Darren Guarnaccia on reversing revenue declines, building outcome-driven Product orgs, and becoming an Executive
Product State Q&A
Darren Guarnaccia is the President at Uniform. He was formerly CPO at Hootsuite, CPO at Crownpeak, CMO at Lytics, EVP at Sitecore, and VP of Product Marketing at OpenText.
Website / LinkedIn
EC: 2022 was a challenging year for many companies. What’s important in reversing revenue declines and customer churn?
DG: Always spend the time to understand why.
Do you have the right ideal customer profile?
Are you delivering the right kind of value for those customers?
Is your pricing correctly aligned with your value?
Are your customers getting to the value you deliver fast enough?
Has your market changed enough where you no longer have product-market fit?
Do you have the right go-to-market strategies?
Is your cost to serve too high relative to the customer's willingness to pay?
If not, why not?
Once you’ve diagnosed these things, then start to tackle them by testing through solutions. You might have to explore many possible approaches, so be fast and agile — testing things quickly and lightly until you have signal that tells you it’s improving your metrics.
Then, and only then should you operationalize and make those things production grade.
EC: How do you ensure a Product org is continuously driving towards outcomes?
DG: You need to think about this from high-to-low. It all starts with the mission and vision of the business.
From there, you need to anchor on your customer’s needs and problems, and how those can be expressed in terms of outcomes and north star metrics.
A framework like OKRs can be useful for operationalizing the review and tracking of how you are progressing with these outcomes.
A great example is Loom, the video solution. Their mission is to save people time by reducing meetings. They actively tell you in their app how many hours of meetings you’ve saved by using their product, video by video you produce.
Culturally, rallying around a set of north star metrics and obsessing about them — in OKR meetings, planning meetings, and QBRs, etc. — is the way to indoctrinate everyone into the mission of the outcome you seek to deliver to the customer.
Everything needs to flow down from that mission of the business.
EC: You’ve held CTO, CMO and CPO roles before becoming President at Uniform. What advice helped you most in getting to these exec positions?
DG: The best advice, beyond being a good leader, is to always be curious, and always be learning. I read/listen to a ton of books, across a lot of domains, from marketing to strategy, psychology to product management, from business leadership to science and engineering.
I’m always pushing myself to learn more and stretch my thinking. That put me in a situation to take on more responsibility, and pivot my career in a few adjacent ways.
When I got a call asking if I’d be interested in running a product team for the first time, I was confident enough to take on the role because I’d worked alongside it long enough as a product marketer and strategist, and I’d read dozens of books on the subject.
Likewise, running Marketing was the same situation.
What matters most is thinking about how you can add value to your organization, regardless of your role — and constantly stretching yourself to deliver more.
Go above and beyond what is expected. That’s what I think has helped me the most.
“What matters most is thinking about how you can add value to your organization, regardless of your role — and constantly stretching yourself to deliver more.”
- Darren Guarnaccia
Thanks for reading Product State! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support.