job search process is that the longer you're out of work the more your skills atrophy.  The brain is a muscle, the more you use it the better it will work.  Reading helps immensely and also helps fight off those moments when little else is happening.
10.  Give back.  One of the things I've found to be very helpful is to spend some of my time giving back to others.  I do that by meeting with entrepreneurs and young people looking to start new businesses.  I really enjoy meeting people, hearing about their ideas, their problems and giving them advice on how to build their businesses.  In some cases these are companies / young entrepreneurs I advise on an ongoing basis.  In others it might just be a few people who are getting started and who I've been introduced to.  We each have different ways of "giving back".  Maybe it's helping your child's school. Maybe it's volunteer work with young kids or the elderly.  It doesn't really matter.  Getting out there and helping others makes you feel alive.  It makes you feel good.  It can also be a source of learning and inspiration.  For me, I find it's good for the soul and I like knowing that I'm helping people.  Giving back will help you feel good about yourself, it will give you confidence (because of the feedback you get from those you're helping) and guess what?  In the grand cosmic wheel of things if you believe in good karma then maybe someone will help you too.
So I hope these tips are useful and feel free to comment and let me know what's worked for you.  It would be great to hear people's stories about how any of these tips have helped you or other tips you've found along the way.  Never let the job process get you down.  Stay focused, stay organized, stay fit and help others and you might just find that this process actually has some enjoyable parts to it that you don't get while you're working.
Mad Mork

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Why the Job Hunt Process is so Broken

As someone so immersed in tech, I have to admit I'm stumped on this one.  How is it humanly possible that given all the cool tech we build - drones, VR / AR, Mobile apps, Bio Tech etc. that our recruiting process is stuck in the stone ages?
When you work in startups you go in and out of jobs.  That's just the name of the game.  So on a personal level I've found myself in between jobs more than once. However, I'm continuously amazed by how arcane our recruitment system is.
Why is our recruiting process so broken?
1.  Recruiters generally have to play it safe. Even when I was at Google, there was a generally accepted norm:  look inside Google first. The reason was simple: existing Googlers have the skills, know the culture, products, pace and processes. They'll get up to speed faster, require less on-boarding and pose less risk.  In startups it's very much the same thing once the company starts to really grow and get traction.  Whereas a bad hire at Google won't kill the company, if you hire the wrong head of sales in your startup and your revenues go "poof" then you could be out of business.  Most firms always look for people with experience (at least on paper).  To make things more complicated, external recruiters generally have to reimburse the company or find a replacement candidate if the candidate they put forward doesn't work out within a set time period.  So both internally and externally most organizations are incentivized to find the "safest" candidate which is not always the "best" candidate.  
2.  There's no money in helping consumers find jobs (yet).  This sounds harsh but the money in the recruitment business is on the enterprise side.  Linkedin, Executive Search Firms, Glassdoor, Monster and Co all make money from who? From companies looking to hire talent.  To date nobody has really done a good enough job to encourage job seekers to spend money on recruitment services. By default if you're looking for a job then you're probably cashflow negative (ie losing money each month) so forking over more money on job search tools / services will be a tough sell for job seekers (unless of course these can guarantee you find a job).  The good news is some people are trying to create marketplaces for both job seekers and companies that serve both.  Hired, which just announced it raised money today, is attempting to do just that.  Though the site only accepts resumes from candidates that they curate (ie - select) they will pay candidates a cash bonus if they find a job through the site.  They also focus more on "active" instead of passive candidates making it easier for firms to find people who are actually looking for a job instead of people who aren't looking to move.  
3.  Experience Trumps "passion".  Steve Jobs once said: "Do what you love and you'll never work another day in your life."  The literature is there to back it up too.  Survey after survey shows that passionate employees are significantly more productive than others with the same skills who aren't passionate.  In addition, passionate employees are often more motivated, have more energy, motivate those around them and lead healthier lives.  They even have a greater chance of having stronger personal relationships as an article in the Huffington Post pointed out last year.  When you're happy at work and feeling that what you do has purpose,  you're more likely to go home happy and treat those you love more kindly than you would otherwise.  But the reality is that measuring passion and assigning a value to it is really hard to do. Companies and recruiters can more easily point to actual skills, work experience and accomplishments to "predict" what a possible candidate will deliver for the company.  Passion and enthusiasm will rarely trump experience though the combination of the two is unbeatable.
