Three reflections on Product Marketing after year one with Warp

This week I celebrated my one year “Warp-iversary” and drove a milestone marketing launch, announcing Warp for Linux.

At this one year mark, it feels like a good moment to zoom out and share some learnings.

Here’s what’s top of mind:

1) Product Marketing is easy when you’re marketing something people love

This week at Warp we launched Warp for Linux. It’s only been a couple of days, but early numbers indicate resounding success.

Without giving away company secrets, I’ll say that some of our key metrics look less like “trending up and to the right” and more like “driving a high-speed futuristic robot car straight up a cliff.”

DALL-E image of car driving up a wall DALL-E tried.

Personally, I am thrilled with how the launch came together. It was a huge effort with 15+ people across growth, creative, product, and engineering pulling in a single direction. Our new Head of Growth jumped in feet first and pushed our marketing site work over the finish line. As a team, we up-leveled the quality of our materials and created a fun moment in time.

But, ultimately, the success of this launch wasn’t because we did our marketing jobs exceptionally well. It was because there was an enormous amount of pent up demand for the product.

Warp is a fast, modern terminal with a great user experience. Until now, it was only available on MacOS. Developers around the world had been asking, “Linux when?” since the earliest beta release.

For all the typos and hiccups, haters and skeptics, at the end of the launch day, my inbox was filling up with developers saying things like,

“This made my day.”

“I just installed it and I feel like the happiest person on the planet.”

“Thank you and your team for building this.”

If you’re a marketer who wants to see what ridiculous growth rates look like up close, go join an early-stage company that’s building something people love. The right product makes the hard work a lot more fun.

2) Developer Marketing is hard when you’re not coding every day

When I made the decision to join Warp, part of the allure was the intimidation factor of the terminal itself.

Early in my career when I was taking JavaScript courses at bootcamps after work and going to Ruby on Rails meetups on the weekends, getting my dev environment setup was the scariest part. I’d hit some error, get stuck on the command line, and wave over an instructor to help.

Could I even learn enough about the terminal to market a terminal?

One of the most crucial responsibilities for any product marketer is to be an expert in your product. You need to know the features inside and out, and you need to be able to demo it as gracefully as the founder would.

Until Warp, I never worked on a product I couldn’t learn to demo on day one.

When I joined Warp, I had used the app for some personal coding projects. I played with AI Command Suggestions and immediately understood the magic.

Warp AI Command Suggestions Typing ’#’ in Warp opens AI command suggestions.

But when it comes to demoing the advanced use cases for Warp, I’m at a disadvantage. I am not a full-stack software engineer. I don’t readily have the types of applications, projects, and tools that are required to show off the most powerful things Warp can do.

And, because Warp is a native application, I can’t use DOM manipulation to fake it. My old tricks hacking browser-based SaaS are useless to me in this new world.

Having to ask for help to do small things like grab a screenshot for a blog post or storyboard a demo video has been humbling.

I’m pretty determined to close this skills gap, and I’ll be budgeting more time to coding this year.

3) The creative team is everything

It’s an ongoing joke in the field that nobody knows what product marketing does. Probably because as product marketers, we do a pretty bad job at product marketing for the practice of product marketing.

It’s x-functional! It’s strategic! It changes based on our stage and go-to-market motion. I need time to talk to customers, to chat with analysts, to do research!

No matter how many venn diagrams you draw, or how many times you list out all the disciplines of the practice—messaging & positioning, competitive, pricing & packaging, solutions, sales enablement, yadda yadda—at the end of the day you’re going to be judged by the quality of the creative in the campaigns.

When somebody responds to a marketing campaign they love, they’re not reacting to the strategy. They’re having an emotional response to the artwork.

Without great creative, product marketing is just a stack of internal artifacts rotting in the GDrive.

If you want people to think you’re an awesome product marketer, partner with an awesome designer. Hire a copywriter. Tag in somebody to design your slideware. Work with the best video production team you can find.

A dreamy creative theme Look at how dreamy this is.

I consider myself lucky that I’ve had a chance to work alongside some incredible creative talent with Warp. I’m grateful not only for the team that shows up and brings our ideas to life every week, but for the leaders who had the good sense to source and hire every person we’ve been able to work with so far.

Creative is everything. It may be one of our greatest purposes on this Earth, to make something beautiful, or useful, or honest, or human.

Don’t try to do marketing without it.

What else?

Looking back, this past year has been the most challenging and the most rewarding of my career.

I have a lot more to say about product marketing, startups, customer experience, remote-first work, developer tools, and life in general.

In addition to coding more this year, I am aiming to write more.

People who know me well may roll their eyes because I set this goal for myself every year. I usually publish in fits and spurts until I decide I want to re-factor my website.

If I can figure out how to break this pattern, I’ll have more to share with you soon. In the meantime, if you want to chat, I’m easy to find on the internet.