Originally published 6/28/2018
We met Liz practically by chance. While on a trip to New York, we popped by the investment company Betterment to see Frank and Alix and the excellent Coda doc they made for their Product Team. We chatted and troubleshooted, and then we had lunch with a few of their teammates, including a Senior Product Marketing Manager who had also caught the Coda bug. She asked if she could show us before we left.
That’s how we met Liz Derby.
Liz sits between Marketing and Product, keeping everyone in sync and coordinating all the marketing efforts for product launches. With 10–15 such launches a year, and stakeholders by the dozen, she sends around a lot of copy decks, slides, sheets, and Asana checklists.
Liz explained to us that her original solution was Chrome bookmarks. Each product launch got its own bookmark folder, with 20–30 links to docs, sheets, and apps for each one. But it was near impossible to keep them all up to date. Often teammates would update obsolete docs, which meant Liz had to cross-reference multiple assets to get the latest status.
The ‘source of truth’ was everywhere and nowhere all at once — well, it was actually all in Liz’s head, which meant she was the conduit for information relating to the marketing launch. “Can you send me that copy deck?” “Where do I find that press release?” “Will there be a blog post?” Slack Liz.
Here’s a secret, though. Even though bringing a product to market feels uniquely painful each time, it’s actually very predictable. There’s only so much you can say and only so many places to say it. Liz knew she could eliminate some of the chaos by doubling down on consistency. How? With a template.
The marketing machine.
The Product Marketing Template outlines everything you need to launch. You’ve got the general plan, the messaging for PR, the final feature copy, approvals tables for each channel and asset, and a place for Product to flag at-risk features.
But the crown jewel of Liz’s template is the Tiers. Depending on the scope and audience, every launch is assigned a Tier, which then determines the amount of resourcing and detail allocated to it. Liz usually makes a slide to show this framework to the exec team — could she do it in Coda instead? By using the card view and image columns, Liz recreated the exact slide, except it was dynamic and could change depending on the audience selected.
In essence, Liz’s template is a metaphor for product marketing itself: the sleek user-oriented finish of a launch belied by unapologetic technical complexity—a tidy visual, powered by giant rectangle and concatenate formulas. It’s not simply a slide deck with a perfectly rendered finished asset, it’s a programmatic doc that responds to inputs and updates automatically.
Oh and when you see our upcoming calendar view (yeah we said it!), you have Liz to thank for that.
ABOUT THE MAKER
Right and left brain in rare balance, Liz works at the intersection of Marketing and Product. As a maker, she embraces complexity but only in the name of simplicity for the end user. Fun fact: her Betterment Marketing Template contains the most impressive formulas we’ve seen created by a non-Coda employee.