 4.  The applicant review process is still manual and impersonal.  Have you ever gotten one of those emails that says: "Thanks for applying for the role of super duper cookie cutter.  Your application is important to us and we'll get back to you as soon as we've reviewed your profile."  6 months later you still have no reply from them.  Sound familiar?   At my last job I must have seen at least 150 different resumes for two roles I was recruiting for.  I answered every single applicant.  Granted I had various templates I'd created based on the applicant type, skills and length of experience so it's not like I customized every reply.  But the reaction even to these simple emails shocked me:  people wrote back.  I even got replies with people telling me how wonderful I was for my detailed and considerate feedback.  I actually had an email exchange with several candidates about the process in general.    One applicant, who initially sent me a slightly offensive, drunken rant by email, hearing I'd been laid off, actually invited me for dinner and drinks and offered me a consulting assignment.  
In today's day and age of tablets, smartphones and messaging apps its easy to forget people are human and deserve the courtesy of a response.  Software from companies like LeverJobviteGild and others are helping companies with better Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and even Linkedin has their own ATS if you use Recruiter or Recruiter Lite but as employers we still have to do a better job of getting back to people and showing people some respect.  
5.  People sometimes don't know what they want.  It's easy to bitch and moan that "company X never got back to me" or "I just don't have the skills for that job" but in 2 decades of hiring and managing teams I've also come across more than one candidate that simply didn't know what he / she wanted.  I recently interviewed a candidate for a role in the company I worked for who admitted to me: "Honestly, I'm not quite sure at this point of my career what I want.  I'm still trying to figure that out."  Respect has to go both ways.  In the same vein that candidates would like companies to get back to them and update them on the status of their applications they should also come prepared and have a really clear idea of what they are looking for, why their skills matter and what they have to offer the company in question.  Candidates should also spend more time understanding what they are good at, what careers match those strengths and connect the dots.  
OK great, so what can we do as applicants?
 One thing we can all do is get a better understanding of ourselves:  our skills, strengths, weaknesses, motivations and passions.  Knowing ourselves better will allow us to be more focused in our job search.  As a recruiting manager I found that often as many as 50% of the applicants I reviewed either didn't have the right skill set I was looking for or didn't have the right experience.  
Part of the challenge is that people simply aren't aware of the tools that can help them figure out what career paths are available for them.  For example,  one of the things that career coaches or college placement offices may have students do to identify a career path is called a Myers Briggs test or, in some cases a Jung Typology Test.  The test involves answering a series of questions about yourself. Once you've finished answering the questions the test will reveal your personality type formula.  Some sites will also provide you with various career paths that are suitable to your personality.  You can take the test here and it will even show you famous people who match your personality type.  I learned a lot about myself doing this. I don't like large organizations, hate bureaucracy, dislike corporate politics, love to write, enjoy public speaking and need to a lot of autonomy in what I do.   
Aside from the Jung Typology Test, Janet Scareborough Civitelli, a career coach, has a great post you can read on that lists the 10 things you can do to identify the things you're good at.  They include the basics such as getting advice from friends, families and career coaches to skill matching websites and more advanced, in-depth testing that is available in major metropolitan areas if you have the time and money to pursue them.  She also has a number of interesting books worth having a look at.  
I've always been an optimist at heart and I truly believe that each one of us has unique gifts, abilities and talents that we can turn into something that not only helps us pay the rent but also taps into our passions.  We can wait for the system to change or for enterprising entrepreneurs to fix it for us (some will for sure) or we can get a grip on what we do well, find our purpose and set about finding a way to monetize our strengths and passions.  
Part of the answer lies within us.  The question is do we have the courage to pursue it.
The next time you're frustrated with the job hunt process have a look at this rejection of rejection letter and always remember: Keep smilin'
Mad Mork

Friday, 5 February 2016

Silicon Valley's Greatest Opportunity? Better Marketing

It's crazy how time flies.  In October of last year I marked my 6 year anniversary in Silicon Valley.  It's been quite a ride and I've been privileged to see and be part of some pretty amazing things:  the booming of the app economy, the explosion in Android adoption,  the growth of mobile gaming, and the launch of Google playjust to name a few.  
Like many, I'm perpetually amazed at the level of energy, innovation, drive and creativity here. I've lived in 11 countries and actively worked in 7 of them and I don't think it's a solely an American thing to claim that there is no place like the Valley.  There just isn't.  The unique mix of energy, technology, capital, innovation and cultures simply doesn't exist anywhere else.  It's what makes this place so unique and dynamic.
But the Valley has its dark sides and its own challenges as a recent article in The Economist points out.  Success and financial gain aside, one that's very rarely talked about but is becoming more widely acknowledged is the lack of focus on marketing.  I'm constantly surprised by how little focus there is on marketing at many companies - both big and small.  Many marketers will agree: For all the innovation in the Valley, marketing if often under utilized, misunderstood or de-prioritized as part of the business.  
To appreciate the answer you have to first understand what the role of traditional marketing is.  Philip Kotler, a professor at Northwestern considered by many as one of the gurus of marketing defines it as follows:
"Marketing is the science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit. Marketing identifies unfulfilled needs and desires. It defines, measures and quantifies the size of the identifiedmarket and the profit potential."
Sadly, marketing is often misunderstood or under appreciated in the Valley.  Ask many founders and even VC's and they will tell you marketing is about PR, advertising or "growth hacking."   
As a marketer with 20 years experience I've developed a thick skin and don't take this personally.  I remember being at Google several years ago in a staff meeting when a product manager proclaimed "marketing could go home and we really wouldn't feel the difference on the revenue side."  When you're Google and your app is pre-installed on every Android handset that comes to market it's easy to feel that way but sadly that didn't help the usage of that particular app. As a matter of fact, never has Google's marketing spend nor the size of its marketing team been larger than it is today.  
But let's get back to our earlier definition of marketing for a minute.  Another famous marketer, E. Jerome McCarthey developed what's widely known today as the 4-P's of classical marketing.  For the uninitiated these are Product, Place, Price and Promotion.  
This is also where things get really tricky in the Valley.  Product in technology is usually owned by product management / engineering team (and in early-staged companies by the CEO / founders).  Place, more commonly known as distribution, is usually owned by business development and sales. Price is owned by sales.  Which leaves marketers guessed it "Promotion."  More commonly known as advertising or growth hacking here (cough cough).
Now I'm not saying marketing should own all of the above.    The complexities and skill sets needed are too great and you're not going to change the culture in which tech companies operate.  However, not having marketing deeply involved in all these aspects of the business can result in products not fit for market, brand erosion, and reduced profitability.  
Let's look at each of these in turn.
Product.  All too often I've seen startups fail because founders build cool tech in search of a market.  This happens because you have incredibly smart technical teams that love to build cool things but aren't close enough to consumers or customers to understand what problem they're actually solving or whether those people actually even need this technology (Google Glass anyone?).  The other day I met with a serial entrepreneur who showed me his "Instagram for VR."  I looked at it and was like "Cool.  Eventually, there will be a market for that but not now.  There simply isn't enough of an installed base and capturing and sharing content hasn't been established in VR.  You're at least 3 years too early."  
Another problem you get when marketing isn't involved in product is "feature creep".  I often see great products crammed with tons of cool features.  But the truth is that what makes products like Whatsapp, Instagram or Snapchat great isn't all the cool features. It's that they actually solve a real problem and do it simply.  Argentineans have a saying which is "A preuba de boludos."  Translated into gringospeak as "idiot proof."  Too often products (whether B2B or B2C) are too complicated, lack clear tutorials or onboarding and/or don't directly address a particular need.  The result:  cool tech with no clear market and possibly wasted VC dollars.  Building a successful product is about thinking about the long term.  Improving and adding features as consumer needs evolve over time. However, at the onset you have to solve 1 problem and do it freakin well!  

How Marketing can help Product
The key to nailing product-market fit and avoiding feature creep is having product teams and marketing work together from product concept through launch.  Don't build a product, throw it over the wall and expect marketing to "acquire users."  What's worked for me is what I simply call D2; the "dynamic duo".  This duo is a PM (product manager) and PMM (product marketing manager) who develop the product together from the onset.  While the PM develops PRD's (product requirement docs) and works with engineering to build, test and iterate on the product, the PMM's role is to look at the market, consumers and competition and ensure that 1.) We're solving a real pressing need 2).  We can differentiate against what's out there currently and 3). We can make money doing that.  Good PMM's are both technical enough to understand how products are built but also business savvy enough to understand the economics of the business and where there is an opening to position the product uniquely to have a competitive advantage.  This structure worked for me both in games (studio heads + PMM's) and even at Google (PM's +PMM's). Once the product is ready, PMM's will also work to develop all the necessary assets, brand materials and tools to bring the product to market.  In larger organizations they will then hand this off to consumer marketing teams that handle acquisition and retention while in smaller orgs they may even handle this themselves.  Often the PMM will also run market research and work with the PM to do client interviews, qualitative research and focus groups to more deeply understand consumer needs and how the product can meet these needs.  It's usually a win-win scenario where PM's and PMM's both own the product and the P&L and have clear responsibilities to ensure everybody wins.  Likewise, if things fail they both take the rap ;)
Place.  More commonly known as distribution.  Distribution can make or break a product.  Regardless of whether it's hardware or software.  You can have the best product in the world but if you're competitor has a slightly weaker product but is more widely available you're probably going to lose.  When I worked at Pepsi in the 90's (yes, totally dating myself) one of the big reasons why Coke kicked our ass wasn't advertising (Actually Pepsi's advertising is better than Coke's - I'm biased like that) but because they have way better distribution.  The joke in the industry is that you can find Coke more easily around the world than drinkable water.  Sadly, that's also statistically true.  
The same is true in tech.  You have to be where your customers are and even where they aren't.  The more consumers see you the more brand "recall" you have (ie. the first brand they think about when they are considering a purchase). Twitter and Facebook aren't massive just because of their product and virality. They are successful because you "see" them everywhere.  They are distributed by 100,000's of 3rd party brands on their websites, apps and in the press.  In effect, their ubiquity is a reflection of their distribution.  It's the power of being everywhere.   Coke and Pepsi have enjoyed a duopoly in the soft drink market since the 1890's mostly due to distribution not just advertising.  
How Marketing helps distribution
The key to unlocking distribution is to identify all your possible distribution channels: ie, where are users / clients going to find my product and figure out how to market to each based on their own, unique characteristics.  Once you establish the different channels or partners you have then marketing usually works with your BD teams to develop channel marketing plans.  That's marketing-speak for marketing programs specifically tailored to the needs of that channel.  Here's an example.  When I ran Google Play marketing, one of our programs was called "Comes with Google Play."  It was a program targeting handset vendors and carriers where we provided them with programs, assets and tools to communicate to users that Android devices came with Google play content.  The goal was to ensure that consumers considering Android wouldn't buy an iPhone because Android lacked content.  So we developed the program to provide those channel partners with assets and programs to help carry that message to prospective users.  We even had a partner marketing team who helped push the program to partners and provide them with the framework for brand approvals to communicate this to end users.  
One of the best known programs of that sort was Intel's famous Intel Inside campaign (developed in 1995).  Not only did it help users understand what a processor was and why it mattered but, more importantly it told users why they should only consider PC's running with Intel processors.
Price - show me da money!
Usually the domain of sales or senior management effective pricing can dramatically increase profitability, extend product life cycles and destroy competition.  
Getting pricing wrong can also have dramatic consequences on your sales.  In 2011 Blackberry introduced their first tablet: The Playbook.  Aside from having a terrible name which had nothing to do with the product (they had virtually no games or entertainment content and were targeting business owners) they priced the device initially at $499 to $699 which was the same price as the market leader: the iPad.  The result was a dismal flop.  It should have been intuitive.  After all why would I buy an inferior product, with less content at the same price from a company with little expertise in tablets?  Blackberry's fall from grace had many contributing factors but a large one was marketing or the lack thereof.  
The other two things to consider when thinking about pricing are your business model and your product life cycle.
One of the biggest challenges when I started working in mobile gaming back in 2005 was that we were effectively asking consumers to fork over 4-5$ to experience something they had never experienced before.  Consumers, especially when considering new products and services, often are hesitant to shell out money for something they've never experienced.  At glu mobile we solved that by providing Try-b4-u-buy versions of our java games.  Years later, this eventually morphed into free-2-play games which is now the standard and has helped turbo charge the entire industry.  For years what held the mobile industry gaming back wasn't just shitty distribution (yes that's you Verizon, T-mobile and Vodafone) but bad pricing.  Once games became free to play, a big reason not to download them suddenly melted away and the market exploded.  Today free to play games account for the vast majority of revenue on both the App Store and Google Play.
Another way to juice up adoption and sales and maximize profits is life cycle optimization.  This is commonly done in many traditional industries from consumer electronics to fashion and cars.  It can and should be used in software as well.  The simple notion is that as a product ages and a replacement approaches you should gradually decrease price to extract additional value.  In 2007-2008 we had amazing success at Glu in Europe by doing this.  Once mobile games had been on the market for six months, we would reduce the price and 1-2 months before a sequel we would reduce the price yet again.  In this way we were was able to capture users who wouldn't pay full price while also seeding awareness for the next title.  The console gaming industry has also seen some success doing this.  
Marketing and pricing
Let's go back to our dynamic duo - D2.  Ideally, both the PM and PMM who own your product should have a pricing strategy not just for launch but for the entire duration of the lifecycle of the product before you launch it.   This pricing strategy should reflect the competitive landscape, the introduction of new features (and whether your going to charge for them) and the planned obsolesce of a product to pave way for a new one.  In the Valley not only do teams spend too little time on pricing (often finishing a product without even figuring out whether to charge for it or not) but they often will either underprice a product (our competitor charges X so we should charge X) or fail to identify features that should justify higher pricing.  Pricing is important not only for profitability but also as an indicator of perceived brand value / strength.  
Let's say your positioning your firm as the "market leader" in X space (who doesn't?).  What does it say if your pricing is the same as everyone else's?  It says you don't have enough confidence to charge more for it.  If you don't have enough confidence to charge more for it than is it really better than what's out there?  It might be but that's what your customers are going to be left asking.
Marketing teams need to be assessing how sales and volumes change over time as a function of pricing.  They should be looking at one-off sales promotions targeting specific times of the year and they should be planning price reductions when products are being phased out and pricing increases when products ad valuable features.  Lastly, if you're selling physical products your marketing teams should be working with sales to identify opportunities to price discriminate according to different channels.  Ever notice how a can of Coke (or Pepsi) costs more in a restaurant than in a gas station?  There's a reason for that.
Last but not least Promotion (aka Advertising, Growth Hacking, UA)
Congratulations.  If you've actually read this far and didn't realize what other things marketing can help you with you may have actually learned something ;)
Yes, it's true.  Advertising does remain a core function of the marketing team. But here's the catch: Advertising isn't as effective as it used to be - particularly among millennials.  Why?  There's simply too much noise and too many fragmented channels to market through.  Too many ads, too little time coupled with consumers and clients who are sometimes a bit lazy and usually irrational (if you don't buy this read Dan Ariely's book "Predictably Irrational").  Consumers are filtering out all the noise and are basing purchasing decisions based on other things (friends, the latest fads, what they've used before, the first thing that comes to mind etc.).   Even Google admitted last year that possibly up to 50% of Adwords clicks are accidental.    On the B2B side, many customers are saying that they are actually more into buying products and services from companies who they trust and who "help" them with their business.  The translation in B2B is a greater focus on content marketing and developing materials that actually teach customers something that helps their business as opposed to trying to sell them something.  Content marketing is on the rise and an increasing number of marketers are finding that this is the friendliest path of least resistance to building relationships that eventually translate into greater sales and longer retention.  A great article in Adweek captures why content marketing is on the rise and some of the trends we're seeing.  
The key to understand advertising is simple:  advertising is a process and a journey.  I've often used a framework to help explain this journey: ALTR. Awareness, Likability, Trial, Repeat.  
Before a consumer is going to buy your product they have to have heard of it. Once they've heard of it they need to "like it" or accept it as part of their consideration set among other products they might buy.  Third, they have to try it.  They may buy it or try it but that doesn't mean they will stick to it.  The rule of thumb among marketers is that a customer you already have is always worth significantly more than a new one you have to acquire.  That's why many VC's are placing so much emphasis on retention.  Acquiring a user on Facebook at $5-7 is one thing but loosing 92% of them after 30 days is another.  
What your marketing team should be doing in regards to advertising
Good marketers will develop advertising strategies that capitalize on each stage of the consumer journey as outlined above.  Successful marketing strategies will have different messaging, different creative applications and different advertising channels depending on the goals at each phase.  Each step of the process should be measured and evaluated based on its own metrics.  For example, awareness should be measured in terms of aided versus unaided brand awareness, visits to your website, shares, posts etc.  Trial can be measured in terms of the number of consumers / clients that tried your product and the duration during which they used it while retention is a function of how long a consumer continues to pay for and use your product.  
Different advertising strategies need to employed depending where in the consumer journey you're targeting users.  Billboards or display ads may be good for awareness but not for trial.  Re-targeting is effective for consumers already considering your product but not for those already using it.  Blog posts, white papers and webinars are only effective if the content is tailored to the right audience at the right point in their customer journey.  If you're writing posts on your product features and expecting leads than you're simply wasting keystrokes.  
The good news in all this?  There's still a ton to do to improve tech marketing in the Valley.  As a marketer, I'm excited and optimistic about marketing's prospects.  The Valley is in many ways building the future of consumer and enterprise products across many different industries.  Better marketing will result in better products, targeting the right audiences, with the right message, at the right price available wherever those consumers expect the product to be available. It's a good time to be a marketer in the Valley (if you have a thick skin) and never before has marketing been more important both for the top of the funnel as well as for the bottom.  Marketers should embrace this opportunity while CEO's and VC's should encourage both their marketing and product teams to work more closely together before they actually launch their products.  Firms, clients and investors will be much better of for it.  
Mad Mork